In the Shadow of Mount Fuji: Short tour in a beautiful spot

By Chaplain Donald Nelson, US Marines, Japan

Moving From the Mojave Desert to Camp Fuji Japan.

It was tough leaving behind the desert of 29 Palms* and my friends in Combat Logistics Battalion – 7.  I am excited about the journey ahead in Japan as an installation command chaplain.

My greatest blessing was hearing from a fellow officer at my farewell in 29 Palms. He shared how much I impacted his life spiritually. He talked about how he came to know the Lord this past year and how much I encouraged him on his journey. It was a great blessing to be part of his faith journey.

I thank God for the two Marines who accepted Christ and the two who recommitted their lives to Him.

Please Pray:

  • For my chapel services and my networking on base.
  • We try to do many activities with our host nation, from an English Summer Camp later in August to visiting Festivals, both put on by our base and the local community.
  • We have a great partnership with the USO who sponsors actives that we do.
  • Pray for relationships to be built and open doors for the Gospel to be presented.
  • Praying for my base that I serve that Marines and Sailors would feel open to come worship and take part in activities that we have at the chapel.

Six weeks later…

Chaplain Andy,

Good afternoon sir!  I am staying very busy here in Japan.  Here are a few pictures from various ministries that I already have done here.

When we served our community in August 2019 at the annual English Summer Camp,  we got on “” as the second featured story.  Our volunteer activity receives support from our Commanding Officer who encourages our service in the community.  The English summer camp is our biggest event of the year because of the partnership we have with a local school.  We help them have a real-world experience of “coming to America” through our base tour.  In addition, we build relationships with them through our games and service projects.

I climbed MT. Fuji back in July. It was exhausting but a great experience and helped test my endurance and hiking ability. Though a relatively small base, we stay busy engaging our local community, seeking to build positive relationships. We serve at an orphanage, local school, and various other places.


Join me in thanking God for this first-term Navy chaplain, Donnie Nelson who is more than keeping up with the young Marines he serves!  Pray for God’s wisdom in recognizing open doors of ministry into the hearts, minds and souls of his military flock.

For more stories by and about CBAmerica’s 200 chaplains, military and civilian, go to  For more information on chaplain endorsement, email Andy Meverden at

Notes: *29 Palms MCAGCC is the premier US Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center located between the Mojave Desert and Joshua Tree National Park in southern California.

Working on “Loose Ends:” Four things to say at life’s end

By Chaplain Gordon Ruddick, Hospital Chaplain

She was a lot like many older patients I have talked with at end of life. She said she was eighty-four and did not think she had much time to live now. Often such patients are quick to share their strong personal faith in God and their confident expectation of “going home to be with the Lord” when they die. And she indeed forcefully shared those words. Hers is a faith language I understand and speak fluently.  I offered to sing with her. We actually sang parts for a couple of classic songs, including the one most requested – “In the Garden.” 

This visit was very familiar to me up to this point. But then one question changed everything. She said, “How do I say goodbye to my children?” Now she had my attention. I thought for a moment before answering. We had moved from her own personal faith to her position as a parent. As a mother. And there in the room was one of her children, buried in a blanket, sitting back on the sofa cushion that had been acting as her bed. No words, no looks from her. No seeming interest in being included in this conversation. But she was there. And she was listening. Where would I be going with my answer to her question? I sensed a lot of hurt. It almost leaked out from underneath the blanket. Like a clammy puddle.

“Have you ever heard of the term closure?” was my choice for continuing our conversation. She had heard of it. We went on to discuss the concept of “tying up loose ends” that we all have with friends and relatives. In that way we can have a more comfortable death, knowing we have said and heard what was needed for us and those connected with us. She was interested in what this might include. I recalled a conversation I had recently had with a colleague regarding this exact subject. I remembered us talking about four things (if I remembered correctly!) that needed to be said before we die. Honestly, though, I was not sure I remembered the correct order. I decided that was not the most important thing in this conversation. And so I started as she quietly listened.

“I love you. . .please forgive me. . .I forgive you. . .good bye.” Not that quickly, of course. But those were the four things or subjects.  Turned out the first one was going to be hard for her. “I grew up in a (and then she mentioned a European country) home where we did not talk about emotions at all.”

