Officer on Deck!: Oh Wait, It’s Just the New Chaplain!

Roy F

That’s probably what the Chief Petty Officer called out, as the strapping new officer with five rows of ribbons entered the building.  From a distance, the color and prominence of his 14 awards indicated that an experienced officer was approaching.  But as he got closer, the Chief relaxed when he saw the silver cross on his lapel opposite his rank.  I’m sure Chaplain Roy Fondren, a former US Marine line officer, now dressed in the Navy tan uniform, stuck out his hand and offered a firm handshake and a broad smile.  I can imagine everyone in the office watching as he was led to his office at his new, first assignment at Naval Air Station at Whiting Field in Milton, Florida.  Roy, his wife, Megan (herself for former Marine Staff Sergeant with 12 years active duty) and children, settled into their new lodging, as Chaplain Roy familiarized himself with his new assignment.  When asked to share his greatest blessing in his first ministry report, Roy wrote:

“Being used to lead three people to Christ. One in a counseling session and two at Chapel. In addition to the salvations, just the simple fact that when people come into my office, in a sense, they walk into the Gospel Den!  Because, by God’s grace, there’s NO WAY they’re going to leave without getting the Gospel message during their counseling! The big fear is Chaplain’s not being able to say “Jesus” at the end of a public prayer…but you know what, the day-to-day interactions and Light Shining of Christ I do is more effective than a singular prayer for a retirement that ends in Jesus name…when reality is, most people are just thinking about refreshments after the prayer. The GOSPEL IS GETTING OUT!!”

When asked what his prayer concerns were, his response was equally enthusiastic: “My ability to not be swallowed in Ministry. Meaning, I LOVE THIS STUFF, yet with 2400 people on this base and two Chaplains, the work is ABUNDANT!  So, it’s hard to NOT work late hours…which reduces family time.  So my prayer request would be for a healthy balance.”

In his first few weeks he was able to perform: “4 Worship Services, 1 Bible Study, and report 3 people receiving Christ.”  Oh wait, but that’s not all, when I replied to his report with affirmation and a word of caution with regards to balance between ministry and family, he almost immediately responded back to me:

“SIR!!  NO LIE!!!  ANOTHER Fella JUST came to Christ via Individual Counseling! PLUS, I connected him IMMEDIATELY to a local church here for discipleship!  This stuff…is hard to articulate!  I’m dumbfounded!   I’M CRAZY JUICED to be used by Him for the change of lives in our military folks!!  That is 7 salvations in the last 8 weeks, OH MY GOODNESS!!  Yes, Satan is Pi**ed and I’m glad!  I am diligently hungry to keep the Armor on while GOING HARD for the Gospel!  I have a similar prayer of yours but I’ll disclaim (I’m going to copy yours now)…God bless you sir!!”

Rejoice with, and pray for Chaplain Roy and Megan Fondren, as they start their chaplain career on a high note of praise, along with the other 12 CBAmerica Navy Chaplains on bases, hospitals, and vessels at sea. They are part of the 96 military and 65 civilian chaplains serving under CBAmerica endorsement.

For more information on CBAmerica Chaplaincy, including what’s entailed to become an endorsed chaplain, federal or civilian, contact Chaplain Andy Meverden at chapandy@cbmarica.org and visit www.cbamerica.org/chaplaincy for more info and chaplain stories.

NOTE: Chaplaincy is not for the feint-hearted, but sometimes, like Chaplain Roy, you just have to jump and shout for joy!

Instant In Season and Out of Season

Deployment

 

Two CBAmerica chaplains just received word of last-minute deployments to the same dangerous part of the world.

Chaplain Tim Miller, who pastors a church in New York State, and is a member of his State’s Army National Guard, has been tasked to fill in for a chaplain who is physically unable to deploy.  Tim and his wife, Jami, have a heart for ministry. They met overseas, married, and have jointly ministered to the military ever since.  Pray for Jami, herself a Staff Sergeant in the New York Air Guard, and their two daughters, who will miss their daddy for about a year.  Pray also for the church who will be giving up their pastor.  Pray for a suitable interim pastor.

