O YOU KNOW PEOPLE in whom you sense the sweet Spirit of God in the first minutes of conversation? Gerry and Barb Dupuis fit that description. They are vocational clinical chaplains whose testimony conveys the tranquility they find in serving the Lord.
Gerry and Barb come from non-Christian backgrounds and describe their early lives as anything but tranquil. Gerry grew up in the Moose Cree First Nation in Ontario, Canada. There he observed the damaging effects of addiction and abuse. “Yet, Jesus sets us free from those generational cycles,” he said. “We live in a fallen world; we must have grace for those things that people fall into.”
As a young teen, Barb’s family moved to Alberta, Canada. The move triggered a rebellious spirit, and she ran away from home at 16. Barb says she was a headstrong feminist who felt the need to have complete control of her life.
While in their 20s, both Gerry and Barb had dramatic encounters with God. In 1988, Gerry was saved while attending a Billy Graham crusade and was nurtured in a Church of God congregation in Niagara Falls, Canada.
God used a tragic event to reveal Barb’s need of Him. During this time, a stranger gave her a Bible. As she read it, she began to change. Friends persuaded her to attend church with them, which increased her desire to grow in her newfound faith. Through the loving care of a pastor and his wife, she did grow. Barb received a word from the Lord through her pastor’s wife, and she knew her next step of faith was to attend a Christian college.
Gerry and Barb attended International Bible College (IBC) in Saskatchewan, where they met and married in 1992. The training, professional development, and relationships at IBC were foundational to their current ministry.
Gerry completed his master of divinity at the Pentecostal Theological Seminary in Cleveland, Tennessee, then served as associate and youth pastor of a Church of God in Niagara Falls. As Barb focused on church ministry and rearing their children, she grew in her spiritual walk. In 1999, Gerry was appointed as dean of students at IBC while Barb completed her bachelor of ministry.
In 2005, Gerry and Barb accepted the call to pastor a small church in Ulysses, Kansas, where they still serve. Gerry also serves as a chaplain with Saint Catherine Hospice. In this role, he covers 17 counties ministering to people in crisis. He takes advantage of those hours on the road by praying, meditating, and reflecting.
On one visit to a hospice patient’s home, the patient was fearful and anxious, saying she heard evil voices threatening to come and get her. The chaplain sensed tormenting demons were present, so he called them out, rebuked them to stop, and commanded them to leave. The husband and nurse who were present were surprised to witness peace come over the patient, and Gerry shared with them God’s forgiveness and love. The patient died less than a month later as a Christian believer. In Chaplain Gerry’s words, “Spiritual discussions turn into eternal decisions in a person’s crisis.”
In 2011, Barb volunteered as a chaplain for Saint Catherine’s Hospice, which led to a staff position there. Gerry and Barb view chaplaincy as an extension of their church ministry. When asked about the difference between a pastor and a chaplain, Gerry said, “A chaplain is like a pastor with no church building . . . but with people. Instead, we serve in another institution, like a hospital, a prison, or school.”
Gerry and Barb have continued their education and training to increase their ministry development and opportunities. He recently became a Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) supervisor. He is a graduate of Wolfelt’s Center of Loss with a certification in death and grief studies. He states his roles of pastor and chaplain can be overwhelming, but the Spirit of God compels him to continue both ministries.
Barb has completed CPE training and is now completing her master of divinity through the Pentecostal Theological Seminary. The Dupuises participate and lead many unchurched individuals in numerous grief programs, including Shadow of the Ghost of Grief (dealing with unresolved grief) and the Comfort Zone Grief Camp (a family event focusing on grief and emotional and spiritual revival).
Gerry said, “There is a dire need for chaplains who believe in the fundamentals of the Christian faith to be ministering in our world during this crucial time. It is a time for all to proclaim that Jesus is all we need! The tendency in our nation is to pull back when faced with the tensions and sinful situations of today. Just the opposite should be done. Pressing in, staying the course, and loving people should be our focus.”
by Tammy and Terry Simmons