“And so I am going to guess that you were not often told you were loved, nor were you comfortable saying that to your children as well, right?”

A tiny nod I almost could not see. But it was there. How sad, I thought, to be able to refer to our strong love and feelings for God and not for our own family. I could feel a palpable radiation of frustration and loss from the daughter. I did not need to look her way to confirm. We all three knew this to be a source of a great deal of hurt for both of them.  This was an awkward time for all three of us, I imagine. I am aware that many of this patient’s generation had gone without any kind of validation or affection, often for their entire relationship, or lack thereof, with their own parents. Nurturing was sadly often absent.

What would it help to hear those words now if they had not been spoken when they were so achingly needed at a younger age? I have heard first-hand the frustration of adult children who wondered why this had to happen at the death bed. WHY COULDN’T YOU TELL ME THAT BEFORE NOW?? But I also know hearing late is better than never hearing.

I knew some hard work needed to happen in that room that day. I would “leave the tools in the room” so they could hopefully, if awkwardly, make an attempt at using them. And if things went well they might break down and share some actual feelings and forgiveness. This was between them. I prayed for them before I left. When I stood up the daughter looked at me with a very intense gaze. I walked over to her and quietly said, “Can I give you a hug?” She stood up and received a tender embrace. There were tears present. I quietly whispered that the two of them had some important work to do. I asked for a commitment to attempt, knowing this was important for her. “Risk for your own sake.” She gave me a small nod and a thank you. I quietly left, praying silently on my way out.

How did that end? I do not know. I have not seen the patient again. She left the hospital for a facility the next day. My role as chaplain is varied. In this case it was pretty much “Emergency Intervener.” I can only suggest where their path might be. I cannot walk it for them. My prayer is that they were able to finally break the silence, bridge the gap, and find some measure of closure at the end of life.  Oh, and Lord, help me to remember to say what I need to say to the ones that need to hear it at times that it helps the most. I must start with me!   


Join me in thanking God for wise and willing chaplains like Gordon, who listen to the Spirit’s leading in the critical moments of hospital ministry.  While you’re at it, ask God to guide all our 200 CBAmerica chaplains – civilian and military – as they meet people today on the battlefield of life.

For more stories by and about chaplains ministering on the cutting edge, go to  For information on what it takes to be endorsed for chaplaincy, email Andy Meverden, Director of Chaplaincy at

Chaplain Keeps Doing the Same Thing: Sharing Jesus in Junior High, in the Army & on the Trail

By Chaplain Dennis Newton, Chaplain, Colonel, US Army Retired, Currently Trail Chaplain

This picture was taken of me last November by my Junior High School Running Buddy- Mark Woods. Mark has told me over the years of how our conversations while running in junior high and high school helped him come to know the Lord. I was just a dumb junior high school kid doing the same thing I did in the Army and now on the trail. Mark is now a Sunday School leader at his church in Temecula, CA. 


Today, Dennis, a retired Army chaplain, devotes time hiking America’s great long-distance trails; seeking hurting and lost souls.  Knowing that 15% of Thru-Hikers* are combat veterans seeking peace, he walks America’s Great Trails with open eyes and ears for opportunities to share Jesus, the Prince of Peace with anyone, especially Veterans.  Every now and then he finds one.


*Note: “Thru-Hikers” are those hikers who attempt to walk an entire trail. The Pacific Crest Trail shown here runs 2650 miles from the US border with Mexico all the way to Canada.

For more stories by and about CBAmerica’s 200 chaplains – civilian and military – visit our webpage at  To learn more about endorsement for chaplaincy, email Andy Meverden at

Honoring the Dead: Disabled Veterans Roll into Action on Memorial Day

By Bruce Kalish, Senior Chaplain, Grand Rapids Home for Veterans

Veterans are often identified by their disabilities, not their capabilities.  But, in Long-Term Care we encourage independence and advancement toward one’s fullest potential.  

