Redeployed, Not Retired!

Capital City Rescue MissionIt has been a challenge making contact with all of our CBAmerica chaplains during my first six months on the job.  One chaplain I almost gave up on was Rev. Donald Lyon.  Finally, I got him on the phone, verified his contact info, and when I asked about his ministry, I couldn’t take notes fast enough.  So I asked Don to send me a robust report of his ministry career.  What I learned was impressive.

Don writes, “I received my ecclesiastical endorsement from CBAmerica Chaplaincy on April 12, 2010. I entered the pastoral ministry in 1967 and stepped down from a senior pastoral position January 2009. I am currently serving the Lord at the Capital City Rescue Mission in Albany NY, working with homeless men. The last church where I served for 27 years understands I have retired from my senior pastor position, however, I tell all others that I have been redeployed.

The Lord has opened a new door of ministry sharing the Gospel with homeless men and guiding them through our “Life Program” to become disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Jesus gives them an abundant life forever. Visit us at www.capitalcityrescuemission.com to see how we are “Giving Hope…Transforming Lives” to many men today. I am grateful for the Lord’s leading in 42 years of pastoral ministry and now 6 years of a ministry to homeless men in Albany NY.”

Don quantified the extent of his ministry activity over the past six months: “22 worship services, 54 Bible Studies, 40 other small groups, 288 one-on-one visits.”  The results: 18 first-time decisions for Christ and 22  rededications among “the least of these” roaming the streets of Albany New York!!!

How can you pray for an “old Lyon” on his “second wind?”  Don continues:

  • “Pray for continued effectiveness in reaching homeless men with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
  • Pray as we are establishing a Rescue Mission for homeless women at our Albany campus.
  • Pray for growth in a local Baptist church which started in our chapel and now meets in Celebration Hall at our Albany campus.
  • Pray for more of our men to follow the Lord through the waters of baptism under the leadership of Pastor Randall who is an ordained Baptist minister.”

I was amazed reading all Don reported, so I checked his file to find out his year of birth.  Don Lyon will be 75 this August!  Do me a favor and send an email birthday greeting to Don at coupleoflyons@aol.com (you know he’s been around a while with an email like that).

Pray for Don and his wife, Ruth (the other Lyon), as they invest their autumn years “reaching those others can’t…or wont!”

PS:  If after reading this, you sense the Holy Sprit is nudging you to get involved with some new and/or audacious form of ministry, talk to your pastor or elder for advice.  If they agree you have the gifting and life circumstance to pursue some form of chaplaincy, contact me for info on how you might become endorsed by CBAmerica to reach others with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Andy

Andy Meverden

Director of Chaplaincy
CBAmerica
O: 720-283-3030
C: 303-263-6175
3686 Stagecoach Rd, Unit F
Longmont, CO 80504-5660

The Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

AndyBy Andy Merverden, Director of Chaplaincy

I wanted to update you on info I gleaned from the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) conference my wife, Myra, and I attended last week in Southern California.

The June 26 decision of the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) on same-sex marriage was expected by some, but a disappointment to many.  I was personally discouraged and at a loss for words.  After spending four days with some of America’s most brilliant Christian Attorneys of the ADF, I came away with valuable information, inspiration and hope.  Among other things, I’ve decided to throw away all my disparaging lawyer jokes!  Let me share why, and what I learned.

