Reflections on Being Present in the Present

8 months in the Middle East

By Chaplain Greg Uvila, US Navy

Christmas is sneaking around the neighborhood – colorful lights encircle the rooftops, palm trees ablaze with white shimmering lights, yes, the most wonderful time of the year is upon us. Just last night we were scouring Amazon for some “necessary” Seahawk paraphernalia – you know, critical presents for the family.  Thinking presents, thinking presence, reflecting on God’s goodness in our midst, divine presence.

I’m fascinated by the idea of presence- full, primary color presence. As a CBA Chaplain, this is what gets me up in the morning, it is what gets my motor going, my synapses firing, this and a cup of “Joe” and I am good to go!  Offering some sense of Divine presence is what gets me up also in the middle of the night – a Marine or Sailor in crisis- the privilege of seizing the opportunity to bring Christ’s presence to the hurting, to those whose hope is flagging, to those whose “hope tank” has been on empty for 63 miles.

Presence for the Displaced – “Of course there is a spot for you on the worship team, more importantly there is always a spot for you at the center of God’s heart.” These basic messages I sought to convey to one of our senior leaders on deployment.  Recently she had been removed from her position at church as a worship leader.  Why?  She was newly divorced.  She was hurting, let down, discouraged, the church and God’s people had disappointed her in a humongous way.  By offering unmitigated presence (I hope) a God bridge was rebuilt to her heart, by which Christ was able to cross over and offer love and acceptance.  By the end of deployment guess who was an integral part of our worship team in Kuwait?

Side bar- this is what is so, so, valuable as a Navy/CBA endorsed Chaplain, we don’t have the trappings of church policy to get untangled from, we enjoy the privilege to wildly offer the grace of God in the grandeur of red, and green and blue.

Presence for the Priest – Everyday almost exactly at 1640 (4:40pm) the priest from one of our coalition partners, in this case Poland, would stick his head inside my office door and say, “Good afternoon Father,” which I in turn would respond, “Good afternoon Father.” When this first took place, shortly after “Father’s arrival,” I thought about correcting him, bringing him in line with my theological views, but then I questioned myself, “Would Jesus really clarify?”  Na, I thought, more important matters matter more to Jesus.  So I received the honor and respect from a fellow priest, a priest from Poland.  Presence empowering acceptance, presence empowering deferral.  The result?  I gained a friend, a comrade, a forever brother.

Presence for my body guard – Brad from Reno. As many of you know Chaplains are non-combatants.  According to the Geneva Conventions (International laws for governing war) Chaplains are considered non-combatants and therefore cannot pack heat, carry a firearm.  However, Chaplain’s Assistants can.  My assistant for my 8+ plus months in Kuwait was Brad from Reno, at least that is where he grew up.  He was actually on loan from the 11th Marine Regiment out of Camp Pendleton.  Five years from now most of my memories about Kuwait will dissipate as quickly as the dust from the many “dust abouts” we experienced throughout deployment.  However, there is one memory that will last forever, an eternal reminder of the tranquility which the presence of the Spirit brings when two people quiet their hearts before our Lord.  How did we do this?  Perhaps 2-3 times a week, sometimes more, sometimes less, we would sit down and read author Max Lucado’s “I choose love” a descriptor of what it means to live the Spirit’s presence on a daily basis.  Divine presence offered to my assistant by simply, proactively, inviting him to sit with me and reflect, for a few moments, in God’s direction.

Praying and sitting in silence with Markus – As a Chaplain (Andy knows this all too well), there are many sacred moments we are called on to be there, to be fully alive there, present there, not somewhere else. These moments frequently show-up unannounced, stealth like.  No warning, they just mystically arrive at your doorstep literally and symbolically.  I had some of those while in Kuwait, one of them I will never forget.  I was two hours or so deep in my sleep- dreaming of being back home in the great Northwest with family and friends.  At any rate, my bedroom door boomed alive, the knocks I’m sure could be heard across the camp.  “Chaps, S-1 needs you now, someone died!”  I quickly scampered out of bed, with the same passion and frenzy of a fireman just hearing his alarm.  As I headed hastily down toward the COC (Combat Operations Center) I remember thinking, how could it be so hot at 1230 am?  Shortly thereafter I arrived.  Our Gunny Sergeant met me at the door, “Markus just received news that his son just died…” as the words tailed off, ripe in sadness and regret, GySgt pointed across the street where Markus sat.  His head was slumped over, buried between his knees.  I carefully made my way over to my friend, stooped over, touched his knee, “Hey bud,” “Hey Chaps,” “I’m so, so, so, sorry Markus.”  I don’t remember much more about that night- what I said or didn’t say.  But what I do remember is just sitting with him, present with him, in his grief, in his sadness, in his absolute confusion and bewilderment, present in the unimaginable present.

Presence for the Chaplain  I will never forget those early runs, those solo runs, just me, God, and Hillsong radio worship- thanks Amazon!  I followed the PT (Physical Training) trail as it wound out near the main gate- in the distance I could see the oil stacks of Kuwait burning, glowing across the eastern horizon, perhaps these were the same infamous refineries set ablaze by the Iraqis over two decades ago. When they invaded Kuwait and as a country we said, “Not so fast, not so much.”  If I ran the path out and back, twice, it gave me a decent cardio workout and it provided much needed time to worship, to pray, to clear my head, to renew, and at times pour my heart out to the God who loves to be present when I am seeking His presence.  Presence, the doorway through which God walks with us, talks to us, nurtures us, loves us, and blesses us.

