DALLAS - Texas Baptists endorsed Hollas and Nelda Hoffman as the first Oil Patch Chaplains on Monday, February 24, during a meeting of the Executive Board. The Hoffmans, of Gonzales, will serve on the oil fields of South Texas as chaplains.
"Endorsement lends integrity, character, responsibility and accountability to a pastoral ministry in a specialized setting," said Bobby Smith, director of Chaplaincy Relations. "Chaplaincy is a respected program of Texas Baptists. Endorsement provides a sense of worth and accountability and provides connection with a faith group."
Hollas, an ordained minister and pastor for more than 30 years, retired from the ministry in August 2013. At that time, he and his wife, Nelda, felt a calling to serve as chaplains in the oil patches of South Texas and began a new ministry in their hometown. What began as a ministry from 10-15 miles from their home has now taken the Hoffmans from East to West Texas and everywhere in between.
While they did not know much about the oil fields around them when they started, "We knew about people and we knew about the need," Hollas shared.
When asked to describe a typical day in their lives, Hollas says they never know what a day may hold. Some days they are delivering sandwiches to workers who might otherwise not get a meal. Other days find them kneeling beside a hospital bed ministering to a burn victim.
"Our desire is to show care, concern, compassion and hope to those we meet each day," Nelda said. "People on the oil fields need to know there is someone who cares about them. It is a blessing to be the ones who get to show that care!"
Working as volunteer chaplains and Hope 1:8 missionaries, the Hoffmans are able to do their work with gifts and offerings they have received from area churches and Texas Baptists. In 2015, oil patch chaplains will receive funds from the Mary Hill Davis Offering to provide bibles, tracts and need-based projects.
"There is a great need for Jesus in the oil field," Hollas said. "This ministry is growing faster than we can keep up with but we are so excited about those God is raising up to do the work to further His kingdom."
As their ministry has expanded, so has the number of volunteer chaplains in the area. The Hoffmans now work with three more couples - Kenny and Tawalia Humphreys, Cory and Sarah Davis, and Gary and Kim Haynes. They are continually looking for more volunteers who would like to minister in the oil patch of Texas.
The Eagle Ford Shale Play, in which Gonzales is located, is one of many areas across the state of Texas experiencing significant growth. Fred Ater, Texas Baptist church strategist, has worked with the oil field ministry for more than three years. During this time, he has seen the need for chaplains arise and has partnered with the Hoffmans, as well as many others interested in ministering to this growing mission field.
An important aspect of the oil patch chaplain ministry is to build relationships with area oil field companies. Many times the Hoffmans drive up to a new site and ask to speak with the safety manager on duty. They share with the manager about who they are and their desire to help the workers at that company.
One day, Hollas and Nelda drove up to an oil company and the gate was open, so they drove through to the main office. When they knocked on the door, the office manager asked how they were able to drive in when the gate was always closed.
"The gate was open for us," Hollas told the manager. "Since we are already here, would you mind if I spoke with your safety manager?"
He was soon introduced to the safety manager and within a few minutes, Hollas found himself in front of a room full of oil field workers with the opportunity to introduce himself and share with the workers that he was there to get to know them and help in any way that he could.
"The Lord opened the door for us that day to allow us the opportunity to meet and minister to more oil field workers," Nelda shared. "This is just one example of how God goes before us each day and allows us to meet new people and build new relationships for His kingdom.
For more information about Texas Baptist Oil Field Ministry, visit the Oil Patch Chapel page.