Chaplain Matt Hebebrand, recently transferred with his expecting wife, Julia, and their three other children, got orders to deploy, soon!  Thankfully, the move was smooth and his family is finding Ft Polk, “not as bad as people made it sound like.”  Pray for Matt as he will be doing “team-building” on the fly.  He asks that “God’s favor would rest on me with all those who I am called to minister.”  Matt’s biggest concern is that Julia is due to deliver while he’s away.

I wrote Matt that there’s never a good time to have a baby; and there’s never a good time to deploy; but to deploy when you’re having a baby, is a double whammy!

Put yourself in their shoes; as husband, dad, pastor leaving your church and family…and not for a week or two, but over a year.  How would you want others to pray for you?  That’s a good starting place.  Join me in daily prayer over the next couple months for these two chaplains and their families.  Not only for their separation, safety and survival, but for strong, healthy Spirit-directed ministry at home and abroad.

Andy Meverden

Director of Chaplaincy

 

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.”

Warrior-Chaplain Retires

West.Retire2Though June 15 was his “last day on the job” as senior pastor of the USA Army White Sands Missile Range New Mexico Protestant Chapel, Chaplain (Lieutenant Colonel) Brad West, and his wife, Susan have their sights set on “what’s next?”

I had the joy of taking the West Family out to dinner, the evening before Brad’s retirement ceremony on June 4, with their daughter, Natalie, her husband and son.  I listened to stories of family travels, the challenges of separations due to Brad’s several deployments, plus discussion of hopes and excitement of the future.  It was a fun time of “pre-celebrating” the ending of a fruitful 23-year military career, and launch into next phase of life and ministry.  The love and levity of the mealtime gathering spoke volumes of the flexibility and commitment this family had to one another and to their chaplain husband, father and grandfather.

The next day, I drove 60 miles due west of Ft. Bliss, Texas to the 500-seat chapel where Chaplain Brad and Susan had ministered the past two-plus years.  I arrived early enough to present them with a framed painting of the Lamb of God set in the frame of the Cross.  On the reverse side was a Certificate of Recognition and Appreciation presented by the Board of CBAmerica for their many years of faithful and fruitful ministry service.  (See photo).

Then I found myself a seat near the rear of the chapel, as I had to leave before the end of ceremony to catch my plane home. (White Sands is not the end of the world, but you can see it from there!).  People began to arrive for the 3:30pm ceremony.  Among the first were the Commanding General and Command Sergeant Major of the Installation.  Normally, the “Garrison Commander” (a colonel) conducts such ceremonies, and when unable, the next in command steps in.  But not this time.  Today, another active member of the Protestant Chapel would officially “retire” Chaplain West, the Commanding General, himself.

While I waited, I would soon learn why.  People of all types began to filter in, Soldiers in uniform, some with their families, found their seats in what looked like their usual Sunday seats.  Civilians, workers and supervisors, recognized by their dress came in with teenagers, children, and a few infants and toddlers.  It struck me that it looked much like a civilian church, with people of all ages and stages of life.

One man came up to greet me, he must have been a chapel usher, and when he didn’t recognize me, I explained that I was Chaplain Brad’s endorsing agent (director of chaplaincy) for CBAmerica.  When I said that, he moved me to the side.  He looked me in the eyes and said, “I want you and your denomination to know something; Chaplain Brad saved my marriage.”  With teary eyes he briefly shared how early on Chaplain Brad detected a problem and challenged him to “man up” and be the head of his family.

Walking off, another person greeted me and asked if I knew how and why Chaplain West was assigned to the White Sands chapel.  Shaking my head, he explained that he had been serving on Ft. Bliss, and hour east, when the Army chaplain assigned to White Sands died by suicide.  My mental file searched back to a story about an Army chaplain who died by his own hand, and I realized it was Brad’s predecessor.  Army leadership were aware of the devastating impact on the chapel congregation, and looked for the right shepherd to come and gather and heal the stricken flock of believers.  Though not an assignment many would anticipate, Chaplain Brad West was the shepherd needed.

