HARLINGEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — “The first thing I do when I visit a child, I’m a stranger to them, and I tell them is ‘I’m not the nurse or the doctor; I’ve got a sticker for you’. And they can brighten up, and they’re waiting for that sticker,” shared Joe Garza Jaime.
Joe Garza Jaime started his journey as a chaplain half a century ago, in 1972. He started as a pastor in Houston when he got the call from one of the professors that would bring him back down to the Rio Grande Valley. Jaime was born in the original Valley Baptist Hospital, and it’s where he went to school after the building became the Valley Baptist Academy.
“I don’t know what the chaplains do or anything, but he insisted. He said before you say no. Why don’t you come down and see us? He said we’ll give you a ticket so you can fly. That’s what hooked me, a plane ticket because I’ve never flown before,” said Jaime.
After over 300 hours of training and encountering many people who encouraged and guided him, he was ordained as a Baptist minister in Westboro, Texas, right outside Corpus Christi. After three years between Westboro and Houston, he got reaffirmed by the congregation and came back down to the hospital, where he made an impact on so many lives
“Whenever there was a crisis, they would call us in the emergency, which was on the floor. And people started over the years to get used to the fact that chaplains were people that were trained to respond to needs and provide a presence that would be peaceful and comforting for families that were really distraught when death came,” added Jaime.
Although he started his chaplain Journey helping people deal with grief, he ended by helping people bring new life into this world, or as he stated, “when from when the heart stops, to when it starts.”