Hail and Farewell

Over the past several months, CBAmerica Chaplaincy said “Farewell,” and thank you to several faithful servants of Christ completing long-term ministries.  Chaplain Jan Michael Nace retired back to local church ministry in New York State after 30 years of fruitful prison ministry in Canada and the USA.  Chaplain, Lt Col, David Beseler retired September 1, after 26 years in the Army Reserve and Air National Guard in Washington State, and an equal number of productive parallel ministry years with the Washington State Department of Corrections.  Chaplain (LTC) Bradley West retired from Active Duty Army the end of August with over 20 years of service.  His ceremony was held in the White Sands Missile Range Protestant Chapel, after which he moved to Central Oregon where he is pursuing further ministry in the local church.  I had the honor of attending the June 4 ceremony.  Chaplain Pat Kreitler completed 18 years of industrial and hospital chaplaincy in the NW.  She decided to retire and return to Maine following a lengthy and difficult recovery from an auto accident.  Pat wanted to depart in stealth, but I think it fitting to honor her service and invite your prayers for her further recovery and transition.  Let us give thanks for their 97 years of combined service!

In the same period, we said “Hail!” to five new individuals of our chaplaincy family.  Chaplain Beverly Hartz, is the new CPE Supervisor at the Puget Sound VA Medical Center in Seattle.  Rev. Mike Eubanks of Denver was endorsed for hospice/hospital ministry, Rev. Mike Lones of Illinois for hospital ministry, Rev. Kevin Brown for industrial chaplaincy in the NW, and Chaplain, 1st Lt Dan Wilton was commissioned into the Illinois Air National Guard.  Pray for these as they seek, begin, or continue ministry in their desired specialty and location.

On the Road Again

New AndyDirector’s Travel Update: “On the Road Again…”

My summer travels have taken me to California, Arizona, D.C., Maryland, Washington and Oregon to visit chaplains, attend the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) Academy and attend Regional Network meetings.  At the Network meetings I presented updates on chaplaincy to assembled pastors, elders and lay men and women.  I also visited with area chaplains and candidates, and met with others considering chaplaincy as a career or volunteer path.

In August I attended the Navy Senior Leader Symposium (SLC) Endorser’s Day in the DC area.  Along with other endorsers, I received updates on Navy chaplaincy issues, and had opportunity to meet with Navy Chief of Chaplains, Rear Admiral Maggie Kibben, and her deputies for Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard chaplaincies.  I found it helpful to have shared presenter duties with the Navy Chief in years past.  We both did “exciting” tours in Afghanistan.  Relationships matter.

In September, I flew to Seattle, for a NW visit.  I met with Navy chaplains working with CREDO and at an Air Wing, at Oak Harbor and Whidbey Island, respectively.  Both ministries are strategic and fruitful, and exciting to follow.  Lunch with an Army Chaplain stationed at JBLM was an encouragement, as was an evening visit with an Oregon Guard/Hospice chaplain’s family in the Vancouver, WA area.  It seemed like I spent my time driving and eating.

11-13 September was invested in spending time and ministry with seven other CB chaplains at the NWCB Men’s Roundup in Central Oregon and a gathering of 1500 men!   For a second year, we “camped” in a Yurt near the Meadow Ridge Pavilion – a great facility with shower and toilet facilities.  Not only did we benefit from the food, fellowship, worship and teaching times, but our chaplains led two workshops of chaplain ministries, and one on “PTSD and Moral Injury and Healing,” with testimony from a Vietnam Vet ministered to by Chaplain Gary Cowden, Chief of Chaplain Services at the Puget Sound VA Medical Center.  Over 100 men, mostly vets, attended our sessions and “Walks with a Chaplain,” throughout the weekend.  My hat’s off to Chaplains Dave Lundell, Gordon Ruddick, Adam Kawaguchi, Paul Castillo, Brad West, and Gary Cowden for sharing their ministries and taking time to interact with a number of inquisitive and hurting men.  For those interested in attending the Men’s Roundup, check out http://mensroundup.com/ for more information on next year’s event.

Final Word:

Please accept my special thanks for your cooperation and assistance during these first nine months of my tenure as director of chaplaincy.  I will need even more grace as I transfer data from my old laptop to this new one I’m using right now.  My old laptop picked up a bad virus and I decided it was time to replace it.  My cloud backup seems to be working, but I am struggling to find a few files…they’re probably in there somewhere.

Latest word from Chaplain Al Russell is that a recent cardiac scan went well, and he’s hitting on all cylinders.  He and Carol are enjoying traveling and are having fun with their new Smart Car.  They send their greetings to all.  My wife, Myra and I plan to visit them mid-October, pick up some remaining files and visit an area supporting church.

