Persing Pioneer

by Phil Persing


2019 is now history!  Reflecting on the past year,  it’s difficult to imagine that God could have packed any more excitement into it for our family.  The year began with a much needed reunion, as Phil returned from his nine-month deployment to Iraq on January 14. 

We enjoyed a family getaway to Florida, then Phil took advantage of several professional Army training opportunities in the following months.  In March, he completed instructor certification to teach marriage enrichment seminars for Soldiers. We were able to lead two of these weekend events for our Regiment in San Antonio during the fall, providing marriage relationship training for over 70 Army families.  Phil also had the opportunity to attend Fort Hood’s rigorous Air Assault School in April, and Family Life Chaplain Training (pastoral counseling methodology) for two weeks in July.

It has also been a year of bountiful ministry in Pioneer Squadron.  Phil had over 170 counseling sessions with Troopers throughout the year, and these meetings yielded rich times of prayer, searching God’s word for truth and guidance, confession and repentance for sinful, unhealthy behavior, and the forging of God-honoring relationships throughout the Army family. Phil joined the squadron on several field training exercises throughout the year, culminating in a month-long return to the National Training Center in California’s Mojave Desert.

Phil leading a 9/11 Memorial Service

Our family also continues to participate and serve in Fort Hood’s “Chapel Next” community.  We have found incredible brothers and sisters in Christ among this chapel family, and are thankful to contribute to a community on post that prioritizes preaching Scripture and following Christ in a world of competing priorities.  Fort Hood’s AWANA has also been a huge part of our family ministry.  Beckie has reprised her role as Truth ‘n Training Director (grades 3-6), and Phil teaches the Bible lessons for this group.  Gabe has been fearlessly serving as a Sparks leader (K-2nd grade), with his younger brothers still participating as Clubbers.

Speaking of the boys, they have discovered the joys of youth athletics here at Ft. Hood.  Three of them (Jack, Hayden, Clark) played on soccer teams this past fall, and the four oldest all played their first season of basketball this winter.  There are no lack of opportunities here, but the challenge as most families know is trying to fit everything in.

In late summer, we received news about our next Army assignment: Phil was selected for the residential Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) program, which will begin in June 2020.  CPE is a four-year commitment: a one-year internship with an academic cohort at an Army Hospital, followed by a three-year utilization tour at either an Army medical facility or correctional facility. 

This assignment will bring different kinds of challenges, as it involves chaplains walking through some extremely difficult trials with other Service Members and their families.  It will also present new academic challenges and prospects– candidates in the program are provided the opportunity to earn their Doctor of Ministry degree while serving.  It is reassuring to know the God who has led us to this ministry in the Armed Forces will continue to equip us for His work.

Phil playing music at the Regiment’s Dining Facility on Thanksgiving

 In late December, we found out that the initial year of CPE will take place at Madigan Army Medical Center in Fort Lewis, Washington.  So, come this spring, the Persing family will bid farewell to Fort Hood and travel to make our next home in the Pacific Northwest.  The next several months will be a time of tremendous transition as we look for a new house and prepare Pioneer Squadron for its next chaplain after Phil’s departure.

The Whole Squad at AWANA

So, that’s a small taste of the adventures God has led the Persings on.  We love and thank God for you, and treasure your prayers in this New Year!          

With Trust in Him and Love for You,

                                                  The Persing Family

                                                                Phil, Beckie

                Gabe, Jack, Hayden, Clark, & Timothy

And we have confidence in the Lord about you… May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.”-2 Thessalonians 2:4-5


Unorthodox Thanksgiving

Ten-hour Pass during Ranger School

By Chaplain Sean Callahan, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, North Carolina


This year, Thanksgiving was quite unorthodox, both for our family and our ministry. I started  Ranger School in early November, and after receiving a “no-go” on patrols, received the news that I would be a Darby recycle for next cycle. What that meant for me and those in the same position, was that we would be in a holding status for the next three weeks until Holiday Block Leave, and then would be reinserted with the new January class. But this holding status wasn’t a walk in the park; we were restricted to the barracks, completed menial details every day, and passed the free time we did have reading or playing cards. We couldn’t leave Camp Rogers unless we received a pass, and thankfully the leadership gave the 125 “Ranger Prisoners” (as we liked to call ourselves), a 10-hour pass for Thanksgiving Day. Most of the guys didn’t have any family come down to visit, any means of transportation outside of taxis, or any place to go. My wife, Katie, and I hatched a plan.


