After her endorsement last year as an Assemblies of God U.S. Missions chaplain, Rebecca Vargas found a unique niche. She is the Fellowship’s first hotel chaplain.
Vargas served as an ordained minister and evangelist for 15 years. She began accompanying her father, Robert Vargas, on various ministry assignments at the age of 11. Robert Vargas, who died in 2009, spent 40 years as an AG pastor.
In 2016, Rebecca Vargas connected with Marketplace Ministries, which sought to link bilingual female chaplains with several companies in the greater Los Angeles area. After four months of training with Marketplace Chaplains, Vargas became the first female chaplain at Hotel Current in Long Beach, California.
Sari Densmore, Hotel Current accounting manager, says Christian owner Michael C. Wang began hiring chaplains in 2015 in an effort to uplift the spirits of staff.
“Employees may need to talk to someone other than their manager or direct supervisor,” Densmore says. “People have troubles at home or at work, and need some type of outlet to express their feelings.”
Densmore says Vargas is humble, a great listener, easy to get along with, and has an outgoing personality.
The hotel introduced Vargas, who is 49 and single, at a special meeting so employees would understand her part-time role. She is able to circulate among workers on lunch break, and some open up to her about their personal needs, such as how to survive in a shaky marriage. Vargas encourages workers who want to talk further to meet later at their home or in a restaurant.
“Our chaplains need to love the Lord and to love people, and Becky clearly does both,” says Clint Beymer, the Marketplace Chaplains company care leader who trained her. “She is approachable, and people open up to her.”
Beymer says Vargas has the extra benefit of relating to people in two languages, which is important because many in the housekeeping and landscaping segments of the hotel only speak Spanish. Hotel chaplains are trained to not interrupt work, but to be visible so that employees know they are available to discuss sensitive issues.
“We go in with the hope of sharing the love of Christ through care, in order to have the opportunity to share Christ,” Beymer says. “It’s the ministry of presence.”
Typically, corporate owners hire chaplains because it’s impractical for them to try to tend to the spiritual needs of staff themselves. While the majority of company leaders who employ chaplains are Christian, some aren’t. Yet they see chaplains as a benefit, Beymer says, much like providing workers with health insurance.
“It’s a ripe mission field,” Beymer says. “Not everybody goes to church, but most people have to go to work.”
As an AG evangelist, Vargas has ministered throughout Central America. For the past nine years, Vargas also has been a part-time caregiver for the elderly. She attends Desert Rain Church, an Assemblies of God congregation in Downey, California.
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