Called by faith to a second career

Question for Nancy Hall Anderson ('70)

After spending 30 years as a ministry assistant in Portland, Oregon, Nancy Anderson (BAE, elementary education, speech communication), felt called to a second career that channeled her faith in a more meaningful way. Last year, she completed her Master of Divinity degree and earned national board certification in chaplaincy. She now works at Hearthstone Assisted Living in Beaverton.

What has being a chaplain taught you about the spiritual needs of those who are nearing the end of their lives?

What surprised me about the chaplaincy was the realization that I was not responsible for making sure all my residents made it to heaven. God spoke to my heart and reminded me that that was his job to draw people to himself. What he wanted me to do was show up and let him love the people through me. That was such a huge relief. I knew I could share his love with these precious older people, but now I could leave the results to God. The realization freed me to enjoy my work: I’ve seen doors open up for conversation and clarity emerge through dementia—things that I might not have noticed had I been pushing my own agenda.

I also discovered that people in their 80’s and 90’s are more apt to be considering what will happen after death. Not all, but many want to make sure they have made peace with God. I have been privileged to see many older people get right with God and enter their eternity prepared and ready.

Looking back, I can see how the 30 years in the church was my training period. I also naturally love older people and hearing their life stories. I had been praying to be used in a more direct way by God to help people find reconciliation with him.