On May 30th, 2019, this objective was achieved in a profound way.  The traditional Memorial Day is always a solemn commemoration at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans (GRHV).  A Patriotic program includes stirring music, food, a keynote speaker, reading the names of veterans who died at the home since the last Memorial Day, a tribute by the Blue and Gold Star Mothers, a three-volley rifle salute with Taps by the Kent County Veterans’ Honor Guard and a military color guard to post and retire the National, State and service flags.   In past years, these programs were provided for our veterans.  This year, our resident Veterans (we call them Members) were asked to serve in the program.

Prior to the program, we ordered silk wreaths for each branch of service.  Members in our Home’s woodshop created a pattern for each service logo and cut medallions to hang in the center of each wreath.  About thirty other members participated in the prelude of patriotic songs as part of our Home’s traveling chorale, the “Vet-Tones.”  Then, the ceremony was opened by the GRHV Member Color Guard posting the branch of service, State and National flags.  At the close of the ceremony, the same members retired the colors.

In the future we hope to develop adaptive harnesses to assist those in wheelchairs who carried the flags.  The precision, pace and polish of the active military from previous years may have been missing; but the empowerment, passion and pride evidenced in these standard-bearers stirred everyone’s emotions.

Chaplains “nurture the living, care for the wounded, and honor the dead.”  Memorial Day 2019 at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans fulfilled that ethos.

When Chaplain Kalish initially reported on this event, he casually mentioned the participation of wheelchair bound honor guard members.  Never having seen flags posted this way, I asked him to provide photos of the event.  I was so impacted by what I saw, I asked him to provide a narrative of the ceremony to share with our readers.

Join me in thanking God for Chaplain Bruce’s creative foresight to involve resident Veterans – all capable Members, even those confined to wheelchairs; in the ceremony.  Such integration of Veterans helps assuage the painful scars carried by “those who shall have borne the battle.”*

For more stories about CBAmerica chaplains go to  For information on endorsement for a wide variety of chaplain specialties, email Andy Meverden at

*Notes: This phrase is found in the last paragraph of Lincoln’s second inaugural address:

“With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow, and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”

WW2 Pilot Died That His Crew Might Live: Belated heroism recounted graveside

By Chaplain John Hatfield, Rhode Island Army National Guard

John 15:13 “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

These days it seems the word “hero” has lost some of its original uniqueness. We use it to  describe sports figures or media celebrities. This past quarter, however, I was blessed to officiate a graveside memorial service for a real hero. His name was 1LT John Crouchley from Providence Rhode Island. During the Second World War, 1LT Crouchley served as a pilot of a B-24 Bomber with the 828th Bombardment Squadron 485th Bombardment group – 15th Air Force out of Venosa, Italy.

In June of 1944, after completing a mission over Bulgaria, Crouchley’s Bomber was critically hit by attacking German planes. His bomber lost engines on one side and lost the function of the autopilot. All nine fellow crew members were able to bail out of the plane while Crouchley held the plane steady. Moments after the last crew members parachuted out, the bomber crashed on a remote hillside in Bulgaria. All nine crew became POWs but eventually returned home safely. This story of heroism only became known recently. While Crouchley’s wife and son were no longer living and never knew of his heroism, his grandchildren and many of the descendants of the nine crew members were on hand to pay tribute to this remarkable man.

In my funeral remarks I noted that biblical love involves more than just feelings. It primarily involves sacrifice – “laying down your life.” This sacrificial love was expressed through actions of 1LT Crouchley who died that others may live. I noted that this is the central message of the Christian faith – that Christ laid down His life that others may live.

The funeral gained some attention in small Rhode Island. By God’s grace the local news covered  the funeral and even quoted John 15:13 in their opening remarks on the evening news (see link below). In what some have found as one of the “least bible minded” states in the country, I was rejoicing that God’s Word was being proclaimed by the news. This man gave his life for his friends and was a true hero. May the LORD use his sacrifice to point others to the ultimate sacrifice and bring more into his heavenly kingdom.