  1. This is Not the Worst it’s ever been with regard to Government Encroachment on Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Speech:  During the years leading up to WWI, the Wilson administration imprisoned 6,000 US citizens who spoke out against its policies.  A couple of mysterious deaths also occurred.  Attorney David French, of the ACLJ, described his own personal mistreatment by college professors and students in the 70’s and 80’s over the abortion debate at Harvard Law School, pre and post Roe v. Wade.
  2. The Supreme Court, like other Branches of Government, Sometimes Gets it Wrong: Whether it be the Dred Scott decision, Roe v. Wade, or this one, the ruling majority of Justices occasionally gets it wrong.  Thankfully, there is a constitutional process to overturn or revoke such bad decisions.  The 14th Amendment is the response to one.
  3. Visionary Christian Leaders Saw this Coming:  In 1994, Christian leaders, including Bill Bright, James Dobson, D. James Kennedy, and others, foresaw government encroachment on the First Amendment: Freedom of Religion, Speech, the Press, Assembly & Redress of Grievances.  As a result, they formed the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF).  Today 2600 allied attorneys have given over 1 million legal hours – pro bono – defending  Freedom of Religion and Speech, worldwide.   During breaks and lunches, I spoke Portuguese with visiting allied attorneys from Brazil and Portugal, and Italian with attorneys from my mother’s country of origin.  Yes, I am a polyglot.
  4. Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty (CALL) was founded with help of ADF in 2011:  CBAmerica chaplaincy, under recently retired endorser, Dr. Al Russell, was a founding member of CALL.  Today, I sit on the executive committee in Al’s place.  CALL has been actively defending religious freedom, not only for Christians, but Sikhs, Buddhists, and other non-Christian individuals and groups, primarily in US Military. CALL also has allied attorneys able to work in all sectors of society.
  5. The Recent SCOTUS Decision not only was a vast Overreach to include Same-sex Couples, but opens the Door to Polygamous, Polyandrous and other Challenges:  The saddest thing I learned is that many radical supporters of this agenda are actually working toward the destruction of marriage and the legalization of intergenerational sex.  The SCOTUS decision was based on the “right” of consenting adults to have their emotional and sexual needs met, over the needs of children to be raised by their biological parents.  This shift began with the enactment of “no-fault divorce” which originated in Russia and was first adopted by California in 1969.  It will continue, unless checked.
  6. Many So-called Christian Churches and Organizations that have Acquiesced to the Gay, Lesbian, Bi-Sexual, and Transgender (GLBT) Agenda, have declined in Membership:  If not reversed, the Episcopal Church in America is trending toward extinction by 2037.  Some large churches who have caved to the GLBT agenda have lost membership.
  7. All Christian Organizations that Have Stood Firm Have Grown:  Intervarsity Christian Fellowship (IVCF) was kicked out of 50 colleges and universities over its conservative Christian doctrinal position, but is now stronger and on more campuses than ever!  One presenter demonstrated that, historically, the Church has grown more in times of chaos than peace. He emphasized the need to follow the strategy outlined in Micah 6:8, “Seek justice, love mercy and walk humbly with your God.”
  8. Despair is Incompatible with the Christian Faith: “Christians have not the right to despair, because despair is a sin. And Christians have not reason to despair, quite simply because Christ has risen!” (Rev. John Neuhaus)
  9. Three Good Reasons to Be Hopeful:
    1. Conflict Creates Opportunity to Stand for the Truth:  If it hadn’t been for US Government overreach, we wouldn’t have the Hobby Lobby victory. (Looks like the Little Sisters of the Poor case might go to the SCOTUS as well). Egyptian Bishop Athanasius stood and fought Arian heresy, defending Trinitarian doctrine in the 4th Century.  He was known as “Athanasius Contra Mundum” (Latin for “Athanasius Against the World!”).
    2. Religious Liberty Is Winning!: Last six of SCOTUS decisions ruled in favor of Religious Liberty.  ADF represented many of these cases.
    3. Christians Should Not Be Fearful, But Believe:  In Mark 5, when Jarius learned of his daughter’s death, and was told to stop bothering Jesus for healing, He said to Jarius, “Don’t be afraid, just believe.” 

At every morning devotional, and in each session (just about every one given by a Christian attorney), I was challenged to stand firm, be hopeful, believe and continue sharing the Gospel.

As chaplains in the Federal, State and Civilian sectors, we minister in a religiously pluralistic environment.  Most of the time, we don’t get to choose whom we serve.  Rear Admiral Margaret Kibben, the US Navy Chief of Chaplains said in a recent Armed Forces Chaplains Board (AFCB) teleconference, “The art of chaplaincy is negotiating the waters of counselees, regardless of religious or sexual orientation.  We love them by ensuring they are cared for, even if we cannot affirm their behavior, and need to refer them to another appropriate counselor or caregiver to meet their need.”  In the same teleconference, Chaplain (Maj Gen) Howard Stendahl, US Air Force Chief of Chaplains, reiterated, “We treat everyone with dignity and respect.”