We had been praying about how to serve in my current waiting period, and Katie decided that she would make the 7-hour (plus hours more of baby stops) drive with our 5-month-old to Columbus. She coordinated for a catering order from Cracker Barrel, received permission from the hotel to host the meal in the lobby, brought little decorations and festive table settings, and helped transport the Paratroopers. The guys were tasked with bringing drinks or their favorite desserts. Prior to starting the meal, I gave a devotion on Psalm 118 about being thankful in the waiting periods in life. We went around the table and expressing what we were thankful for, and then we all ate to our hearts content (which is a lot for a Ranger Student!). It was a fantastic time of fellowship and family, and one of the most treasured memories Katie and I have of our time in the 82nd.

I believe that is what God reminds us of in times of trial: that there are always things to be  thankful for, and sometimes the most beautiful pictures we receive of his character, love, grace, and provision come to us during times of failure, of great trial, or of waiting. While I didn’t want to recycle a phase of Ranger School and spend an extra month and a half away from family, I’m beginning to understand why God made it a part of my experience. The relationship building, opportunities to share (and live out) the gospel, and even hold bible studies have been plentiful. The perseverance through failure and reliance on God’s strength has been spiritually formative. The opportunities to share ministry with my family have been joyful and have brought us closer together and made me even more thankful for the wife the Lord has given me. The experience has been difficult and humbling, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything, because I have seen how God can use even the most difficult circumstances to do extraordinary things.

Join me in praying for God’s strength and protection for Chaplain Callahan, his wife, Katie and infant son during this two-month absence of rigorous Ranger training.  Pray also for the other military (105) and civilian (95) chaplains as they serve in unique ministry environments.

For more articles by and about CBAmerica chaplains, go to .  For information on endorsement, email Andy Meverden at

Where Do I Start?

From Local Church Ministry to Prison Chaplaincy

By Chaplain Joel Van Sant, Federal Bureau of Prisons

Where Do I Start?

This is the question that was in the front of my mind when the Lord began to lead me from local church ministry to prison chaplaincy. Where do I start? I knew that there would be many challenges but I was not prepared for the openness and transparency found in prison. For a while, I thought that prison chaplaincy was going to be a much more difficult ministry compared to local church ministry. To my surprise, while prison is definitely a different setting for ministry and has its own set of challenges, it is truly a plentiful harvest.

Over the past decade, I have been in leadership positions in three different churches. Each time I have entered a ministry, I have had to learn the culture of the community, figure out when to schedule ministries during the week, and grow into the role of leadership set before me. The latter always seemed to take the most amount time. While I was prepared to bring pastoral leadership to each congregation, I learned quickly that such a role takes time as people need to adjust to a change in leadership.

This is not always the case in prison chaplaincy. On my Sunday at Federal Correction Institution (FCI) Fort Dix, N.J., I was surprised to find a crowd of men at the door of the chapel, waiting to start their respective worship services. I attended the Protestant worship service that afternoon and could tell that these men had a desire to bring their best before the Lord in their worship. The inmate led worship team included men with professional instrumental and vocal backgrounds. It was so overwhelming to see how God was using men like this to bring people into His presence in worship. One of the other chaplains at the facility preached and encouraged the men to grow in their praise of the Lord. At the end of the service, I talked with many inmates who wanted to meet with me at some point during the week.

The following days provided me with so much insight as I adjusted to this new ministry. I was amazed to find many of these men at my office door during the week. They came and sat in my office and shared their entire story with me. They told me of their offenses and also shared about how God has been working in their lives to bring them closer to Him. A few of these men even talked to me about some of the goals and desires they had for further ministry in the prison.

Overall, this entire experience has brought me much closer to the Lord and has taught me so much more about how God continues to grow His kingdom. Every Sunday, when I preach, I can’t help but think of the words of 2 Timothy 2:9, “the Word of God is not bound!” I am continually grateful that God has placed me in a setting where hearts are longing for a relationship with God.


