Chaplains at War: Training Ukrainian Volunteer Chaplains

By Chaplain Randy Brandt, US Army, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, WA, and Andy Meverden

 

Director of Chaplaincy, Andy Meverden, writes: “War is hell on earth. The human cost includes not only the physical injury, and death of combatants, but also the lingering impact of its related emotional and spiritual trauma on returning warfighters, their families and loved ones. The current conflict between Russia and the Ukraine is producing many shattered lives, on the front lines and back at home. Part of the support the US provides our Ukrainian allies includes semi-official and volunteer training of chaplains. Once again, I was surprised by the recent report of one of our senior chaplains.”

Chaplain Brandt reports:

“I had the privilege of being the guest speaker for a group of 9 Ukrainian Military Chaplains back in August. What a joy it was to meet with and encourage these men, all of whom are volunteers (not paid military chaplains like we have in our Army) who choose to go to the front lines and serve the Soldiers on the battlefield because of a calling from God and a love of the Lord that compels them.

One of the guys was a Spetsnaz* soldier who fought in Afghanistan for the Russians and then became a special operations helicopter pilot prior to coming to the Lord and giving that all up to do the work of the ministry for the Lord in Ukraine. I heard lots of neat stories of service and sacrifice – some painful stories as well. Some of these men have lost family members during the invasion by Russian backed separatists in Donbas and Luhansk.

We had great fellowship and a chance to share testimonies of the great things God was doing in our lives and then I had the privilege to talk to them (through an interpreter) about Moral Injury and how the Local Ukrainian Churches can support and minister to the Soldiers and their families as they come back from war. We were hosted by a Ukrainian Christian Church and community near Seattle and were able to break bread with a traditional Ukrainian meal before coming back to JBLM (Joint Base Lewis-McChord) and providing a guided tour of our base museum and chapels.”

Chaplain Brandt asks prayer for:

  • Our daughters, Sarah and Rebecca are both needing to raise more support for their missionary endeavors.
  • Julie has had some on-going health issues.
  • I am starting up a new Bible study for our building here at JBLM; several hundred people work in this building and I’m hoping to touch a few.

 

Andy Meverden adds:

“Prior to the end of the age, Jesus said there would be many precursor signs, including “wars and rumors of wars” (Matthew 24:6). No matter what is going on around us, our mission is the same, and that mission is what Jesus says is a reliable predictor of the end times, “And this Gospel of the Kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14).

Join me in praying for the Brandt family concerns and ministry, including continued, effective Gospel ministry by Chaplain Brandt, and our other 195 chaplains, military and civilian. Pray especially for those military chaplains deployed in support of combat operations in various locations, along with these volunteer Ukrainian chaplains sent by their local churches to minister on their front lines of conflict.”

 

Director’s Note: *Spetsnaz is an umbrella term for special forces in Russian.

For more stories of and by CBAmerica chaplains serving across the US and around the world, got to www.cbameria.org/chaplaincy. For an informational brochure on endorsement for chaplaincy under CBAmerica, contact Andy Meverden, Director of Chaplaincy at chapandy@cbamerica.org.

Baptizing Chapel Community Members in World’s Biggest Baptistry

By Chaplain Chester Olson, Wheeler Army Airfield, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii

 

Baptizing and Teaching:

April 8th, 2018, on the North Shore of Oahu, we baptized 6 members from our Wheeler chapel community. Prior to the baptism, I taught 5 weeks of pre-baptism classes for the candidates. We had a great time learning about salvation, our commitment to serve Christ and the importance of baptism.

Military life can be challenging for both service members and their families. The chapel community offers a place to call home while developing a deeper commitment to Christ as a family. All those that were baptized in April were family members of Active Duty Soldiers.

 

Learning and Teaching:

Thank you for your prayers!

The kids love their new school and my wife, Nami, is doing well.

I go to class four days a week and read on average 100 pages per day. School is challenging and fast-paced. I appreciate prayer that I will keep up with my work, understand the content, and do well. My area of study is Religion and Culture.  I do not have to complete a thesis.  It was optional, and I opted for two extra classes rather than the thesis.

