Adventist Bolingbrook Hospital Chaplain Cristina Grys heard the call to ministry when she was 17 years old, as a high school student in Portugal.
At that time, she wasn’t sure what she wanted to do. All her career testing was pointing her to civil engineering, but her passion for the field was lacking.
“So I started praying and asking God to guide me,” she said.
During her senior year of high school, Grys found her way. She had viewed an environmental documentary and was touched by the difficulties the planet faced.
“Right then and there, I prayed to God that I wanted to do something for my life that will matter for eternity,” she said. “I wanted to help tell about Jesus.”
Shortly thereafter, she learned of about an Adventist college in Spain where she could study theology. Her excitement for the possibilities grew.
“I told my parents, ‘I know what I’m going to do. I’m going to study theology in Spain,’” she said.
Today, Grys is spreading God’s word at both Adventist Bolingbrook and Adventist GlenOaks Hospitals. After just a few short months, she feels that she is doing just what God called her to do.
“I’ve met people who are struggling with addictions, at the end of their rope, with tears in their eyes,” Grys said. “Some of my best visits have been with people where I needed to give some advice, and pray with them, and listen to their stories, listen to how they got there. It’s a very meaningful ministry.”
Grys traveled a long road before finding herself in Bolingbrook. Upon receiving her pastoral assistance degree in Spain, she attended Walla Walla University in Washington, to finish her theology degree and to study music.
Grys’s background and talents make her a perfect fit for the hospitals, said John Rapp, vice president of ministries and mission.
“Her theological background is impressive, but Grys has so many talents that go beyond that,” Rapp said. “She’s speaks four languages, speaking English, Portuguese, Spanish and French. Her musical background adds such an important part to her ministry. She is the perfect addition to our team.”
Grys uses her musical talents in her ministry, working with behavioral health patients at Adventist GlenOaks Hospital.
“I bring my guitar and song lyrics,” Grys said. “And the whole time I’m there, I help these patients … We talk about the music, and what it means to them, and then we sing.”
After finishing at Walla Walla, Grys went on to Andrews University in Michigan to study for her master’s degree. While there, she met her husband John who was also studying for pastoral ministry. Since then they have pastored in several churches around the country. Recently they have moved to Chicago where John is also working as a pastor at two Seventh-day Adventist churches in the Chicago suburbs: Burr Ridge Seventh-day Adventist and Naperville Seventh-day Adventist.
Grys has two sons, one attending Walla Walla and studying abroad in Spain, the other attending Adventist Hinsdale Academy.
Grys believes God has called her to work with Adventist Midwest Health. She believes He wants her to reach the people she meets through her ministry.
“When God calls, I go,” she said. “I feel like He opened the right doors at the right time for me to do this job. I’m very thankful.”