Join me in praying for Joel and his family as they settle into this challenging season of ministry within the Federal Prison system, as well as for CBAmerica’s fourteen (14) other chaplains serving in Federal, State and Local correctional systems.

For more articles by and about CBAmerica chaplains, go to .  For information on endorsement, email Andy Meverden at

On the Verge of Something Great

Army Chaplains launch new ministry outreach

By Chaplains Sean Callahan and Daniel Werho, US Army, Fort Bragg, NC

Our greatest blessing this quarter has been the new Verge service launched here at Fort Bragg. This ministry was a product of much labor, prayer, guidance by the Holy Spirit, and the leadership of fellow CBAmerica Chaplain Daniel Werho. In a nutshell, Verge is a new Wednesday evening gathering focused on reaching Soldiers in the barracks population, building community, investing in their spiritual growth, and empowering them to take the lead in the ministry.

The journey began last spring, when Daniel launched a working group with the intent of studying the Emerging Generation – the young generation emerging after the Millennials. A small team of Chaplains and retirees met regularly to conduct book studies, Scripture studies, and present on survey findings in order to discern the best way of reaching the young Soldier population on Fort Bragg. For every answer we thought we had, more questions emerged, and so the weekly meetings became a fluid process where the shape of the ministry changed and adapted. With the help of some key mentoring Chaplains, the team began to settle on the vision, mission, and values of a Christian worship service for Soldiers, by Soldiers.

 Central to the ministry effort are focus groups, which are essentially existing small group bible studies that commit to a 3-month process of studying a book on a relevant topic, studying the Scriptural answers to the questions that emerged, and then empowering young Soldiers to share their stories of learning and transformation during the service itself. The idea was that these groups would enable us to get bottom-up feedback as to what struggles young Soldiers are facing, and then we could shape our teaching to shed light on the biblical truths that answer their struggles. It also provides a unique venue for retirees and other “mentors” to build community with and disciple these young participants.

Daniel’s leadership has been essential to moving the initiative forward. It’s something new and different in the Army chapel life, and as with anything new, will meet with skepticism and unforeseen hurdles. However, support from Chaplain leadership across Fort Bragg has been superb, and we have received many helping hands along the way. Our launch night exceeded our expectations, and since the launch, Soldiers have truly taken ownership of the service. But probably the most rewarding part of this launch month has been the intentional interaction with these young Soldiers. Our goal is to listen to their stories and share the story of God’s transformational love in our own lives.

 In the end, our ministry will be missional. We hope to mobilize and equip young Soldiers to reach their peers. We want to have a presence in the barracks. We want to solidify a sense of community in a disconnected world. We want to come alongside of people in their brokenness, and help them see how Christ can lead to wholeness. This has been an incredible joy for the team and our families, because every single interaction on Wednesday night is with our target group. There is a single-mindedness in our effort, and every week we are looking closely to see where God is at work and who we can invest in.

As I shared last night during our “response night” that culminated our four-week series on Verge’s values, the ultimate point of ministry is to glorify God. It’s so easy to get caught up in worries over numbers, interest, or even how our performance (or lack thereof) looks to others. But, as Paul said in 1 Corinthians 1:27-29, “God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.”

Every time we have been overwhelmed by the enormity of the task, or worried how it would turn out, God has reminded us (and especially me) that he can take the least of what we think we have to offer and turn it into something that far surpasses our expectations. He does it this way so that when we look back on the process, we will see his fingerprints everywhere and give him glory for it…because it certainly wasn’t us.


Join me in thanking God for the Spirit-led initiative of Chaplain Daniel Werho and collaboration by Chaplain Sean Callahan and others to pursue the vision for this new ministry outreach to the barracks Soldiers of Fort Bragg, and potentially other US military installations.  Pray that word would spread, and that God would put interest in young Soldiers to come check out this new ministry experience. 

For more stories by and about CBAmerica chaplains, military and civilian, visit  To learn more about endorsement, email Andy Meverden, Director of Chaplaincy at

The Highs and the Lows

Chaplain Reflects on Blessings and Challenges

By Chaplain Roy Fondren, USN/USMC, Okinawa

Greatest blessing of quarter…

There are many; but I’ll zone in on one. As a former Marine Infantry Officer, being in the urban training areas/field is what we do!  And the ultimate auditor of a Marine’s fitness (Tactical, Physical, Emotional) is war!