Presence for the congregation Such rich worship we experienced at Al Jaber Air base in Kuwait. This occurred in large part thanks to my Air Force counterpart, Chaplain Rob Pitts, from Tacoma, Washington.  Under his kind, “all are welcome leadership,” the U.S. Air Force so graciously allowed us to use office spaces as places to counsel and worship spaces as spots to enjoy the presence of God and the presence of one another.  As we faithfully showed up, so too God.  The simple chapel was a place where we witnessed uniformed men and women worship and proclaim a new-found faith in Christ.  This was a home where we were honored to watch four Marines get baptized.  This was a place where tears were shed, prayers were offered, hugs shared and embraced, and communion received.

Presence for the “Be Back”As a Chaplain we are called to care, care for all, seeking to bring His presence in a variety of times and places. Sometimes showing unmitigated presence can be a challenge, usually the hardest times are the unexpected arrivals where you need to be “game on” in seconds, not minutes.  I just had finished preaching, chatting with folks, enjoying their friendship and relieved that the sermon was now in the hands of God for Him and the Spirit to do their work.  I glanced across the Chapel and there he was the “be back.”  In my flesh I thought he’s back again?  Not now!  I’m spent!  But the 30 year old Marine was sobbing, deep sighs, uncontrollable crying- I had to respond, my fatigue and frustration was quickly laid to rest, much like a football player who tosses his warm-up jacket aside when his number is called, it’s game on!  I quickly grabbed a chair, placed my arm on my friend’s shoulder, “What’s wrong?”  “Chaps!  Nothin’!  I’m just leaving Tuesday and I’m just so moved by our times together, the fellowship I received at the chapel here, my new-found friends, I’m going to miss it, miss you, miss everyone.” I was dumbfounded – amazed at God’s good grace in the midst of our sessions together and worship together- embarrassed too by my initial response to my tender brother.  Presence, you just don’t know its power and impact on others.

Presence with the Colonel – Deployment was long. What made it especially long was not only the length but the lack of liberty.  We had none.  However, we did have an officers’ social “Professional Military Education” with the Colonel which was very close to a liberty night in Kuwait City.  We got dressed to the eights “that’s close to the nines” and had a great time out.  It was amazing how close (within two hours of the air base) the real world existed- taxis, buses, high rises, hotels, malls, camels, people, people, some more camels and more people.   Did I mention camels and people?  At the conclusion of this “training exercise,” at the four star restaurant, with bellies bulging and appetites completely satiated, we were invited upstairs for a night cap “Turkish coffee.”  I thought Starbucks was on the strong side, right!

Allow me to digress. For most of us we are familiar with the traditions within the military.  It is a community replete with formalities and hierarchies.  As a Chaplain I am called to minister across all ranks- from the most junior to the most senior Marine, including the Colonel.  This night I had the honor of sitting next to the king, I mean the Colonel.  (No one was sitting next to him and I refused to see him go through the awkward seconds of nobody sitting with him, so, with his permission, I took the chair on his right flank).

So there we sat, making small talk, Colonel and Chaps. Much to my dismay, as this part of the evening played out and wound down everyone got the special coffee but the Colonel.  At one point, I asked the Colonel if he wanted some of the brew and he said, “Ah, don’t worry about it.”  But I knew better.  Further, you never leave the king, uh Colonel out.  Shouldn’t he have been served first?  Or at least been offered the first cup?  Seeking to be present with the boss (ya think?), I watched the attendants with the same undaunted attentiveness my German Shepherd, Tank, watches me as I deliver his biscuits.  Sure enough, the servers finished serving those seated on the North side of the room and then escaped, unquestioned, back into the kitchen.  “Not on my watch I thought.”  I got up and casually sauntered to the host and discreetly pointed the Colonel’s way, muttering discreetly but emphatically, “Uh, excuse me, you forgot someone, the Colonel!”  Moments later I was back in my seat with a server hot on my tail.”  “Coffee, Sir?” I heard the Kuwaiti ask my boss.  “Why of course, thank you.”  With a twinkle in his eye he turned my way and said, “Cheers Chaps,” to which I happily returned, “Cheers Colonel.”  Not a big deal, right?  Wrong!  Being able to receive a whole-hearted “Cheers Chaps” from the king-uh, that’s right, Colonel, was an incredible culmination to a challenging deployment, and a most awesome personal perk.

You know, going in, when we are with others at coffee, at breakfast, on the subway, at the gym, in the car, we never know the potential impact on others when we genuinely, sincerely, seek to be present in the present with them, right? Hey, what about this Christmas?  How about offering the King a present?  The gift of our presence, it is the greatest present we could ever give Him and it is a beautiful and glorious gift we give one another.

CBA Chaplain Greg Uvila was deployed to Al Jaber Air Base, Kuwait, from December 2016 to August 2017 with U.S. Marines and U.S. Air Force Airmen in support of Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR). Greg and his wife, Nancy, have been endorsed by CB America since 2009.

For more stories on the impact of CBAmerica chaplains, go to www.cbamerica.org/chaplaincy

Care Packages to Kuwait: Help Chaplains Support those fighting ISIS

 From Chaplain Dan Rice, US Army, Deployed

[Director’s Note: Last year’s Christmas Care Package support went to a 4000+ PAX* USN/USMC Amphibious Taskforce in hostile waters and troops in Afghanistan. This year, we have an opportunity to support even more troops on the ground in the thick of operations fighting ISIS. Here’s a message received from Chaplain Dan Rice, “downrange.”]