Still, the sands are shifting.  The cultural battle is raging.  Some opponents of traditional marriage are out to pick a fight.  The new CALL attorney, Daniel Briggs, USAFR, JAG, recommended that chaplains provide potential counselees with an information/release form on the chaplain’s Christian counseling perspective.  Here is the link to a sample form.  It will need to be adapted to your specific service and circumstances, should you choose to implement it.  I also recommend that you have organizational legal review.

Here are some helpful resources on the homosexual marriage issue:

  • Alliance Defending Freedom: Download the “Protecting Your Ministry, A Legal Guide for Churches, Christian Schools, and Christian Ministries” handbook at http://www.alliancedefendingfreedom.org/church.  The ADF Website a great source of information.
  • SAME-SEX MARRIAGE: A Thoughtful Approach to God’s Design for Marriage, by Sean McDowell & John Stonestreet, BakerBooks.
  • Restoring All Things: God’s Audacious Plan to Change the World Through Everyday People, by Warren C. Smith & John Stonestreet, BakerBooks.
  • Truth Overruled: The Future of Marriage and Religious Freedom. Pre-order on Amazon.
  • Chaplain Alliance: PURSUING a nation where all chaplains, and those whom they serve, freely exercise their God-given and constitutionally protected religious liberties without fear of reprisal.  Good place for the latest in Military Chaplaincy religious issues.

 

Thanks For The Great Years!

Al and CarolJeremiah 29: 11 tells us that God has a great plan for our lives, one that gives us hope and a future. This has been my life verse for the last 51 years.

There is a popular TV show called “Dirty Jobs.” There should be one called “Greatest Jobs.” I would be the first to send in a resume telling about my 21 years as Director of Chaplaincy for CBAmerica. We have the greatest chaplains.

It has been an absolute joy to serve our chaplains and their families and visit the many churches that support chaplaincy financially and pray for this ministry. I loved being in homes and offices with you, spending time eating together with your families and playing with your pets. It was exciting to see the hand of God at work in your lives and meet some of the people whose lives had been changed through your ministries.

There were many changes at CBAmerica over my years there but as I look back I thank the Lord for placing me in that leadership role. My life is so much richer now. Carol and I have been richly blessed by our chaplains and churches in many ways.

CBAmerica went way beyond our expectations with their retirement party for us at Seaside, Oregon back in March. Thanks to all who came and participated in that event. We have wonderful memories of our years with you, our chaplains. We were able to visit many States, Installations and overseas countries. I have been to every State and now that we are retired we can visit more Family Campgrounds and relax.

 

ElioWe had originally wanted to get an Elio car to pull behind our motor home and were told it would begin to be produced now, but they have new prototypes and it will be at least a year before production begins. We were in line with number 11,293. As we thought and prayed, we decided not to wait another year but look for something else more suitable. In the Elio, seating was tandem with Carol sitting behind me and there was very little trunk space -no room for our small dog to ride along with us. Many of you donated to this project and we are very grateful for your loving gifts. The cost of the Elio was $6,800.

As we looked for another alternative, I was able to find a SMART CAR made by Mercedes with side by side seating for two and room for the dog. The cost was basically the same.

admin-ajaxI found this little car online in Norman, OK. It is a 2013 and only has 1,063 miles on it. It comes with a 4 year, 50,000 mile warranty. Carol and I used air miles and flew one way to pick it up June 29th. We put 1,200 miles on it coming home from Oklahoma.

It drives great, fits on our trailer, in our garage and we can hold hands while driving. We are so thankful to all who had a part in making this a reality for us. We are so blessed!

 

Keep us in your prayers as we adjust to medical issues and enjoy the years God will continue to give us.

This has been a good year. I will have finished 51 years in ministry (not done yet, want to do some teaching), celebrated 50 years married to Carol, my high school sweetheart, June 26th, finished a PhD in Leadership in February, had my fourth pacemaker implanted June 24th and retired June 30. It was once said, “Come grow old with me, the best is yet to come.” With God as our guide we will march on until he takes us home.

The Psalmist says in Psalm 16:5, 6: ” The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance” and again in verse 11 “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

Keep us on your Christmas Card list and we will do the same. Love and support Andy Meverden and his wife Myra as you did us. God Bless!