Princeton is beautiful, and we are enjoying the new community. I should find out in December about my follow-on assignment.  I will either be teaching at the Defense Language Institute at the Presidio of Monterey, California or Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

 

Director’s Note: Chaplain Olson is one of four CBAmerica chaplains in 2018 who was selected for promotion and advanced schooling in the Army Continuing Education System.  Following completion of this graduate program, he will be assigned as a subject matter expert (SME) at an Army educational institution.  Pray for Chester and Nami as they take time to “sharpen the axe” in preparation for future ministry opportunities.

For more stories by and about CBAmerica chaplains, go to www.cbamerica.org/chaplaincy.  To receive a copy of our general and endorsement brochures, contact Chaplain Andy Meverden at chapandy@cbamerica.org.

Ministry to Midshipmen: Baptizing in the Severn

By Chaplain Jon Uyboco, US Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland, Intro by Andy Meverden

Chaplains are generally a humble lot.  Occasionally I stumble onto hints of effective ministry and probe a bit deeper and find exciting results.  Completing his first-year ministry report as a battalion chaplain at the US Naval Academy, chaplain Jon Uyboco casually listed leading a contemporary Sunday night service and thirteen baptisms. I dug deeper and this is what I found:

“The Sunday night service is great, and I do bring my family to it. It is one of the few opportunities they have to be a part of what I am doing.  You are completely right about the impact that their presence has on the Mids.  So many of the Midshipmen love seeing and interacting with my four kids.

I’ve been able to participate in three baptisms this year – one was in May before graduation and commissioning, a second was during Plebe Summer Parent’s Weekend, and the third was in September after the start of the Academic Year.  In each situation it was great to be able to hear testimonies of God’s work in the lives of the Midshipmen.  It is an honor to be able to play a part in their spiritual journey at the Naval Academy.  I like to conduct my baptisms in the Severn River. Often, graduates refer to their time at the Naval Academy as “Four years by the Severn,” so it is a very meaningful location for them.  I know that they will always remember being baptized there, and I pray that it will anchor their faith and hope in Christ throughout the challenges they will face in life.

Here’s a bit of Naval Academy Tradition:

The Plebes* are required to memorize many different rates (the trivia/slogans that the plebes are required to memorize) during Plebe Summer.  One of them is a response to the question, “How long have you been in the Navy?” Their response begins with the words, “All me bloomin’ life, sir!  Me mother was a mermaid, me father was King Neptune.  I was born on the crest of a wave and rocked in the cradle of the deep…”

After the baptism, we were all walking back to Bancroft Hall together, and the plebes added another phrase to this answer, “… and baptized in the Severn!” It was a fun time for everyone, and I was happy that they were able to share that moment with their parents.  Of course, I was most excited about the baptism last May when I was also able to baptize my son, Kai. The pictures that I have included are from that baptism.”

Pray for Jonathan and Suzanna (and four children) as they minister to future leadership of the US Navy. Pray for continued impact of Bible Studies, discipleship, contemporary worship and chaplain duties with the Midshipmen football team.

For more stories about and by CBAmerica chaplains link to www.cbamerica.org/chaplaincy.  For information on endorsement in a wide variety of chaplain specialties (military and civilian), email Andy Meverden, Director of Chaplaincy at chapandy@cbamerica.org.

*Note: “Plebe: a newly entered cadet or freshman, especially at a military academy.”

We Won’t be Home for Christmas: Call for Prayer

By Chaplain Phil Persing, USArmy Middle East, with Andy Meverden

Director of Chaplaincy Andy Meverden writes:

Phil Persing is CBAmerica’s newest active duty Army chaplain. His unit has been fighting the good fight in the Middle East.  The commander valued Phil’s ministry so much that he’s keeping him with the main body till the end. That means he’ll miss the upcoming holidays.  Join me in praying for Phil, his Family, his Soldiers, and their Families who won’t be home for Christmas, this year.

