Q&A with Chaplain Eddie Mekasha

The Rev. Eddie Mekasha is the only LCMS chaplain currently serving at Tyson Foods.

The Rev. Eddie Mekasha has the distinction of being the only LCMS chaplain currently serving at Tyson Foods, one of the largest producers of chicken, beef, pork and prepared foods in the world. Mekasha, who is originally from Ethiopia, came to the United States in 2002 to escape persecution. He joined Concordia Lutheran Church, Louisville, Ky., where he organized an outreach program for African immigrants. Later, he earned his Master of Divinity degree from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, and served with Christian Friends of New Americans, an LCMS Recognized Service Organization in St. Louis. Since 2013, Mekasha has been a chaplain at two Tyson plants near Council Bluffs, Iowa, where he has the opportunity to serve people from all over the world.

Why Tyson?

: I decided to become a chaplain at Tyson, a non-church organization, because I have a desire to serve people in the community outside of the church wall. … I work at two plants. One has around 1,200 [employees], and the other has almost 200.

What’s a typical day like?

: One of the great things [about] serving as a chaplain at Tyson is every day to see different people. Many of them are immigrants from Africa, Asia and Latin America. I provide pastoral care, financial counseling and case work. I do this service of financial counseling and case work regardless of their religious affiliation. Also, I help in caring for families of team members, including children, and [offering] immigration and educational advice.

How many people do you meet with each day?

: An average of five to 10 people one-to-one. … If they have issues, they come to me. Or their supervisor or line leader may tell me situations that happened in their life. I tell them to come out of line during their break time. During an emergency time, I go with them to the hospital or rehab center. Anywhere they have issues, I go.

What’s rewarding about this work?

: To make a difference in their lives — spiritually, financially, socially. … I’m the first person to be called for an emergency, and I help people to have a good transition. Some people come from a civil-war-affected area, like myself. That’s a unique thing: to share my same experience and background with those people serving Tyson and coming to this great nation, America.

What are the challenges?

: Each day, they have life struggles like any American. I’m there with them, stay with them, listening to them. God gives me two ears, and I’m giving advice once. Every day is a challenge, and every day is a blessing.

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