Links to article and news story:  (No Greater Love)

For more stories by and about CBAmerica’s 200 chaplains – civilian and military – visit our webpage at  To learn more about endorsement for chaplaincy, email Andy Meverden at

A Blessed Season of Life: Retired Army Chaplain Reflects on New Hospice Ministry

By Mark Mitera, Chaplain, LTC, US Army, Retired – Current Hospice Chaplain

This season of life has been such a blessing for me as I serve as a hospice chaplain. My typical visits with a patient include having a conversation with them which includes their relationship with God, singing hymns and folk songs as I play my guitar, bible reading, and prayer. I meet many wonderful patients and family members and have found my ministry of encouragement to be very fulfilling.  I loved serving as an Army chaplain for many years, but I equally love serving as a hospice chaplain.

The following is a summary of the past 6 months:

  • Number of patients visited: 544
  • Avg visit time/patient: 55 minutes
  • Avg hours/day of patient contact: 4.49
  • Number of deaths: 89
  • Funerals conducted: 5
  • Bibles (Gospels) given away: 59
  • Church services conducted: 19

My wife, Annette, and I took a trip to Washington State to visit my kids and grandkids for a week. We had a wonderful visit; we had the grandkids at our motel for sleepovers on several nights. We came back worn out; but had a great time! They’re all talking about coming out to Ohio next summer to visit us!

I continue to preach every other week at small country United Methodist Churches in my area. The district office has called upon me to fill the pulpit, even though they know I’m a Baptist minister.  Attendance at each service usually ranges between 10-25 people, and I often play guitar at church as well.  I’ve been able to fill the pulpit at the same churches (usually 2 per Sunday) until they find a full-time preacher.  Since I have some consistency at the churches, I’ve been doing some expository preaching through the Gospel of Matthew.

Please pray:

1. For my daughter who is working on overcoming a drug problem. She has been sober for over 60 days, is back in church again, and is working on staying on track with her addiction program (counseling and small groups at an outpatient treatment program).

2. For my continued outreach to my hospice patients. I am currently seeing 81% of those on our census. Pray that they would come to know and love Christ as they face the end of life.

Join me in praying for Mark’s continued effective ministry to his hospice patients and their loved ones, thanking God for his encouraging musical gifts; and for his pulpit supply ministry to rural Athens Ohio churches.  May God continue to use Mark’s presence, words, music and preaching to proclaim the Gospel of the Kingdom to the living and dying – that includes us all!

For more stories by and about CBAmerica’s 200 chaplains – civilian and military – visit our webpage at  To learn more about endorsement for chaplaincy, email Andy Meverden at

Lead Climber Events: Chaplain ends up climbing the walls

By Chaplain Sean Callahan, US Army, Fort Brag, NC

One of my favorite pastimes is rock climbing. I not only enjoy the physical challenge of scaling the rock, but the mental challenge of analyzing the “problem” and deciphering the best sequence of hand and foot holds to ascend it. After rock climbing for years, I’ve learned that it is a very communal sport: people tend to congregate at the base of the wall, talk together, attack problems together, and climb together. Even before coming onto Active Duty, I would spend Friday afternoons at a local rock gym, making friends and sharing the gospel with the guys I frequently saw there.

Again, faced with the challenge of creating opportunities for connection and gospel sharing with my Paratroopers, the Lead Climber program was born. I found out that a local rock gym held “Military PT” hours, where, for a reduced rate they would open the gym from 0630-1200, provide equipment rentals, and offer a belay class. The gym isn’t open to the public at that time, so the entire facility is for the group that reserved it. I had a thought: what if I could take a group of Paratroopers off post for PT, smoke them on the rock wall, and then offer them breakfast and food for the soul?

In Lead Climbing, one climber sets the route and hammers in safety anchors, while another climber follows in tandem. They clip into the anchors set by the lead climber, and if one falls, they are caught and counterbalanced by the rope, the anchor, and their respective weight. The concept behind the “Lead Climber” event is that much like actual lead climbing, Christ is our spiritual lead climber. On every climb there is a crux: the move or sequence of moves that are the hardest part of the climb. For us, that crux is sin and death. We can’t overcome it. But when we trust in Christ as our Lead Climber, the only one who has ever successfully conquered that crux, we can move past the crux, finish the climb, and experience the blessing of a relationship with God. 

 As a voluntary “spiritual fitness” event, Paratroopers who sign up understand that though they will get access to the gym and free breakfast, they will also receive about a 10-minute evangelistic message about Christ. I try to address relevant issues that the Paratroopers face by connecting climbing stories to deep truths from Scripture (we have currently been using some OT narratives), which culminate in a very clear gospel presentation of how Christ is our answer.