Date: 11/11/2017 (Veterans Day)

From: Combined Joint Task Force Chaplain – Dan Rice To: CH(COL) Andy Meverden, USA, Retired (Director of Chaplaincy, CBA)

Sir,

Care packages will be great. Please ensure we have a way to contact and thank the donors (email and/or mailing address).

Please send:

  • Coffee, K-Cups especially, but ground coffee is also appreciated.

We use the K-Cups as a ministry.
Service Members come daily to get a free cup of coffee from us.

  • Rice Crispy treats
  • Jerky
  • Gum
  • Chocolate candy (M&Ms, Snickers, etc.)
  • Hard candy 

Our mailing address is:

Dan Rice
CJTF-OIR/Chaplain
APO AE 09306

Thank you for your prayers!

Very Respectfully,

CH (LTC) Dan Rice
CJTF-OIR Deputy Chaplain
Camp Arifjan, Kuwait

Director’s Note:  Here’s another opportunity for a church, youth, men, women, or Veterans group to make a difference and assist one of our forward-deployed chaplains.  With recent force reductions, the supply system has been greatly reduced in terms of non-military “comfort” items.  By sending Care Packages directly to chaplains, you ensure safe arrival to a known individual, and provide our chaplains with “resources” that will bring goodies from “home” to those literally on the front lines.  If you use USPS Priority Mail® Flat-Rate shipping boxes, be sure to tell the postal clerk this is a military “Care Package,” to receive a $1 discount on postage! Include a signed holiday greeting card with sender’s address info (& email) so recipients can reply.

Note: “PAX” is a military term for individual troops. 400 Army PAX = 400 Soldiers)

For more stories of CBAmerica chaplains on the front lines of ministry at home and abroad, go to www.cbamerica.org/chaplaincy

 

 

 

Life and Death in the New York National Guard

Annual Training, Fighting Wars & Responding to Hurricanes

By Chaplain Tim Miller, Fulltime Support Chaplain

After the unexpected death of a Soldier in their 50s, I provided direct ministry support to the Soldiers of the unit, because God made sure I was at their Annual Training location in Ft. Drum.

In fact, the day before the incident, the same Soldier that died had offered up his maintenance tent as a place to provide a worship service to his unit — and he even attended! He even offered me coffee both before and after the service. The next day his artery collapsed while he was performing his hygiene. The next several days became a whirlwind of activity, but the Soldiers were provided an opportunity to not only grieve, but to also bury their fellow Soldier. I’m so glad that God gave me the opportunity to minister in that moment.

Another great blessing was to see over 500 Soldiers return safely from overseas deployment, to include our 2 Unit Ministry Teams (UMT’s). It was encouraging to see the ministry impact that these Chaplains and Religious Affairs NCO’s had on our deployed Soldiers. It’s also good to have additional UMT resources back in the state to provide additional coverage for our large force structure. (The New York National Guard has 10,000 Army and 6,000 Air personnel).

Prayer Concerns:

We lost two Soldiers this quarter, one to suicide and another to a collapsed artery during Annual Training. Please pray for the families of the deceased, and for the impact on the NY Army National Guard Engineers. They have experienced in this year alone; 2 suicides, 1 unexpected death, and 3 deaths in their veteran population. It is sad when there are more deaths stateside than in combat.

NY State is also a large part of the deployed force in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands:

  • Please pray for those who are still deployed in hurricane recovery.
  • State Active Duty missions* away from home are a strain on many of the families and employers.
  • Sadly, many of the Federal Laws that cover our National Guard Soldiers on Federal missions do not cover National Guard Soldiers on State Active Duty.
  • Pray that all of them can return to their civilian careers and families without difficulty.

Respectfully submitted,

Chaplain Tim Miller

Pray for Chaplain Miller as he provides fulltime pastoral support to the New York Army National Guard. He is one of several CBAmerica chaplains serving fulltime in Army and Air National Guard units in the 54 States, Territories, Commonwealths, and District of Columbia.

*Note: The Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) is a mutual aid agreement between states and territories of the United States. It enables states to share resources during natural and man-made disasters, including terrorism. A major component is the National Guard (Army and Air) which can be requested by the Governor, when local resources are overwhelmed or special capabilities are needed.

For more stories of CBAmerica chaplains, go to http://www.cbamerica.org/. For information on endorsement for one of the many types of chaplaincy available, contact Andy Meverden, Director of Chaplaincy at chapandy@cbamerica.org.

Discipleship in the Desert

By Chaplain Sean Callahan

US Army Reserve deployed to Kuwait

 

This quarter I launched a discipleship huddle after wrestling with the Lord about it for a couple of months. The intent of the huddle is to disciple individuals into leadership. Through weekly meetings, we would explore techniques on studying the Scripture and growing in our faith, small group leading, discipleship, and accountability. Once their deployment time or the huddle came to an end, they would be equipped to lead small groups and disciple others.

The problem I faced, and the question I continually asked myself, was, “Do I have enough time to actually do this?” But the more I tried to push off the decision, the more it burned in my heart. Finally, I gave it over to the Lord and made an announcement on a Sunday morning to see if anyone would be interested. Three Soldiers talked to me after the service, and our huddle was born.

We are now up to 5 Soldiers, with ranks from SGT (Sergeant) all the way up to LTC (Lieutenant Colonel), who gather together every Monday night at the Starbucks in Camp Arifjan*. They take the huddle more seriously than I would have ever imagined, making it a priority amidst their busy schedules. I am continually humbled by the way God is working in their lives, and how eager they are to be challenged and grow.