I sat down.  The ceremony began, the National Anthem played, and the incoming chaplain prayed, before the Commanding General (from memory) rehearsed Brad and Susan’s entire military career.  A believer himself, he quoted Scripture, and referenced his time under the preaching and pastoral care of one of the “Army’s finest chaplains.”  Following this 25 minute tribute, the chapel was called to attention, and Chaplain (Lieutenant Colonel) Bradley A. West was awarded the Legion of Merit for his outstanding decades of military service, including the rebuilding of the White Sands Protestant Chapel.

I slipped out and raced back over the white sands to the El Paso airport.  Boarding my plane, I belted in and pondered what I had just seen and heard.  I thanked God for allowing CBAmerica to endorse and field effective, godly chaplains like Brad West; and prayed that he and Susan would find new opportunities for ministry in the Northwest CB Region where they plan to settle near Bend, Oregon.

I encourage readers to send congratulatory emails to Brad and Susan at Bradley.allen.west1@gmail.com.  NWCB Churches interested in utilizing Chaplain West’s family life, counseling and pastoral skills are encouraged to contact him directly after July.

Report submitted by Andy Meverden, Director of Chaplaincy, CBAmerica.

Matters of Life and Death

thCAD8B2WOBy Andy Meverden, Director of Chaplaincy

Chaplain, First Lieutenant (Promotable) Matt Laun, of the New York Army National Guard is stationed at the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Base.  His mid-year ministry report caught my eye.

“It has been a difficult year for the 2/101 CAV (Air “Cavalry” Unit with helicopters). In February 2015 we lost a young Soldier to suicide. In March we lost a Soldier who fell asleep at the wheel while driving in to drill. In May we lost a young Soldier due to a motorcycle accident. Yet, in all of these events, God has provided abundant opportunities to support Soldier’s families, grow closer to our Squadron’s Soldiers, and share the love of Christ.

Two of the Soldiers and their families are professed Christians which presented the opportunity to share the gospel with hundreds of Soldiers during counseling, funerals, and ceremonies. Everything has a cause. Many times the cause is our own poor decision-making, but our God has the amazing ability to give glorious purpose to all things!!”

Each ministry report form asks chaplains to identify at least one blessing.  Matt continues: “God has continued to present opportunities to be involved with community events as a Chaplain representing the Military. This includes Iron Sharpens Iron Men’s Ministries, The National Day of Prayer, Grace Race Buffalo, memorial dedication ceremonies, and tomorrow 6/6/2015 I will have the honor of giving the invocation for a flag pole ceremony at a park in Niagara Falls, New York.”

I love Matt’s youthful enthusiasm.  He sees the problems facing the younger generation of Guard Soldiers, so he crafted a new ministry program: “In January 2015 I initiated a new Religious Education program. The initial stage of the training includes basic critical thinking. Please pray for this program as God develops critical thinking skills and opens doors for [spiritual] conversation with our young Soldiers.”

Pray for the Holy Spirit to sustain and guide Matt and the other 94 active and reserve CBAmerica military chaplains distributed across the US, in four overseas locations, and on ships cruising in hostile waters, as they deal with matters of life and death.

Contact Andy Meverden, CBAmerica’s Director of Chaplaincy, for information on what it takes to minister in specialized military and civilian settings; fulltime, part-time and volunteer. Email: chapandy@cbamerica.org

From Prison with Praise!

prisonBy Andy Meverden, Director of Chaplaincy

Chaplain Evan Spencer’s career began in the active Air Force and meandered through the Air Force Reserve, as he entered the Federal Bureau of Prisons.  He’ll be the first to tell you it hasn’t been easy, but all along the journey he used his musical gifts to elicit praise from those he served.

His last report (January to June, 2015) recorded innumerable one-on-one visits, extensive pastoral counseling with Christian inmates, Bible Studies and coaching his inside group of “chapel volunteers.”  Chaplain Spencer dedicated a significant amount of time to discipleship of those inmates serious about the Christian faith.  As a result, he led two offenders to Christ and baptized five into His Name!