The response to the program has been overwhelmingly positive, even from Paratroopers who are atheist, agnostic, or non-religious. I think what helps draw them together is the community-building that occurs by encouraging each other on the wall and tackling these difficult physical and mental problems. Many of them have never climbed before and get hooked. For others, they are meeting people outside of their immediate troop or company. And according to many, they are encouraged or challenged by the message. For me, the thread that ties it all together is the opportunity to build deeper relationships and invest in them with a clear gospel message. My prayer is that through these events, our Paratroopers will put their faith in Christ.

Join me in thanking God for creative outreach ministry by Chaplain Callahan and our other CBAmerica chaplains.  Pray for God’s Spirit to use the words and relationships to reach members of one of the largest “youth groups” in America! 

For more stories by and about CBAmerica chaplains, log onto  For information on endorsement for chaplaincy ministries, contact Andy Meverden, Director of Chaplaincy at

Wilderness Wandering: Divine Appointment on Pacific Crest Trail

By Chaplain Dennis Newton, Trail Chaplain

It was great being on the Pacific Crest Trail this year. Due to minor injuries (Knee, Back Spasms) I made a safety decision to only complete 109 miles. Over the last couple of months, I have come to understand that the actual issue wasn’t that I had to carry over 20 pounds of water in many areas, but that I am on a medication which causes dehydration. I was drinking more than twice as much water as others and it wasn’t enough. This was the real main cause. Being dehydrated in the desert isn’t a good thing. I want to share one of many conversations I had while being “on-trail.”

Meeting A Stressing Hiker at the Water Hole

Getting back on the trail at Lake Morega, I was just getting warmed up about a 1/4 mile from the State Park gate when I came upon a hiker sitting at a picnic table by the water spigot. I gave a nod and then decided I’d exchange trail info with him. This is very common with thru hikers. When you see another hiker, you stop to see what they know about the upcoming trail. At my initial, “How’s it going today?” He gave the honest and dejected comment that he was really struggling. He had developed some bad blisters and that he had brought a 70-pound pack over these first 20 miles. He knew he had to get rid of some weight and get some relief for his feet. I was carrying only 30 pounds with my water and food at this time but could relate because I was just getting back on the trail after a knee injury that had taken me off a month before. My knee was better now, and I was feeling very good.

So, I counseled him that he did need to exchange his old Army gear for something lighter. And that if he took a day off he would find his blisters would heal. We talked about the difficulty of the last 5 miles and that it catches those of us off guard who are not in the best trail shape. I thought that was about as far as our conversion was going when he said, “Chaplain, I’m out here because I’m having trouble sleeping and dealing with my time in Afghanistan.” I listened to him share his pain. I gave him some comfort by sharing that he is in the largest group of Thru Hikers- Veterans recovering from combat. This group is as high as 15% of Thru Hikers. I also told him about my time on the Appalachian Trail walking with the Warrior Expeditions Veterans who are all trying to recover from PTSD (Post-traumatic stress disorder).

We prayed together about his hike and that he would find peace in his pursuits. He also shared with me how he accepted Jesus when he was young and that he appreciated having me on the trail to talk with him right then. Apparently, God’s timing is just right. I heard from other hikers who had met him and had caught up with me that he was doing good in his hike and the blisters were getting better.

Being Trail Chaplain is much like being an Infantry Chaplain. You hike alongside the hikers, you carry your stuff, you do all the miles, but it puts you in the credible position of being there when they have a real need. Much like Jesus met the woman at the well, the conversations occur because we are where they are hiking and finding life is often not easy on the trail.

This year’s hike was much shorter than planned but I am blessed to have met these fine young people who are even now still making their way North toward Canada.

I also had a good trip to Trail Days in Damascus, VA where thousands of hikers have a reunion to encourage the current hikers on the Appalachian Trail. Met many old friends and as usual had many useful conversations.