This has bled into both their professional and personal lives. Several of the Soldiers now look for ways to talk about the Gospel with their peers. Others are trying to change their leadership styles to more closely reflect the love and grace of Christ. Still others have expressed a desire to step up and lead in Bible study and chapel.

Two of the Soldiers now regularly lead my Bible study on Tuesdays. We are currently working our way through the Gospel of John, and for the first time they are developing a study and questions from the text itself.

One of the Soldiers recently began a Bible study for a group of unbelievers in his company. There were a few Soldiers who expressed an openness to looking at the Bible, and so he received permission to meet in a classroom at his unit and hold the study. He has been greatly encouraged by the questions they are asking and the opportunities he has had to point them to Christ.

Another Soldier feels the call to ministry, and has jumped at every opportunity I have given him to lead our small group or our worship team. He is excited about the ways in which he has been challenged to grow in his faith and understanding of the Word, and can’t wait to return home to reengage his church.

I have found that no matter how tired I am, or what kind of day it has been, Monday nights are a highlight of my week. It’s a chance to witness first hand God’s amazing grace, and to partner with the work the Holy Spirit is already doing in these Soldiers’ lives. The huddle has also been a force multiplier for me, and what I have seen happening in this group is God equipping Soldiers to do His Kingdom work in our AOR (Area of Responsibility), and doing it in ways that far exceed my own gifting or capabilities.

When we make disciples, those disciples become force multipliers for the Kingdom Mission. I am thankful for the opportunity to be a part of these Soldiers’ discipleship journey.

Please Pray for:

  • Endurance for the remainder of the deployment;
  • Spiritual sensitivity and openness in our Soldiers;
  • Spiritual growth and transformation of the Soldiers in our discipleship huddle

Respectfully submitted:

Chaplain Sean Callahan

Note:

*Due to its central location, Camp Arifjan, Kuwait has a few extra MWR (Morale, Welfare, & Recreation) amenities; Subway, Chili’s, and Starbucks are among them! Many of his units, however, are in much more austere locations.

More stories of real-time chaplaincy ministry near and far, can be found at www.cbamerica.org/chaplaincy. For information on chaplaincy endorsement, contact Andy Meverden, Director of Chaplaincy, at chapandy@cbamerica.org.

On the Road, Again!

By Chaplain Tom Pousche, Chaplain to Transit Workers…and the World!

Kenyan Election Turmoil: (Essential background information to this article.)

General elections were held in Kenya on 8 August 2017 to elect the President, members of Parliament and devolved governments. The reported results indicated that incumbent President Kenyatta was re-elected with 54% of the vote. His main opponent, Raila Odinga, refused to accept the results and contested them in the Supreme Court. The results of the presidential election were subsequently annulled and fresh elections were ordered to be held within 60 days. It was later announced that a new election would be held on October 17. However, the results of the parliamentary and local elections remained valid. The date for the presidential election was later changed to 26th October 2017. Despite the ruling for a new Presidential election, Odinga later announced his decision to withdraw from the repeat election on October 10.   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kenyan_general_election,_2017

 During this political upheaval, Chaplain Tom Pousche arrived on a ministry trip to Kenya.

 2017 Ministry Report:

Elections in Kenya: Due to possible violence & killings in nearby Kisumu, Kenya, I was unable to facilitate two scheduled conferences and teach an Ethics Counseling Class. However, I was placed on a Debriefing Counseling Team, which allowed me to assist in diffusing some of the high tensions and possible killings in the streets of Kisumu. The good news; that election was nullified. Chaplain skills were modeled and trained.

Evangelism: One of my supporters (a Navy guy who served with me on the island of Guam back in 1969), and who also was a member of the Christian Servicemen’s Center, supplied me with a box of Bible tracts to take to Africa. He purchased & shipped the whole box for me. These Bible tracts were written in Swahili and were well-received; in the market-place and in the slum section where the very poor live. I’m scheduled to fly to San Francisco, California to meet him, and to minister in his home church. We haven’t seen each other in 48 years. Totally unbelievable!

Chaplain Jared: I was scheduled to speak at his church and to facilitate a conference in Awendo. However, due to the possible violence and road closures due to the elections, those engagements were postponed until next year. I have spent a little time on the phone with Jared, and he has given a positive report on his church growth, and he has also facilitated two chaplaincy committee meetings since I left Africa.

 Illness: Due to an unfortunate illness, I was forced to return for medical treatment in America four weeks early. After a couple days in the hospital, I had surgery that went well. I’m due for another surgery in November which will put closure to this illness that forced me to return.

Salvations/Baptisms: This past year, I had the privilege in leading many to the Lord through conferences/Crusades in Kenya. I was also involved in helping to baptize 36 individuals in Awendo after preaching an expository message, and teaching a Baptismal class. It was such a rewarding experience to see Chaplain Jared’s church grow and mature. In fact, his church has grown so much, that Kathy and I purchased several sets of chairs to accommodate all the people coming to attend his church.

Prayer Requests:

  • For Chaplain Jared as he trusts Christ Jesus for more theological education;
  • For the upcoming elections that the right president will be chosen;
  • For recovery from upcoming surgery that is scheduled for November 3rd;
  • For the fruit of my ministry in Kenya: that more people will come to Christ, and others will multiply their Christian faith because of my teachings, sermons, and conference material. I love these people!!!

