Many of you know that I am now serve as an US Army Chaplain endorsed by the the North American Mission Board (NAMB) of the Southern Baptist Convention. For some, this came as somewhat a surprise. It came as a surprise to me, too.
When I was in high school, I had often thought about being a military chaplain. I saw the romance of being on the front lines, standing in the gap, and serving both God and country. When I joined the US Air Force right after high school I looked into chaplaincy and quickly discovered I was no where close to the requirements.
When my enlistment was coming to an end, my Officer-in-Charge (OIC) LTC MacDonald pulled me in his office and told me he was not going to sign my reenlistment papers. He went on to tell me that I could have a long career in the USAF but never find contentment or finish college. At the time, I hated him for it, but now that I have my graduate work done, I see the wisdom from LTC MacDonald.
I’ve been out of the military for years. So, why go back now? God’s called me and put a burden in my heart for those who have served, are serving, and will serve our country in a unique way.
The thought about becoming a chaplain starting running through my heart again around 2010 when I was a pastor intern at a Baptist church working deep in the inner city. My primary role was counseling, and I saw too many Veterans that were homeless and addicted because they couldn’t cope with coming back to civilian life.
There’s another aspect. Being a military chaplain allows me to share Jesus in a unique context with a lot more people than I would have ability to otherwise. It also provides an opportunity to see the gospel go in places throughout the world that are usually closed to the gospel.
This decision was made with great prayer and fasting. In high school, the thought was about God and country. Now, after maturing in Christ, the burden is for God and people.