Pastor Ed Buller has faced ups and downs in the past two months as chaplain, yet he wouldn't trade it for the world.
Before stepping into this role as chaplain at Union Gospel Mission (UGM), Buller had been pastoring for roughly three decades. For the past 10 years, Buller pastored a church in Winnipeg called Heart of Worship International Church.
"I loved every minute of it, but then COVID hit. It hit our church hard because the Filipinos, a lot of them in our community are first-generation immigrants and families, which meant they were some of the first people to lose their jobs. Our tithing went down 70 per cent and we were a one-employee church. I agreed to be laid off and eventually my job wasn't feasible."
Buller took a job in 2021 with the government but was not enjoying his role.
A New Position as Chaplain
"I applied for the job of being the evening chaplain at UGM and within a few weeks, I met the gentleman that is now my boss," says Buller. "We actually went to school together at Providence. After praying it through with my wife, we had confirmation from the Holy Spirit that if the job was for us, they would offer it and we would accept it. I've been there since December 16."
Buller shares that this job has already been so unlike what he's used to.
"Immediately I was thrust into a different environment than I had been in the previous 25 years. We see hundreds of people every week. Some of whom have no desire to be ministered to or even cared for. Most of the people are hurting and they need care and love."
The initial position was quite hard for the pastor.
"I had been caring for people like this from a safe distance before but now I was on a frontline instead of safely back in the office. On my first day, I had a negative experience with someone who was high on drugs. That first week, a guy in the sober living program asked if my boss was trying to get me to quit, as two more incidents happened."
Although Buller hasn't been with UGM long, he has also seen many 'God-moments' already.
"My job is different every single day and I love that aspect of it. God is everywhere. When I'm prompted by the Holy Spirit to ask the question, if anyone wants to know the Lord, it never fails. Someone accepts Christ. That is what the ministry at Union Gospel Mission has allowed me to do. Yes, we need clothing, to feed people, and volunteers, but everything we do is designed so we can preach the gospel and see someone accept Christ."
Buller works from noon until 8:00 p.m weekdays and feels like this job is his home.
"I don't do the converting as a chaplain. I'm just a tool to show you the Convertor in Chief, to show you Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. To show you the God who loves you so much He sent His Son to die. As long as I use the gifts God has given me, then you will see more of these people you never knew on earth, in the kingdom."
Pastoring Around the World
Buller started out as a pastor in Winnipeg, but he's also pastored in other places before returning to his home city.
"I began as a youth pastor on Portage Avenue and met my wife there. We've had this journey all around the world to Hawaii and back. Our church service started at 8:30 in the morning because everybody wanted to be out surfing by 11:30, yours truly included."
On one particular day on the island of Kuai right after surfing, Buller was reading his Bible on the sand when he heard God speak to him through a passage.
"I was reading about Moses and the burning bush passage in my beach Bible. As soon as I read "I want you to go back to Egypt," the Holy Spirit speaks to me and says 'I want you to go back to Winnipeg as I have something there for you.'"
Buller shares that he wrestled with the idea for about a month before he agreed to come back.
"It took me five years in paradise to realize what a beautiful place Winnipeg is. To raise a family but more importantly, to minister. Everything I learned in Hawaii has made me a better servant of God here in Winnipeg."