Biggest Blessing: A young 16-year-old African girl attending a girl’s boarding school woke up in the middle of the night to discover her dorm on fire. She woke up 12 young girls and helped usher them safely outside. However, there was one more girl in the dorm and she went back in to help wake her up. As a result, she burned up alive. I was honored to go to the poorest place on earth (Kibera—The largest slum area in the world, where her single mother and big brother lived. It was there I was asked to minister. It was a complete joy to teach the Scriptures on the importance of “Mountains & Valleys.” The 20 African ladies who were by my side had not a dry eye. It was a moving experience I shall never forget. This little teenage girl was a true hero.

I simply enjoy the ministry that God guided me to in Kenya. I’m working on my 5th year with scheduling my 12th trip with Kathy in July-August of 2018 (Matthew 28:19-20; John 15:16); and can’t wait to get back in country, preaching the Word of God to a most precious people.

Tom Pousche

Dr. Tom Pousche is a “retired” transit chaplain with masters of divinity, and a doctor of ministry degrees. A writer, chaplain trainer, and inspirational speaker, he still enjoys driving (and test-driving) big trucks, and taking long walks with his wife, Kathy. The Pousches are residents of Camas, Washington, when they’re not traveling and ministering, including of all places, Africa!

For more stories of chaplaincy ministry, in the US and abroad, go to www.cbamerica.org/chaplaincy. For information on chaplain endorsement, contact Andy Meverden, CBAmerica’s Director of Chaplaincy at chapandy@cbamerica.org.

Why I Continue Supporting CBAmerica Chaplaincy: A Retiree’s Perspective

By Rev. Jan Michael Nace, Pastor and Retired Prison Chaplain

Introductory remarks by Andy Meverden: In my post-seminary, graduate training as an organizational development consultant, I learned that adults don’t like surprises – children do – but most adults don’t. Unless of course, it’s extremely positive.

Well, I just received a wonderful surprise.  It came in the form of an email from one of our retired chaplains, Michael and Sylvie Nace, who retired after 30 years of fruitful prison ministry in Canada and New York State. It was just a short email asking where to send a gift to support CBAmerica chaplaincy.  Initially, I simply thanked him, and gave him the home office address in Longmont, Colorado.  Then, after letting the kindness wash over me, I sent a second email, asking him to explain why.  This is Pastor Nace’s reply:

“I recently retired from corrections Chaplaincy as an endorsed CB Chaplain. Since retirement I have missed the warm and supportive relationship I had while a Chaplain; even though I continue communication with both Al and Andy, my former Directors. In all my ministry years, I had never had such support and affirmation as I received from these two CB Directors. They were always available and always in my corner when I needed them. They were like a spiritual lifeline during spiritual warfare at times. There was a time I was almost denied practicing an immersion baptism and CB came to the rescue offering legal support and assured me I would be able to continue baptizing by immersion.

Now that I am a pastor again, I realize the value of CB America Chaplaincy more than ever. My Chaplaincy years were like a learning school. Since retirement from Chaplaincy, I felt as time went on to not support CB Chaplaincy financially would be (for me) almost like abandoning them after all the years they supported me.

Today I am sending a check as a retiree, as a retired Chaplain, to show my ongoing gratitude and appreciation for the support and prayers they gave me nearly 20 years of ministry as a Chaplain. I believe it is the very least I can do to continue this valuable ministry CB provides their Chaplains. As a member of the CB Chaplaincy family–only retired—I want to show how much I appreciate them and always will, so I plan to send the occasional financial support whenever possible to show them my true feelings.”

Gratefully,

Michael

Rev. Jan Michael Nace, Pastor

www.Mark1615Ministries.com
www.JavaChurch.net
www.emai.org

Pastor Nace and wife, Sylvie, are one of many “retired” chaplains who continue in a new chapter of ministry; in their case, pastoral ministry. Pastor Nace still supports prison ministry — no surprise there!”

For more stories of the wide variety of chaplaincy ministries under CBAmerica, go to www.cbamerica.org/chaplaincy, and for information on what it takes to serve as a chaplain, contact Andy Meverden, director of chaplaincy at chapandy@cbamerica.org.

Chaplains Recognized for Outstanding Ministry Service

By Andy Meverden, Director of Chaplaincy

Founded in 1925 and chartered in 1950 by the 81st Congress, the Military Chaplains Association (MCA) is a professional military chaplain support and Veterans Service Organization (VSO).  The MCA is dedicated to the religious freedom and spiritual welfare of our Armed Services members, Veterans, their families and survivors. Its members serve or have served in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Department of Veterans Affairs, or Air Force Auxiliary Civil Air Patrol chaplaincies (CAP). www.mca-usa.org

Every year, the MCA receives nominations from the various military chaplaincies of individuals who model “exceptional ministry professionalism, expertise in an environment of diverse individuals, resiliency, and effectiveness in addressing the spiritual and/or moral needs and issues of our men and women facing demands of life and duty in the modern military environment.” Those selected receive the MCA Distinguished Service Award.

This year, not one, but two CBAmerica Chaplains will receive the MCA Distinguished Service Award at the Annual Award Banquet held 24 October in Newport News, Virginia.  In time-honored military tradition, I present them in order of rank and seniority.

Chaplain, Lieutenant Colonel, David & Jean Bobbey, CAP.  The notifying email reads:

“Chaplain Bobbey – Congratulations! You are the recipient of the 2017 MCA Distinguished Service Award for exceptional military ministry as a Civil Air Patrol chaplain.”