I had the honor of laying to rest two Korean War veterans this past quarter; one an Army ordinance officer, the other a Navy diesel boat submariner.  On the way back from Ft. Logan National Cemetery, I stopped by the Colorado National Guard Headquarters to get my final retirement photo taken.  My goal is to stay physically fit enough to wear my uniform for such duties so that I might be a “chaplain for life,” and a “player-coach!”

Be aware of our continued prayers for you, your family and your ministry.  Knowing how to pray really helps keep us “on target.”

In your corner, on my knees!

Andy Meverden
Director of Chaplaincy
CBAmerica.org/chaplaincy
303-263-1675
chapandy@cbamerica.org

The Beginning and the End

AndyThe Board of CBAmerica (of which I am now a functioning member) recently went through the process of updating our Mission Statement.  What we agreed upon was: “CBAmerica champions Great Commission fulfillment through its regional networks.”  At the national level we saw this focus carried out through our eight regional church networks and, likewise, through our network of chaplains.  We came to the realization that we didn’t have eight regional networks, but nine, including chaplaincy.

In a similarly comprehensive way we crafted our new Vision Statement: “Gospel-centered congregations transforming every community.”  Like churches, many chaplains lead and develop groups of believers in military units, chapels, prisons, hospitals and other unique settings.

Then we settled on three Values: Congregational Health, Congregational Multiplication and Leadership Development, all focused on reproducing disciples, leaders and congregations.  This fits well with the variety of chaplaincy ministries, most of which have strong components of evangelism and discipleship.  

So, back to the title of this article, the “Beginning and the End.”  It comes from the Book of Revelation where it is found three times:

“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city.”  (Revelation 22:13-14 (NIV)

CBAmerica chaplaincy champions Great Commission fulfillment through the ministry of its 160 chaplains serving in paid and volunteer positions, in hospitals, prisons, hospices, police and fire departments, and among veterans groups, wounded warriors, motor clubs and other specialized ministries, across the US, and on military bases, posts, camps stations, and ships literally around the world.  A wide variety of contexts, but all fulfilling the Great Commission.

This report of our newest military chaplain Lt. Roy Fondren, assigned to the Marines, highlights how the newer generation approaches outreach.

But outreach and evangelism are not simply for the young and healthy.  “Retired” hospice chaplain, Jim McMillan, who planned to take it easy in a Florida retirement community, found a new ministry in an old, familiar setting. Both of these chaplains epitomize the Mission, Vision and Values of CBAmerica.  No one is too young or too old for the Gospel!

If you are interested in pursuing a ministry in chaplaincy, check out our website at www.cbamerica.org/chaplaincy for more stories from chaplains.  There you will see that our focus is Gospel ministry, “Beginning to the End!”

Finally, here is a link to the brochure of CBAmerica’s Director of Chaplaincy, “Ecclesiastical Endorsement: What it is, What it is not, How Long it takes.”

 

Chaplain for Life: Rev. Jim McMillan

 

Hospice ChaplainI recall an interview where Evangelist, Billy Graham was asked when he would retire.  The essence of his brief reply was, “Well, I don’t find the word ‘retirement’ in the Bible.”  As I write this, Rev. Graham is still actively reaching others for Christ well into his 90s.

So is Rev. Jim McMillan, CBAmerica chaplain, who retired from hospice ministry on April 30, 2014.  After moving to Florida, Chaplain Jim, like Rev. Graham, found that he couldn’t just sit around and “enjoy a well-earned retirement,” while people were dying and going to a Christ-less eternity. Instead, he looked around and found a new ministry he could pursue; serving as interim chaplain with Cornerstone Hospice.  Jim tried to use the new CBAmerica web-based electronic chaplain ministry report, but it wouldn’t work for him (Has that ever happened to you?).  Not to be deterred from reporting in, he printed his report, and mailed it the “old fashioned way.”  What Jim shared warmed my heart. “I had the privilege of baptizing a patient who had wanted baptism, but no one was available to do so.”  I understand Jim discovered that therapeutic whirlpools have a good secondary religious purpose.  “It was a God-appointment.”  Who better than a seasoned chaplain to recognize God’s hand!  ” I also was able to help a retired West Point grad reconnect with his faith shortly before his death.”  Jim’s words remind me of Romans 4:14: “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?”  Chaplain Jim inspires me.

He closed his ministry report requesting prayer for: “Continued opportunities as I serve as a spiritual care volunteer.”  Will you join me and pray for Chaplain Jim, and the dozen or so hospice chaplains ministering under CBAmerica?  Pray that they would be alert and available to the Spirit’s leading to hearts ready for the Gospel.

If you sense God’s call into professional or volunteer hospice chaplaincy, and would like information on how to secure an “Endorsement” for this or other chaplaincy ministries, click this link to CBAmerica’s Director of Chaplaincy for a brochure, “Ecclesiastical Endorsement: What it is, What it is not, How Long it takes.”  

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

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.