And as a Chaplain, I recall Moses in Exodus 17 being overhead praying; interceding while his people were in battle below.  A few weeks ago, my Marines were in the field training and one Marine was sighting in a Machine Gun. With my “Sword” on me, I laid next to him and began praying over my Marines with my Bible Open… Unknowingly, a picture was taken, and it literally went “Viral” on Social Media.

For me, the glory of the matter is my Marines have heard me say time and time again the ultimate auditor of life on this side and the next is our Spiritual Fitness.  And for my Marines and the thousands that have seen and or shared the image, I pray they know 1) A Chaplain stands in the gap prayerfully, and 2) The God of this world has died and rose for them, and 3) They have been purposed for a heavenly existence.

It’s surreal to be a Chaplain. To be paid to do what I’d do for free…so that some may come to know Christ!  Please keep praying for Kingdom opportunities to avail. My son, Nate, recently pinned my Fleet Marine Forces Pin which was a TREMENDOUSLY emotional honor!  The kid is AMAZING!  He just shared Jesus with a female peer last night…the guy has a GREAT CALLING on his life!

Biggest challenge…prayer request: …the spirit of resilience.  I have been told twice in the last few months of rape/sexual assault within the ranks.  As one who doesn’t hide emotions well, I find myself frozen in anger… not as productive at initial onset.  I ask for the spirit of resilience and calm amid injustice.

Join me in praying for ministry opportunities like the ones described by Chaplain Fondren; for eyes to see and ears to detect the needs of the moment…and respond appropriately.  For more stories by and about CBAmerica’s 199 other chaplains, log on to  To learn more about what’s involved in endorsement for a wide variety of chaplain specialties, email Andy Meverden, director of chaplaincy at

Touching Letters…Touching Lives

Ministry’s light in life’s darkest moments

Subject: Touching Letters

Dear Chaplain Meverden,

Of all the thank-you letters I have received, this has touched me the most.  The family requested me to pray for their dying retired Naval Officer before the doctor/nurse unplugged the life support.

After I officiated a Memorial Service for one of our aviators who died at a mishap, I got this email from the Command.  These letters are a constant source of encouragement and inspire me to continue to give my best for God and for our country. 

Stay Blessed. Shalom! 😊


Johnny Cometa
Lt Cdr, CHC, US Navy

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

G’day Mate!

US Navy Chaplain Ministers Down Under

By Chaplain Ted Shields, US Navy, Australia

“G’day mate!,” was the greeting I received when I walked in the chapel tent at Tiger Hill. Tiger Hill was one of several bases that were established to support Talisman Sabre 2019. Talisman Saber involves joint exercises performed by more than 34,000 personnel participating from 18 counties, including Australia, United States, Canada, Japan and New Zealand. Talisman Sabre is Australia’s largest biannual joint military exercise.

Not knowing the extent of this exercise, I was under the impression I would be the only chaplain and my squadron would be the only ones present at Tiger Hill. Yet, when I arrived, I came to a base that had about 1200 military members from several countries. I located the established chapel tent and was greeted by one Australian Army Chaplain and, to my surprise, one Australian Salvation Army Officer in an Australian Army camouflaged uniform.  I found out that not only was I not the only chaplain on this base, but I was going to work with three Australian Army Chaplains, one Salvation Army Officer, one US Army Chaplain and a US Army Religious Affairs soldier. This was truly a Joint Operation.

I quickly learned that the Australian Chaplains do not refer to each other by their rank or title, but by each other’s first name. To the rest of the Australian Army, they are simply referred to as “Padre,” even though they are not Catholic. I had several opportunities to provide ministry with these chaplains. We had two Sunday services, two Wednesday Bible studies, daily mass provided by the US Army Catholic Chaplain and a nightly ecumenical evening prayer service.

Several times the senior Australian chaplain would invite me to join him to visit other bases to meet other Australian chaplains and Army Officers. During the exercise, I was honored to represent the US Navy during the annual anniversary memorial ceremony for the Canal Creek plane crash, which is the second worst air disaster in Australia that happened on 19 December 1943 and took the lives of 31 passengers that consisted of Australians and Americans.