Phil shares some of his greatest blessings:

  • Providing care to deployed Soldiers through counseling has been an unparalleled blessing.
  • Many in my unit are on their first deployment (including myself) and are experiencing the unique challenges that come with it.
  • Many Soldiers have encouraged me by sharing that my willingness to sit with them and provide guidance has made a significant difference in their ability to adapt and thrive.
  • One Soldier recently told me, “If you are ever doubting your value as a chaplain, let me assure you that you have helped me more than I ever thought possible.” All I could say in response was, “Praise God.”
  • I am thankful that His hand is at work in my ministry and that He is encouraging me with comments like that.

Phil adds some important prayer concerns:

  • Please pray that my wife Beckie and five boys would continue to courageously trust God and find His joy for the remainder of the deployment.
  • We anticipate that spending the holidays apart will be very challenging, and all the Soldiers in my unit are in the same situation.
  • Thank God for our safety and pray for continued health and safety, salvation of souls, and victory over sin among those in my unit.
  • Beckie and I would also appreciate prayers that God would mercifully provide a buyer for our home in Pennsylvania (it’s been on the market a long time).

Phil’s quarterly ministry summary depicts an intentional, focused, broad, and responsive ministry: Worship services: 13, Bible studies: 14, Crisis interventions: 12, Rededications: 5

“Last month I led the invocation at opening ceremonies for the Air Force birthday. They presented me a certificate of appreciation for supporting them (I am the only Chaplain in our area which has Army, Navy and Air Force presence).  The photo features me with the local AF Commander.”

“On September 11 we organized a 24-hour continuous run with the U.S. Colors, with individuals trading off in half-hour shifts. Attached is a photo of me running with the American flag on my shift. I also hosted a ceremony for Patriot Day that morning.”

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Chaplain Persing is one of 195 chaplains currently endorsed by CBAmerica. A short while ago, he responded to God’s call to serve the Soldiers, Civilians and their Families as their chaplain. His wife, Beckie, and their five young sons eagerly await their husband and father’s safe return home.  Will you pray for them as they serve God and Country every day?

For more stories of and by chaplains, go to www.cbamerica.org/chaplaincy.  For information on what it takes to be endorsed as chaplain, military or civilian, email Andy Meverden at chapandy@cbamerica.org.

 

Care Package Thank You from the Middle East!

By Chaplain Dan Rice, US Army

Sir, [Chaplain Andy Meverden]

I apologize for the delay. With the many different computers and redeploying and deploying again, I can only find these 2 photos.  In our work area, we were not allowed to have personal phones or cameras, so we must get a unit photographer to take pictures as we coordinated for them.

Please let our supporters know that their care packages arrived safely in Kuwait and though some were used by our unit personnel located there, most of them we forwarded on to Iraq and Syria where living conditions were harder. Our service members in Iraq and Syria do not have all the comforts that we had in Kuwait.

The donors who so lovingly took time and energy to send us packages should know that their gifts were a blessing to so many. They were God’s hands reaching out in love toward our service members who are far from home and family.  I was totally blown away by how much was sent in Jesus’ name.  Thank you and please thank them for us.

Respectfully,

CH (LTC) Dan Rice
CJTF-OIR Chaplain Section
III Corps Deputy Command Chaplain

Chaplain Andy writes:  One of the best ways to send Care Packages to forward-deployed servicemembers is through chaplains.  Little did we know that these would end up literally on the front lines of battle.  In such situations, the troops are provided with MREs and water.  It’s like Christmas, when a Care Package filled with “lickys and chewys” shows up!  Finally knowing the background, we can understand the delayed response.  For other ministry and Care Package reports go to http://cbamerica.org/category/chaplaincy/. For information on endorsement for military and civilian chaplaincy, contact Andy Meverden at chapandy@cbamerica.org.

Battle Field Circulation: First Deployment Update

By Ryan Luchau, Chaplain
Montana Army National Guard, Afghanistan

Good Day All,

Just want to send a quick update while I have a few minutes waiting to get onto a bird that will take us to our next location to visit our Soldiers.  This is essentially our ministry, getting to travel to eight small remote bases throughout Afghanistan to meet and offer Religious Support to our Soldiers.

We are wrapping up our second round of “BFC” or Battle Field Circulation.  Some of our visits are welcomed and some we are there for a quick visit to gauge morale and then are gone.  I often find myself considering the life and times of Paul as he traveled and was building the Church, knowing he was not always welcomed and in opposition.

