Tom Beddow is the coordinator for Oil Patch Chaplains, a ministry of the BGCO founded in January. A native Oklahoman, Beddow founded TR Beddow Welding Service in Ada. He also worked for Parker Drilling Company and Chevron. He obtained a Master of Science degree in marriage and family therapy from Oklahoma Baptist University in 1999. Certified in interpersonal communication, mediation and chaplaincy, Tom served as director of counseling and family Ministry at McAlester, First before coming to the BGCO.
1. Why train chaplains for Oklahoma’s oil and gas industry?
With more than 60,000 industry employees, you find diverse jobs including roughneck, tool pusher, secretary, salesperson and corporate executive. Some jobs bring multiple physical and emotional needs, including great stress. People handle stress differently. Some turn to the Lord, some to friends, others to alcohol and far too many turn to drugs. In fact, most industry execs will tell you that the use of Methamphetamine is epidemic in the oil patch. Because of the unique work setting, not just anyone can talk with the “oilies.” Their respect must be earned.
2. Are you having an impact out in the field?
Yes, sometimes due to terrible circumstances. America’s oil and gas fields are incredibly dangerous places to work. Serious injuries and deaths occur often. We assist with the proper notification of family members and then provide comfort and support during the crisis. When a death occurs, we also help the remaining workers deal with the myriad of emotions they experience after seeing a colleague die. Not surprisingly, the suicide rate among oil and gas rig employees is high.
We also provide education and prevention resources for alcohol and substance abuse, anger management, suicide prevention, stress management and family life education. We emphasize using faith as a personal and family resource in all circumstances.
3. What are your greatest needs?
Always prayer! We also need churches to help us provide the workers with lunch by holding “rig feeds.” It’s a great way to befriend the workers. We are always looking for more churches willing to learn how to specifically minister to the families.
Volunteers trained as chaplains are needed. Retired oil and gas workers can be easily trained since they already know the industry. Sixty-six of Oklahoma’s 77 counties have significant oil and gas production. The opportunity for ministry across Oklahoma is tremendous.
And like most BGCO ministries, we started on a shoestring budget. While we knew the need was there, we did not realize the response to what we started would be so immediate. Requests for our help will quickly outstrip our budget capabilities.
Oil Patch Chaplains is only one of the Cooperative Program ministries of the BGCO. Learn more at bgco.org. To provide personal financial support, contact the BGCO Office of Stewardship Advancement at 800/690-6933.