Chaplain Bobbey forwarded his notification to me with the accompanying note: “Dear Chaplain Meverden, I have been richly blessed by the Grace and Mercy of the Lord in so many ways; and the attached FYI is just one of them. At age 80, the honor & privilege of serving the Lord in CAP as well as in Cadence is awesome.  Very Respectfully, Dave Bobbey”

Dave and Jean served 20 years active duty in the Army chaplaincy; including a tour in Vietnam. After that they ministered with US servicemembers through Cadence International, an evangelical mission agency dedicated to reaching the military communities of the United States and of the world with the Good News of Jesus Christ.

They started the first Cadence ministry at Ft Bragg/Pope AFB which grew to three Cadence ministries. In February of 2003, Dave was reappointed as a chaplain with the Civil Air Patrol, an Auxiliary of the US Air Force. Its mission is to “support America’s communities with emergency response, diverse aviation and ground services, youth development, and promotion of air, space and cyber power.” They have been married 54 years, and have three married children and seven grandchildren.  At age 80, Chaplain Bobbey, shows little signs of stopping!

For his “exceptional military ministry as a Civil Air Patrol chaplain,” Lieutenant Colonel David Bobbey was selected to receive the MCA Distinguished Service Award.

Lieutenant Commander Jonathan & Melissa Stephens, CHC, US Navy Chaplain Stephen’s notifying email reads:

“Chaplain Stephens – Congratulations! You are the recipient of the 2017 MCA Distinguished Service Award for exceptional military ministry as a Navy chaplain, active component.”

I learned of this award, not by email, but through a phone call from Chaplain Stephens currently stationed with his wife and baby daughter, Louisa, in Japan.

The nature of our call was serious and the tone, somber. We were discussing Jonathan’s critical ministry response to the crews of the USS Fitzgerald, and the USS John McCain, US Navy destroyers that recently collided with large commercial vessels. As the squadron chaplain, he was flown out to both ships immediately following each incident.

Recently assigned to Naval Base Yokosuka, Japan, he was called out in the middle of the night to minister on the Fitzgerald, where seven Sailors died on 17 June 2017. The following weeks were a flurry of casualty notifications, dignified transfers, memorial services, and crew and family counseling. We ended our call with prayer for God to sustain and guide Chaplain Stephens’ life and ministry.

In the aftermath of the Fitzgerald incident, the unthinkable occurred. Another ship from his squadron, the USS John S McCain, collided with a vessel in Singaporean waters on 21 August where ten Sailors died. This time, instead of returning to Naval Base Yokosuka for reconstitution and repair, the McCain and crew headed to Singapore. There Chaplain Stephens stayed for several weeks ministering and bonding with the crew.

Once again, the ensuring weeks were filled with casualty recovery, ship stability operations, dignified transfers, memorial services and crew counseling in Singapore. Upon return with the ship’s crew to Yokosuka, Chaplain Stephens, with support of his wife, Melissa, ministered to the broken-hearted. In our phone calls following the McCain tragedy, I listened to a chaplain who, more than ever, needed God’s sustaining power, direction, and protection.
For his “exceptional military ministry as a Navy chaplain,” Lieutenant Commander Jonathan Stephens was selected to receive the MCA Distinguished Service Award.

The Board of CBAmerica recognizes Chaplain David and Jean Bobbey, and Chaplain Jonathan and Melissa Stephens for their faithful Kingdom ministry in the Civil Air Patrol, and the US Navy. We thank God for them and the other 190 CB chaplains who serve across the US and around the world in military and civilian chaplain ministries.

For more stories of God-honoring chaplain ministry, go to www.cbamerica.org/chaplaincy.

Contact CBAmerica’s Director of Chaplaincy, Andy Meverden, at chapandy@cbamerica.org for information on endorsement.

A Ministry Story from a Corporate Workplace Chaplain

By Chaplain Hank Fields
Corporate Chaplains of America (CCA)

Five months into my rounding schedule at one of the companies where I serve as a chaplain, I passed by Chris’ desk and he looked up at me and asked, “Can we go talk?”  Chris is man in his early thirties, articulate, and holds an important “people person” position in his company. We met in a private place on site and for the next hour and a half he shared his story, without much emotion and in a kind of matter-of-fact way.  He was obviously disillusioned with life and perhaps talking with a chaplain was a final shot in the dark to make some sense of it all.  He was wrestling with confusion, and frustration, and disillusionment all at once.

He started with the death of his younger brother six years ago and how his brother had just moved to Charlotte, NC to be near him and start a new life, then his brother dies suddenly.  Chris then moved into a heart-wrenching story of love and betrayal in his marriage.  Currently he was legally separated and the divorce would be final soon.

He spoke of the woman he loved, a three-year-old son he adores, and the revelation a year ago that his wife was having an affair with the contractor who was building their dream home.  He began to bristle with anger talking about being near the man who stole his wife and who is living in that home with his wife, and the anguish of only seeing his son every other weekend while having to listen to his boy say good things about his “other daddy.”

Then he shared his Christian faith and how he has tried to stay faithful to God even though he’s angry and confused by it all.  He had all kinds of correct knowledge about God but seemed to talk about God like he was keeping God at a distance. The good thing was he wasn’t going to abandon his faith.

There was so much to his story.  Where was I supposed to begin?

After confirming his salvation experience, I asked him what troubled him the most in all. He said the anger.  I agreed with him and suggested one more thing:  His relationship to God.  I shared that although he knows all the correct truths, he seemed detached when he talked about God.  He said he couldn’t remember the last time he had a heart-to-heart conversation with God.

So, I proposed two things:  Complete a bible study on anger which I would tailor to his needs, and clear off an uninterrupted time and place to have an honest conversation with God.  Just say what he felt—directly to God—with no filters.  I told him God could take it!  Say it like it is in your heart and leave nothing hidden.

