This "Chaplain Spotlight" series is our attempt to give you an inside look into some of the men who conduct our chapels throughout the world of hockey. We begin our series with Eric Lubbert who serves as Chaplain for the Springfield Falcons in the AHL.
Who are you Chaplain for and how long have been an HMI Chaplain?
I have been a chaplain in the AHL for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers in Bridgeport Ct. for the past eight years. I also spend time with players from the New York Islanders. Many who I have been able to build a relationship with as they have come up through the system playing in Bridgeport for the Sound Tigers.
What does a chapel look like for you? What is a typical "chapel" day like?
A typical chapel day starts days earlier setting up a good time to meet, with a player on the team who is my contact person. He checks with the coach and we pick a good time to have chapel. We usually meet weekly on Tuesday after practice. The night before chapel I text the players to give them a heads up. I usually prepare my talk the night before. I head over to the arena and try to be early so I can meet new guys and make sure that everyone knows that I am there and the room is ready. Sometimes I will bring food. We meet around a table for 15-30 minutes depending on how long the guys want to talk. I usually do a 7-10 min talk then I pray for the team. Then before I leave I usually stop and talk with the coach if he has time.
What is your favorite part of doing chapel?
My favorite part about doing chapel is: getting to know great young men from around the world on a personal level. My wife and I enjoy having them in our home for a meal, etc... Many of them are at crossroads in their lives. Gaining their trust and talking with them about many important things, most importantly their relationship with God Through Jesus. It is incredible to me that I have the privilege to sit in a room with young men from around the world who are there because they want to hear from me about God and how to know Him.
Why is it important to have a chapel at the AHL level or for your team?Having Chapel at the AHL level is very important because the guys are young and far from home, and in many cases under the microscope having to preform and show no weakness. This can put quite a bit of pressure on them. The Chaplain in many cases, (once trust is established) is the only person that the player can open up to, and ask for prayer, get advice, and gain support. And of course it is an opportunity to share the gospel.
Do you have an inspiring story about God working in Chapel?
I have many inspiring stories about God working in and through chapel. But one that I will never forget was a time a number of years ago. We had invited a couple of players over for dinner. One of the players was the team captain. He holds many of the records on the team that still stand today. After dinner while we were still sitting at the dinner table the conversation turned to spiritual things and I was able to share the gospel. After I finished talking, I invited them to receive Christ. I prayed, then when I finished praying moved on to the family room to hang out, but the player did not move. I looked at him and I could see on his face that he had changed. I asked him if he had prayed with me to receive Christ. He said that he had, and shared that the things that I said and the verses that I read were the same ones that he had just heard at his grandfathers funeral just days earlier. That was a life changing moment for that player.
What is your biggest challenge in being a chapel leader?
The biggest challenges are:
- Many seasons getting to know basically a new team each year. Many times you will lose your key chapel guys and will have to rebuild each year. There may be a new coaching staff also.
- Waiting around
- Last minute changes after practice. The players may have to go to another commitment that I was not made aware of, but that is not such a big deal.
What verse has helped you in your chapels or you would find useful for hockey players?
Helpful verse. Philippians 3: 14
I press on toward the GOAL to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. NIV
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