Al and Carol Russell

Crusty Senior Sergeant Turns Civil Air Patrol Chaplain

Civil Air PatrolCBAmerica has an astonishingly wide breadth of chaplains.  Some from unsuspecting backgrounds.  Chaplain, Lt. Col. David Poland’s story is quite amazing.  After leaving the US Army sooner than planned, this self-admitted “crusty NCO” picked up his rucksack and continued to follow Jesus in a whole other direction.   Read how God led Sergeant First Class Poland into a fruitful ministry career.

David writes: “In 1982, I was medically retired from the Army for injuries received in a combat training accident. It took three surgeries, 14 months of medical leave, countless hours of physical therapy, and over 10 years for the Army to reach that decision. I was a senior NCO in MI. After my retirement, I used the GI Bill to complete seminary, and became a chaplain at an independent retirement community. I continued in school for doctorates in counseling and ministry.

In 2006, the husband of one of staff members committed suicide after returning from duty in Iraq. As I helped her through her grief, I began to learn how many of our active military and veterans were committing suicide. I felt that with my experiences and injuries in the military, as well as my education in counseling, that perhaps God wanted me back in the military as a chaplain. That door would not open because of my injuries and age, but it was suggested I investigate being a chaplain in Civil Air Patrol (CAP), the US Air Force Auxiliary. With proper training, CAP chaplains can go on USAF orders to supplement the USAF Chaplain Corps. In 2008 I joined CAP, was endorsed as a chaplain by CBAmerica, got qualified to go on USAF orders, and have been working with members of the Missouri Army and Air Guard. I have done about 100 funerals for veterans each year. In addition to honoring our veterans, this provides an opportunity to minister to their families. It has also given me the opportunity to counsel members of Guard after they have returned from deployment.

At times, families will tell us their deceased loved one had attended church as a child, and even though none of them are “religious” now, they still want Christian prayers for the deceased. Several of the chaplains had a discussion and decided if they had requested a chaplain, then they would receive a Christian service from our own tradition that included the Gospel. At one such service, the firing team was members of the Marine Corps League. After the funeral, each member of the team approached me, to thank me for a clear presentation of the Gospel. It was one of those moments when you hoped you have served the Lord, only to have it confirmed from an unlikely source.

As a CAP chaplain, I also work with the CAP Cadet Program (youth 12 – 21 years of age) teaching ethical and critical decision making; and work in Emergency Services counseling CAP crewmembers and victims of disasters.”

What a change of direction for David Poland; from “pushing troops” in a Military Intelligence unit, to completing multiple graduate degrees, including two doctorates in ministry and counseling.  Whether in a nursing home, his Civil Air Patrol Squadron, or officiating veteran burials in a National Cemetery, Chaplain Poland has the boldness and sensitivity to share the Good News of Jesus Christ in life’s most difficult situations.  Pray for Chaplain Poland and the seven other CBAmerica-endorsed Civil Air Patrol chaplains serving in eight different states.

 

 

When Heaven Comes Down

thCAHBXI47A report from Chaplain David Kuntz illustrates the Kingdom impact of his ministry and the ministry of the other 37 CB hospital and hospice chaplains across America.

From David’s report:

“Heaven can be sometimes present and future. As I walk along life’s pathway with Emanuel – God with us, I am reminded that I am already in touch with the essence of Heaven. God is with me, in me and all around me. Each day in the hospital I am blessed with hints of Heaven in my ministry.

This past week I was able to meditate on this glorious truth. I witnessed a mother and father’s prayer for their daughter and her child.

Here is the story: A single mother was told her unborn child had a serious heart defect. This specific diagnosis would require three major open heart surgeries. The children who make it through the heart surgeries and long hospital stays have a short life expectancy. In this case the mother of the child had three specific tests done that confirmed her child had a bad heart defect.

The mom delivered and the baby was med-flighted to us. When the baby arrived in our hospital, we did a test to see the heart defect and it was gone! The cardiologists were stunned. The mother told me that her parents were Christians, but she was not. She said she had not prayed much until she was given the bad news about her son.

She relayed to me that she had many prayer chains going for her son. To her regret, she told me she did not believe in God, but now she does and she wants to follow HIM. I asked her what she named her son and she told me Luke because he was a real heart doctor.

This week Heaven came down in the middle of the room as this mom returned back to her loving Father.”