Some time passed and Chris was cordial but said little about what was going on.  He joined a men’s bible study I was facilitating in the workplace and became an active participant.  Recently he shared a testimony with the group. He referred to our conversation and said he did the study on anger, and took a block of time and got real with God, completely honest.  He shared that he woke up the next morning and all the anger he had in his heart toward the man who stole his wife was gone!  It just wasn’t there.  He said he could be in the same room now and treat him just like anyone else.  He knew that God did it and he felt so free!

A lesson in this for me is that as chaplains one of our greatest opportunities is to not only share what we know about God, but to direct people to God—and encourage them to be honest with Him.  I was reminded that power for spiritual transformation doesn’t lie within me and the employee’s contact with my wisdom.  Spiritual transformation lies in their encounter and relationship with God.  I might talk and share and guide and do all kinds of things, but it’s truly amazing to me what God can do in a person’s heart, in just an instant.

Rev. Hank L. Fields is a full-time chaplain serving under the ministry of Corporate Chaplains of America (CCA) whose mission statement is “to build caring relationships with others in the hope of receiving permission to share the good news of Jesus Christ in a non-threatening manner.”  Corporate chaplains provide confidential and permission-based care to owners and employees by “rounding” * once a week in the workplace, providing individual care sessions for those in need, and responding 24/7 in crisis situations. CCA chaplains serve over 450 companies in nearly 1,000 locations across 42 states.  Rev. Hank L. Fields serves five companies in the Charlotte, NC area.

Note: * “Rounding” is the practice of systematically visiting employees in their workplace; like a doctor making “rounds” of hospitalized patients. It is intentional pastoral contact with corporate members.

Hank Fields is one of many CBAmerica chaplains endorsed for ministry in the US market place. Join me in thanking God for CEOs and other corporate executives who see the need for pastoral care in the workplace.  From executive offices, to food processing plants, to manufacturing facilities (yes, even vehicle batteries), chaplains are operating daily as part of company employee assistant programs (EAP).  Pray that Hank will have eyes to see, ears to hear, and the words of God to speak in each encounter.

 

For more stories of creative and effective chaplaincy ministries, go to www.cbamerica.org/chaplaincy. For information on chaplaincy endorsement, contact Andy Meverden, Director of Chaplaincy, at chapandy@cbamerica.org.

Lord, I Know You’re Busy, I’m Just Trying to Help

By Chaplain Joe Gomez
Law Enforcement Chaplain

 

Like Philip after witnessing to the Ethiopian Eunuch, Chaplain Joe Gomez of Hollywood, Florida, serendipitously found himself swept away to Ecuador!  How did he get there?  What is he doing?  How is he surviving?  Did he take his endorsement with him?  Read on to find out.

Dear Chaplain Andrew,

As per your request, some background on me, as you are new to the endorser role. I was born and raised in New York City of Puerto Rican parents, where my “Mountains” were skyscrapers like the Twin Towers, and Empire State Building. The “green grass” under my feet was blacktop and cement.  And no, I was not in a gang, enough said!!

My day of salvation was the first week of Dec. 1980 during a very tough time in my life. I heard the Word preached at a couple of churches,  on the streets of the South Bronx amidst the drug dealers, and children playing. Back in my lonely apartment I raised my arms towards Heaven, repented, and confessed Christ; as God come down from Heaven, died on the cross for my sins and resurrected. I am eternally saved.

Now what? This ex-Catholic, altar boy who played a monk at a Christmas pageant on East 29th St Catholic Church, had no clue what church to go to. God did.  He knows and sees everything but, “I’ll help Him cause he’s a busy man.”  So, riding the crowded, smelly NYC subway, I see a girl reading a Bible, and not-so-shy-me asks ” Where do you go to church?”

Well in the heart of the South Bronx I found my first Christian Church (right next to a Porno movie theater), with a chubby, ex-junkie, jailbird, Jewish, born-again pastor with a Puerto Rican wife that cooks pork. This became my first Christian church.  By the way, a year earlier I was stopped by cops right near the church for speeding.

For a long time in my “first love romance,” (with Jesus) I felt like I was walking on air. I couldn’t wait for Sundays, weeknight Bible study, men’s group, and Spring/Summer street evangelizing (because on cold snowy days you don’t dare stop anyone). I felt sorry for those who died without Christ in the winter!

As years went on, I grew in Grace, graduated into a Baptist, Reformed Theology, Calvinistic, Sovereignty of God, Zionist, New York Rican.

But in my heart, I knew I had to “GO” to another country to serve. Well like Frank Sinatra, “I did it my way,” praying, but helping God.  My wife and I visited Panama, Costa Rica, Colombia, Guayaquil Ecuador, and our 2nd Island, Puerto Rico, surround by big ocean water, not like the Island of Manhattan, with little water, where I and The Donald were born.  Nope, never stole his hub caps.  Nobody’s.

Well when I “gave up” and let God do it, He directed me through the Computer and I found Pastor Leo and Semilla de Mostaza Baptist Church (Mustard Seed Baptist Church) in Loja, Ecuador.

Part of my prayer was to focus my ministry to Cops and Corrections Officers of which I was one, along with equipping the saints, counseling, teaching, and evangelizing.

Soon afterwards, Pastor Leo informs me that his brother Juan Pablo, and his wife were visiting Miami. I said, “Send them to stay with us in Hollywood Florida.”  So here he is, in my living room, and then I asked him what does he do for a living?  He said (totally unexpected to me), ‘I’m a Police Captain in Loja!’  What!!!??????  God must have been cracking up laughing!!  He selects the place, the timing, and sends the Police Captain miles across the Ocean, to answer my prayers; in my humble home in Hollywood, Florida.