Evan lifts the curtain of ministry in his report.  Part of his great joy was that he “encouraged offender ‘TB’ over a period of time last year to start attending services.  He has since given his heart to the Lord and is a regular in the chapel ministry.”  In another situation he “ministered to ‘LL’ in counseling.  He was a Pagan who was into worshipping and serving the devil for most of his life.”  He said the way that Evan explained the Gospel caused him to think.  He has subsequently dedicated his heart to the Lord, and has recently been baptized.

Join me and the angels in Heaven in rejoicing over these “lost sheep” who have been “found” in the Federal Prison.  Pray for Evan and ten other CBAmerica chaplains currently serving in Federal, State, and Military prison facilities.  Thank God for the “quiet” spiritual revolution that is taking place in the hearts of many of those incarcerated with nothing but time on their hands.  Pray for our chaplains to wisely and effectively coach and utilize volunteers from outside and inside the high walls of prison, so that the Truth of the Gospel will be clearly heard, hearts penetrated and souls saved through Jesus Christ.  (Read Matthew 26:31-46 for Jesus’ words on the importance of prison ministry.)

If you sense God’s Spirit leading you into prison ministry, contact Andy Meverden, Director of Chaplaincy for advice on how to pursue this specialized chaplaincy ministry.  Email: chapandy@cbamerica.org.

Corban alumnus ministers in unique capacity

Ian%20Howarth%20700pxMen and women in the Army National Guard too often face civilian obstacles that challenge them personally, physically and spiritually.

They struggle with marital and financial challenges, as parents, in civilian jobs and more, all which affect military readiness. In 2010, Ian Howarth, ADP ’09, made a decision to help these soldiers and airmen through serving God and his country as a military chaplain.

He is now a captain in the Idaho Air National Guard’s 124th Fighter Wing at Gowen Field just outside of Boise. Although he joined the Oregon Army National Guard in 2010, it was a decision he and his wife, Allyson, had talked about since 2004.

“I was a youth leader and met a pastor going through the chaplaincy,” he said. “It struck me how much of an impact a chaplain has on the soldiers and airmen we serve.” Although Howarth started his adult life with a desire to become a teacher, and did so for several years, he said he also had a strong desire to work in ministry.

Howarth’s long-time friend, military retiree and fellow Corban alumnus Steve Fink, ADP ’09, had many open and honest conversations with him about military life and the role of chaplains within it.

“He’s really taken on that chaplaincy role,” Fink said. “He has the ability to deal with stressful, personal situations and putting people at ease.”

Being a chaplain isn’t all the media makes it out to be, Howarth said. One example he gave is the misconception that Christian chaplains can’t pray in the name of Jesus Christ.

“It’s a weird dynamic,” he said. “You work for the federal government and you are in the military, but you represent your faith. I’ve never been in a position where I have to compromise my faith to keep my job.” He is endorsed by the Conservative Baptists Association (CBA) and said the military allows him to follow the organization’s tenants when serving military members.

However, Howarth also noted that the role of a chaplain isn’t centered on evangelism, but relationships. He builds camaraderie with those around him and uses his personal experiences to help them through many different challenges.

“I haven’t lost sight of where they come from,” he said. “I may not have the same military experience as they do, but I know what it is like to be a civilian. I know what it means to live paycheck to paycheck. I recognize the turmoil that happens in their marriages and with their kids and I am someone they can confide in.” Fink said soldiers are attracted to Howarth’s character and personality.

“He’s down to earth,” Fink said. “He’s got a phenomenal sense of humor. His heart is for kids and families. He is someone you can hang out with and feel comfortable to speak to. He listens and can put himself in places where the troops need him to be.”

Although he loves his role and believes there are Corban School of Ministry students who would make good military chaplains, he said there are important considerations. One, military chaplains need to be able to work with people from all faith groups including Catholics, Orthodox, Latter Day Saints, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and others. He also said that while Christian chaplains aren’t required to pray the rosary or offer Muslim prayers, they must be willing to help a soldier find someone who can meet their religious needs.

“It’s all about building relationships,” Howarth said. “My mission is to serve airmen and soldiers. There really is no other ministry like it.”

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