Following Jesus’ Parable of the Lost Sheep, Chaplain Dennis Newton (USArmy, Retired) pursues lost, injured and wandering sheep on America’s great trails.  Recalling his earlier days as an Infantry chaplain, he identifies with Veterans and Warriors seeking peace following the horrors of war.  Pray for Dennis and his fellow CBAmerica chaplains who pursue those in need of the Good Shepherd.

For more stories by and about CBAmerica chaplains, go to  For information on endorsement for chaplaincy (military and civilian) email Andy Meverden, Director of Chaplaincy at

Chaplain Prays at Historic Change of Command & 25th Anniversary of USS John S. McCain

By Chaplain Jonathan Stephens, US Navy, Yokosuka, Japan

I was able to be a part of the USS John S. McCain 25th anniversary and Change of Command Ceremony; and, also a ceremony to award Sailors for their heroic actions during the collision that happened 2 years ago this August.

If you search the anniversary on the web – I can be seen in the back ground behind Cindy McCain and the other speakers as they speak.

Following is the link to the Ship’s 25th Anniversary and Change-of-Command Video:

Chaplain Stephens’ Invocation and Benediction can be viewed at 00:06:15 and 1.00:50 minutes respectively on the video.



Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet 

YOKOSUKA, Japan (July 02, 2019) – Cmdr. Ryan T. Easterday relieves Cmdr. Micah D. Murphy as commanding officer during a change of command ceremony aboard USS John S. McCain (DDG 56). Cindy H. McCain, wife of the late Sen. John S. McCain III and ship’s sponsor, were among the distinguished guests in attendance. The ceremony also commemorates the 25th anniversary of the ship’s commissioning. (U.S. Navy video/Released)

Video Program Events: (Hours:Minutes:Seconds)
00:06:15 – Chaplain Jonathan Stephens, Chaplain – Invocation

00:08:31 – Cmdr. Micah D. Murphy, Outgoing Commanding Officer
00:16:13 – Capt. Chase R. Sargeant, Thirteenth Commanding Officer (2013-2015)
00:22:01 – Capt. Jeffrey J. Kim, Tenth Commanding Officer (2009-2010)
00:27:40 – Capt. Jake K. Ross, Retired, Commissioning Commanding Officer (1994-1996)
00:37:26 – Mrs. Cindy H. McCain, Ship Sponsor
00:55:04 – Cmdr. Ryan T. Easterday, Incoming Commanding Officer

01:00:50 – Chaplain Jonathan Stephens, Chaplain – Benediction

For more stories by and about CBAmerica Chaplains, military and civilian, visit our webpage at .  For information on endorsement for chaplain positions in the US Navy or other military branches, contact Andy Meverden, Director of Chaplaincy at

Connections: How One Chaplain Connects with People

By Chaplain Randy Brandt, Senior Chaplain, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, WA

Easter Sunrise Service

It is amazing how the Lord brings connections our way. Last March at the CBNW Annual Enrichment Conference in Seaside, Oregon I met a pastor who attended Denver Seminary the same years I did. We connected with stories of faculty, friends, churches in the area; and shared history as to what led us here over the last 30 years.  It was a meaningful connection.

Fast-forward a couple weeks; this pastor calls and tells me he has a friend whose son-in-law was just sentenced to a 2-year incarceration at the military prison on JBLM.*  He asked whether he knew of anyone who could help.

Prayer Breakfast

My new pastor friend tells of just having shared a banquet with the senior chaplain at JBLM and that it was a God-thing connecting us at that time.

I made a point to go visit the young man.  He was on a spiritual journey, seeking answers and seeking God.  I had the privilege of leading him to the Lord during our visit – God had prepared everything and it all fell into place.  Praise the Lord!

Local Community Clergy Training Event

For more stories by and about CBAmerica chaplains, visit  For information on what it takes to be endorsed for a wide variety of chaplaincy ministries, email Andy Meverden, Director of Chaplaincy at

Join me in thanking God for chaplains like Randy, who, regardless of rank, never lose their love for the hurting and lost and assertively share the Gospel with those in need.  Pray for more “connections” for Randy and his fellow CBAmerica chaplains in military and civilian institutions across America and around the world.

Note:*  JBLM – Joint Base Lewis-McChord (the new amalgamation of Ft Lewis and McChord Air Force Base)