Afterwards, all the Pastor’s family, kids, some leaders, and even a group of about 10 men came to stay with us on their way to a conference in Orlando Fl. We also visited Loja, Ecuador a couple of times, and stayed with them.

A loving, family-style, Christian connection was established, and three years later (I took my early, reduced social security) here we are in Loja, Ecuador, self-funded, since June 21, 2017. (We left just prior to hurricane season!)

Idolatry and apathy prevails in this lovely, clean, safe city of over 214,000, and just 1% Christians. Lots of work to do among police and civilians. ‘Mucho’ prayers needed; but here we sovereignly are, as God sings, like Frank Sinatra “I did it My way.”  He never was too busy for me…or for you.

 

Love ya,

Joe Gomez

Pastor/Chaplain…by His Grace and Humor

“Saved to Serve”

Chaplainjoegomez@aol.com

MagicJack USA number 954-381-1922

Local home in Loja: 07 6060931

 

Chaplain “Andrew” continues: “While checking on the welfare of our chaplains in Florida and elsewhere during the recent spate of US hurricanes, I came up one chaplain short. Six of seven chaplains responded, all safe, but with varying degrees of local storm impact.  After 72 hours, Joe Gomez, of Hollywood, Florida, did not reply.  I became concerned that he might have been one whose home had been severely damaged.  As I started to research his area, I got this surprise email!  Not only was he safe, but he had recently moved with his wife to Ecuador!

The borders of ‘missions’ have been re-drawn by God’s Hand in modern times. ‘Foreign missions’ now takes place in the US, and ‘Home missions’ takes place overseas.  From its inception in 1952, CBAmerica Chaplaincy has been a hybrid of both ministries, operating among troops world-wide, and in different cultures.  Chaplain Joe and Raquel Gomez are examples of another, new variation of chaplaincy ministry – ‘retired relocation.’  Pray for Joe and Raquel Gomez as they settle into a new culture and ministry location.  Thankful for their Hispanic cultural heritage and Spanish language fluency, they hit the ground running!  Pray for ‘mucho fruit’ as the Holy Spirit empowers and directs their paths.”

 

For more encouraging stories of God’s work in and through CBAmerica chaplains, go to www.cbamerica.org/chaplaincy. If interested in what it takes to be endorsed for chaplaincy, contact Andy Meverden, Director of Chaplaincy at chapandy@cbamerica.org.

Making an Impact in Hawaii

Making an Impact in Hawaii: New Chapel Reaches Military Community

By Chaplain Brian Hargis, US Army, Schofield Barracks, Oahu

Second Quarter Ministry Report: April – June 2017

There have been so many blessings that it’s difficult to keep track. That’s why we started a Blessing Jar in our new Chapel program – Impact Chapel.  Each blessing can be written down and stuffed in the jar.  On Thanksgiving we will empty the jar and rejoice at what God has done.

In May, my wife, Tracy and I celebrated 25 years of marriage!  What a wonderful journey it’s been.

Our oldest son, Jordan, came to visit us for 6 weeks. Since he is in the Army National Guard, he could join me on the “Best Unit Ministry Team (UMT) Competition” that included Land Navigation (or Geo-caching for civilians), Field Services, an 8-mile ruck march, and flying in Blackhawk helicopters.  We have never served together in this capacity.  Jordan also played and sang for IMPACT Chapel on Sunday.  It was great!

God has given me great favor with the Installation Chaplain, and he has encouraged and empowered our growth of the new service for Hawaii called IMPACT Chapel. On Pentecost of 2017 (4 June) we launched the “official” theme.  We experienced numerous salvations and baptisms during this quarter, and most notable was the April Easter Beach Service where our attendance reached 210 and we had 12 ocean baptisms!   We meet on the beach every 3rd and 5th Sunday.

God continues to meet our needs and exceeds every expectation. We are too blessed to be stressed or depressed.

Other blessings for the quarter included visits from friends and family, as well as conducting a Strong Bonds retreat for Single Soldiers.  I also traveled to Ft. Knox and visited 120 of my Soldiers there.  They are providing summer training to ROTC Cadets. I gave 3 field services and had a handful of counseling sessions.

At the end of May we Finished up 5 months of study on the Marriage Enrichment Workshop at Main Post Chapel.  Our average attendance was 15-18.  In August, I’m going to kick off a Biblical Parenting class.

Recently the promotion board results came out and I’m on it.   I should pin on Major in December or January.

We also sold our home in Louisiana, which was a HUGE burden lifted! Thank you for praying.

But for me, the biggest blessing of the quarter was with something very unexpected from my wife Tracy. She applied for PWOC (Protestant Women of the Chapel) President, and was selected!  This is a big step for Tracy, and her sphere of influence is huge here on island.  She is an amazing woman who will do great things for the Lord and the ladies of PWOC.

Please pray for:

  • Continued strength and recovery from surgery.
  • Church ministry – salvations and growth.
  • Wisdom to lead and empower.
  • Favor with God and man.
  • Tracy – to lead and encourage ladies of PWOC.

 

For more ministry reports and stories of God working in and though CBAmerica chaplains, go to www.cbamerica.org/chaplaincy.  If interested in finding out about endorsement as a military or civilian chaplain, contact Andy Meverden, Director of Chaplaincy at chapandy@cbamerica.org.