One of the most interesting things about this exercise were the people and the environment. It was special to walk to where my Marines were working and see kangaroos hopping around.

One thing I was not prepared for was the cold at night. Our summer months are their winter months. There were several mornings where I woke up to frost on the ground and not being able to feel my fingers and toes because of the cold, not to mention living in tents with dirt floors and not environmental controls.

But the days were pleasant. The Australians were warm and welcoming. They always had a smile on their face and loved to speak to Americans. One thing I found particularly interesting is the fact that the Australian Salvation Army is actually integrated into the Australian Army. They are not chaplains and do not provide direct ministry in the form of services or counseling, but they are there in a philanthropic capacity and provide things like socks, food and drinks to the Australian soldiers.

The focus of ministry for me was primarily my Marines. Ministry consisted of ensuring there was hot coffee provided, making supply runs for them to Rockhampton once a week (a two hour drive away), visiting the spaces where they were working both day shift and night shift and several on the spot counseling. After the exercise was indexed, the Marines and I transitioned from Tiger Hill to a base in Rockhampton. There, I coordinated with another US Army Chaplain to provide a cultural enrichment opportunity for my Marines.

We visited an Aborigine culture center where we learned about the Aborigines, watched an aboriginal dance and had the opportunity to learn how to throw a boomerang. After the cultural center, we went to an animal sanctuary were there was an opportunity to interact with several local animals including feeding kangaroos, emus, lizards, snakes and peacocks. Other ministry provided was taking Marines off base into town to enjoy liberty during the day. I was given my own van and instructed by the Marine Officer In Charge to get the Marines off base to experience the culture. Doing this opened up several opportunities to engage in conversations about Marines’ faith and their spirituality.

Talisman Sabre was a great opportunity to engage with chaplains and people of other cultures and to engage with my own Marines as well.


Join me in praying for military chaplains who serve on every continent, on every ocean and time zone around the world.  For more stories by and about CBAmerica chaplains, civilian and military, visit our webpage at  For information on what it takes to be endorsed for chaplaincy, email Andy Meverden at

Those Four Words

Just like that, they were going to change my day

By Chaplain Gordon Ruddick, Hospital Chaplain, Springfield Oregon 

There I was, paying attention, at least fairly well, during what we call “discharge rounds.” Out of that mound of information can come hints, either directly or indirectly, letting me know who I might need to see today. But all that changed when those four words came blasting over the loud speaker : “Code Blue, Cath Lab!” Rounds suddenly became where I had been, not where I was going to be any longer. I piled my papers, excused myself, and moved out of the room. Quickly down the stairs one level to the third floor, two left turns, through a badged door, and I was in the cath lab hallway in the midst of a flurry of important people, looking for whoever was in charge.

I am the chaplain who works the cardiology floors, and so, whenever possible, I take any calls to the cath lab. It’s the area of the hospital that has my heart, you might say. The cath lab represents the possibility of life. And death. And who knows which one it will be? It is a place where mystery exists, where uncertainty is the only thing certain.

“You’re the chaplain” was the callout to me. My head nod affirmed that.  And so I was given the quick update, the family information, and taken back to the family waiting area to be with this concerned family. We moved to an inner waiting room. The one the dad had been in before. A room that had negative history for him.  Last time there somebody in his family had died.

The next two hours went by rather quickly. At one point in the process I had been able to go back to the actual lab and talk with a staff member, who provided a hopeful update for the concerned family. Sitting with, quietly watching, praying at their request. Just being there. That was my job at the moment. The doctor came in and gave a quick report. The situation was better now. Hopeful. Stents had been placed, blood flow was restored, and the patient was out of immediate danger. She had almost died. But not this time, at least. We could breathe words of thank you.   

I took this numerically growing group up a floor to the ICU waiting area, which was where the patient was heading. I got them settled and assured them I would be back soon to check on them, right after I did some self-care, which I also encouraged them to consider.

Just as my lunch was about to go into the microwave four similar words blared overhead: “Code Blue, Surgical ICU!” Different location, same effect. Lunch could wait. I just knew this was the same case and I needed to be there.

