Pastors' Wives Find Fulfillment in Chaplaincy

By Julie Markese, Director of Thrive Church Network for IDCAG on April 4th, 2017

There’s life after the pastorate. 

Val McGough and Sherry Massey were both pastors’ wives who experienced many years of fruitful ministry in long-term pastorates alongside their husbands. One of these women had change thrust upon her; the other decided it was time for change. Both have found fulfillment in a new ministry: Marketplace Chaplaincy.

Val McGough (pictured at left) has been in full-time ministry her entire adult life. After 34 years, she and her husband Rick stepped down from pastoral ministry to embark on a new season of life. Sensing God was opening new doors for her, Val took steps to become a licensed minister. She recently was hired by Marketplace Chaplains to serve at the Bickford Cottages, an Assisted Living establishment in Moline. Val is uniquely qualified for this position, having worked for years as a caregiver for local agencies. She enjoys music and loves every part of ministry.

Widowed unexpectedly in 2014, Sherry Massey (pictured at right) knows a lot about change and transition, both in her personal life and public ministry. While she continues to faithfully serve in her home church, Glad Tidings Assembly in DeKalb, God has broadened her influence and opportunities to minister. She is now an industrial chaplain with Marketplace Chaplains, presently working at a local food manufacturing and packaging plant. She will be ordained in May.

Founded in Dallas, Texas, in 1984, Marketplace Chaplains USA has expanded every year for the past 30+ years, and now serves nearly the entire country. Client companies with multiple locations are able to have chaplains available to employees at each of their sites. Marketplace Chaplains USA is the longest continuing provider of workplace chaplains to corporate America today, as well as the largest. Over 1,500 chaplains serve from California to Massachusetts, providing personal care for over 470,000 employees and family members. Information is available on the website of Marketplace Chaplains. 

Interview with Molly Matthew

At first meeting, she appears quiet, shy, and reluctant to be the subject of conversation. Yet beneath the unassuming exterior lies a bold, mighty, and very humble woman of God whose passion for the lost marked the beginning of a vibrant Indian church in the Chicago suburbs.

Thrive Church Network recently sat down with Molly Mathew for an interview. Here is her story:

TCN: You and your husband Sunny pastor Zion Christian Church in Arlington Heights. How did you come to Chicago, and how did you become pastors of this church?

My brother Sam and I immigrated to Chicago with my mother in 1982 for a better life. I married my husband in an arranged marriage and brought him to the states. My parents were ministers, so I didn’t want to be in ministry. Neither did Sunny. But we share a love for people and seeing them come to the Lord.

I was an ICU nurse. After a particularly hard night, while I slept I had a vision of my coworkers being in hell and crying out to me for help. Though I tried, it was too late. 

The next day, God gave me prophetic words for each of my coworkers, and every one responded. My supervisor arranged my schedule so that I could start a weekend preaching ministry.

God began changing lives. New people came to Christ. This marked the beginning of Zion Christian Church. Sunny joined me in ministry, and the gathering in our basement grew. Our first baptism was in a swimming pool. 

A pastor from Oklahoma had a vision instructing him to Chicago and lay hands on a couple for ministry; the couple was us. In 2006, Sunny left his job with the post office to pastor full time.

People were being healed, delivered, and filled with the gifts of the Spirit. I went from full-time to part-time work to allow more time in ministry. 

We paid a week’s rent on a hotel meeting space. The next week, an anonymous donor paid the entire year. We quickly outgrew that space. 

God directed Sunny to go to the park district building on Euclid Avenue. We rented that space, but knew we were to buy our own building for our growing congregation. Eventually, at the same time but in different locations, Sunny and I were given an identical vision of our current building. 

TCN: You are a minister in your own right with your own international preaching ministry. Can you tell us about it?

I never advertise and don’t take calls, because I always need to hear from God. Recently, I was iin Korea for eleven days of meetings in Presbyterian churches. Many were saved, healed, and filled with the Holy Spirit. Hundreds were slain in the spirit. 

TCN: Can you give us a glimpse of what it’s like to be you in ministry?

Every single one of my family has come to Christ. It took 15 years. I have never written a sermon. I don’t have a secret; I just completely rely on the Holy Spirit to give me a Word when I need it. 

God has given me favor and acceptance with all age groups, from babies to teens to senior adults. I am able to minister freely to any group.

God gave me Joshua 1 as a promise. In Indian culture, it’s hard for a woman to be in spiritual authority, but God has been with me all the way.

I've never had a ministry plan. I trust God for all of my future. I am open to anyone who needs help 24/7. This is how I live my life.

Additional information on the church and Sunny and Molly's ministry can be found on the church's website.

My First Day as a Jail Chaplain by Mary Ann D'Onoforio

Preface from Julie Markese, Director of Thrive Church Network and Church Coaching: A few weeks ago, I had a chance to catch up with Mary Ann D’Onofrio, who is an ordained chaplain, on what God has been doing in her ministry. She is seeing tremendous results! During our conversation, she recounted the story of her first day as a County Jail chaplain, and I’m sharing it with you.

It’s challenging to be a woman in vocational ministry. Mary Ann has a congregation of 900 and she preaches four times a week. This may be the first time many of you are hearing about the revival in the DuPage County jail. I hope we can better encourage and support the women in our District who are making such a difference. JM

When I accepted a position as a prison chaplain for DuPage County in April 2011, I was excited but largely clueless about the great prejudice against women in ministry. On my first day, I was frisked, given a badge, had my picture taken, given a short tour of a very large facility, handed a set of keys, and then told “get to work.” I soon discovered not everyone was excited about me being there. 

I was assigned to a basement office with three male volunteer chaplains who appeared to run the place. One was old and kind, another wary, and the third one harsh. When I entered the office, he leaned in close to my face and said “Hey, girly girl, you might as well pack up your bags now and take yourself home. This is not a place for a woman. You should not be here. You are unqualified because you are a woman. You should not minister to men. No man will ever want to talk to you. Get out!” I could not believe the hatred and prejudice in the voice of another minister. 

But as I listened more closely, I heard another voice – the voice of fear. I began to pray. “Lord, am I such a threat to his masculinity and his perceived religiosity that he really believes You cannot use me?” The Lord responded, “Jesus ministered to all, and you should, too.” Simple … easy. And so I said to this man, “God has placed a clear calling on my life, to be here in this jail. Jesus loved everyone, listened to their stories, and met them right where they were, no matter if they were male, female, Jew, Greek, free, or slave. Until God tells me differently, I’m here at His will to love His people. I’m not leaving until He tells me to!”

Five years later, I’m still here. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the only time I have encountered that chaplain’s attitude. It makes me sad, and I don’t understand it. God has used me in this jail. I preach four services a week, do pastoral counseling, approve religious diets, and oversee 30 volunteers. My husband and I teach a parenting class together. I’m a mom to many inmates who have never known a mother’s love. I’m a friend and a pastor to many who are coming to church for the first time in their lives.