Chaplain Spotlight: Andrew PepperSeptember 23, 2015
How did you get involved with HMI hockey chapel?
After serving in various leadership roles at Deep Water Church in Halifax, Nova Scotia I was approached by a kid named Ryan Francis who I lead in youth group. He was interning as a student with HMI. He and Bruce Smith approached me about the role of hockey chaplain with the Halifax Mooseheads
What is your role?
I volunteer as the Hockey Chaplain for the Halifax Mooseheads. I have been doing it for 1 season now.
What does a typical "Chapel Day" look like?
Chapel usually happens twice a month during the season. I usually show up at the arena an hour before and talk to team management, coaches, trainers. Chapel happens around supper time so the players grab a bite to eat so I’m not preaching to them on an empty stomach. I preach on a particular part of the Bible and apply it to the sports/life experiences of the players
What is your favorite part of doing chapel?
My favorite part of being a chaplain is connecting with the players, coaches and fans. I’m deeply encouraged to see how God is using Hockey Ministries to reach people for Christ. People who may not step foot in a Church or talk to a Pastor are willing to hear messages about Jesus from a hockey chaplain and through hockey ministry
Why is it important to have a chapel for young Junior A hockey players?
Major Junior hockey players are between 17-20 years of age. That is a difficult time for any kid. Take them away from home and thrust them into the spotlight and it’s that much more difficult. These guys need to hear that Jesus loves them and that He has a great plan for their lives
How would you describe today’s hockey player?
I believe there is still an old school attitude in hockey. It’s a world where guys are very respectful but also very guarded. Guys could be going through the worst crisis in their lives and you’d never know. Vulnerability is seen as weakness. When I think of some of the worse case scenarios that can come from this it scares me as a hockey chaplain.
What is something you will never forget from your chapel experience?
There was a week where I was preparing for my talk and I realized I had little insight on whether or not what I was saying was relevant to the guys. I decided that instead of me trying figure out what would reach them I would ask them some questions. It was fantastic to hear their stories of why they attended chapel. It was truly encouraging for me and allowed me to open up more to them.
What is the biggest challenge of being a chapel leader?
Like I said earlier I think getting the guys to open up when they have problems is the hardest thing for me. Everytime I hear a story, whether it’s through friends or on the news, about either a tragedy or moral failure that happens in the hockey world I ask myself if that is happening with my guys or the Mooseheads. The Steve Montador story came up this year and I prayed that if one of the players in the Mooshead’s locker room was ever headed down that road that they would reach out to me or someone else.
What verse helps you in chapel or helps you in life that would be good for hockey players? Why?
The first Bible passage I preached on was Matthew 6:19-20. I was a successful middle distance runner in both High School and University and I know I placed a lot of my self worth and purpose in my running abilities. I believe hockey players do the same. Athletic talent and achievement ends at some point. Athletic ability is a treasure that will fade away. One of the main points I try to express to the guys is that the only thing that can bring true meaning to their life is Jesus.