I was right. I quickly entered the ICU and asked which room was involved. It was hers. She had coded on the way to ICU. Her heart had stopped and they were performing chest compressions. Lots and lots of activity. Everyone doing their jobs well. The danger we thought had passed was more present than ever.  Nobody in that room was thinking about lunch right now.

The doctor in charge was orchestrating the situation well. I watched for a few minutes. No progress yet. I caught her eye and asked if I could bring family in. She looked at me and said, “Two. That’s it. Stay right with them.” I moved quickly to the waiting area and connected with dad and sister. I informed them of the situation and brought them back. We stationed ourselves just outside the room and observed the attempt to save the life of this thirty five year old mother of two young children. Observing active CPR is jarring the first time one sees it. I had my left hand on dad’s shoulder as he looked on and my other arm wrapped around the patient’s  younger sister, who had pulled in close under my wing and was quietly pleading, “No, Jesus, not today. This is not the day! This is not the day. You need to fight, sis. You need to fight. I can’t do this right now.” I stood by quietly providing a safe place for her to plead.

One more attempt was made, one more test, and then the moment arrived when the doctor had to inform us that her heart had no remaining function. The battle was over. The attempts stopped. The monitor went silent. And I held them in the swirling sea of tears and attempts by staff to console. 

A while later, after sitting and talking with the sister about what had happened and what might be coming, I heard a phrase from her that I will not forget. She thanked me. That’s not unusual. But what she thanked me for was what I had not heard before. “Thank you for holding me while I snotted on your shirt!” I just chuckled and said, “No problem. It’s just a shirt.”  A bit later the realization came to me: I’ve got another shirt. She doesn’t have another sister.” It puts things in perspective.

As a chaplain, I really cannot often be the “answer man” for people, because often there are no answers to the questions they are asking, or at least ones I have access to. And it’s not really what she needed, anyway. Maybe what I can be is best described as “anchor man.” In a swirling world, full of fear and frustration, I need to stay firmly planted.  Mouth shut, heart open. Maybe a few tears leaking out. Just being. Calm in the midst of chaos. Love in the horror of loss.


Join me in thanking God for kind, compassionate hospital chaplains like Gordon who daily respond to people in crisis in Emergency Departments (ED/ER), Intensive Care Units (ICU/CCU), Birthing Centers and Hospice settings across America.  He is one of 28 hospital and 14 hospice chaplains endorsed by CBAmerica.  Pray for the Spirit’s direction in assessing and responding with Christ’s compassion and direction in each situation.

For more stories by and about CBAmerica chaplains, go to our webpage at  To request a brochure on chaplaincy or what it takes to be endorsed as a chaplaincy, contact Andy Meverden, at

Uncle Sam Wants You…. to Pray about becoming a Chaplain!

So does the Lord Jesus;

37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

Just in from the Office of the Army Chief of Chaplains; 4 October 2019

Endorsing Agencies,

Thank you for the heavy lift last year for the Army Chaplain Corps.  Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 was the largest year for accessions in the Chaplain Corps in over twelve years.  You provided a myriad of ministers to answer the call to serve God and country!

FY 2020 will be even larger.  But with hard work from all involved, we will continue to provide Chaplains to meet the needs of the Army.  And we will close vacancies across the Army that have not been filled in numerous years.

CH (MAJ) Chris Wallace
Accessions Officer


Uncle Sam also needs chaplains in the Air Force, Navy (Marines & Coast Guard), active duty, reserve and National Guard.  Other Federal agencies seeking qualified and endorsed fulltime chaplains include the Veterans Health Administration, Federal Bureau of Prisons; with volunteer positions in local FBI field offices.

At the State and local levels are another group of agencies seeking chaplains, full, part-time pastors who sense a call to medical centers, hospitals and hospice ministry.  Many local communities seek pastors to volunteer as first responder chaplains with law enforcement, firefighters and EMS.  Specialized volunteer chaplains walk America’s Great Trails seeking wounded warriors, ride motorcycles, minister to Veterans and other creative ministry venues.

For information on what it takes to be endorsed as a chaplain, contact Andy Meverden at

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.