I am connecting with 30 of my Soldiers daily with encouraging words through Facebook Messenger and we are bringing snacks and hygiene items to our Montana Soldiers as we travel.  We also just started the small group study “Case for Christ” with six Soldiers at our home base, which has been wonderful for all of us.  We just recently surpassed the 25% mark in the deployment which is hard to believe, and as we move forward I trust more hearts will turn towards Christ through relational ministry.

I will leave this correspondence with some prayer requests. Thank you for your time, love and prayer. I think of my family and our support often and thank you tremendously for your contribution to my journey.

Prayer Requests:
–For visits to see Soldiers to be fruitful and glorifying to God.

–For the Bible Studies and growth amongst some Soldiers who were not Christian prior to this deployment to continue.

–For my continued growth and development. My greatest request to God in this journey has been for Him to place strong Christian men in my path to help me grow and He has done nothing short of this…and tenfold.

–For my spiritual gifts to continue to be utilized.

–For Angie and our kids. Being a “single parent” is proving to build character for all of them.

–And last, for our Soldiers and my connection with them to prosper. Some are experiencing challenges at home.  Because we are scattered, we have been limited with the ability to counsel and encourage promptly, yet at the same time, we have learned how to be resourceful to support immediate needs.

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Director of Chaplaincy, Andy Meverden adds: “Though written to me and a few others, Ryan’s update and insight informs and encourages us all. Quietly, there’s been an uptick in the number of our chaplains deployed away from their families; many into harm’s way.  Join me in praying for Ryan, his family, and the other 195 CBAmerica chaplains and their families scattered across the US and around the world.”

For more stories of and about chaplains, log onto www.cbamerica.org/chaplaincy. For more information about chaplaincy, or to request a brochure, email Andy at chapandy@cbamerica.org.

 

Navy Chaplain Reflects on First Year with the Marines

By Chaplain Donald Nelson,
US Navy, 29 Palms Marine Corps Training Base

Hello from 29 Palms, California!

Over the past year I have served my first duty station as a Navy chaplain in Combat Logistics Battalion 7 (CLB7) at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twenty-Nine Palms, California.

Life in the desert can be challenging at times because of the distance from city life. The challenges are the extreme heat, being off the grid and far from urban amenities. The desert does have its perks, such as great hiking, beautiful sunsets and sunrises, and the best nighttime view of the stars.

Training is the lifeblood of a Logistics Battalion. We are often in a supporting role to other units who come to train at our base. Serving and connecting with Marines and Sailors happens in a variety of ways; whether that be in the field or through “deck plate” (i.e. workplace) ministry.

Those relationships have strengthened my resiliency and challenged me physically.  Spiritually, God has been working on me and allowing me to experience the joys of serving the Marines and Sailors who God has placed in my path.  Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.  And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers (1 John 3:16).  I often remember this text when a challenge presents itself.  My RP (Religious Program Specialist/Navy Chaplain Assistant) often says, “this is good training.”  I have often borrowed this quote from him.

In trials and in times of celebrations I have been trying to cultivate a heart of gratitude.  This has helped me stay motivated.  Thanking God for those things we take for granted keeps me dependent on him, and my attitude upbeat. Marines and Sailors need a voice of encouragement.  As John Maxwell says, “Encouragement is oxygen for the Soul.”  This has been the greatest blessing; to add encouragement to the Marines and Sailors I support.

I pray God will continue to make me  a source of support and blessing to CLB7.  Pray for me, my Marines, and Sailors to grow in unity as a Battalion, and to be resiliently strong as we face the challenges that God puts in our path.

Praying with David, “May the Lord give strength to his people! May the Lord bless his people with peace!”

Donald Nelson
Battalion Chaplain USN
August 2018

 

Andy Meverden, Director of Chaplaincy adds: “The Navy provides chaplains for the Navy, Marine Corps, and US Coast Guard; thus a Navy chaplain potentially can serve tours in all three branches of the “sea services,” each with their own unique culture. Donald Nelson is the newest of sixteen CBAmerica Navy chaplains.  Join me in thanking God for a productive first year, remembering his prayer concerns shared above.”

For more stories by and about CBAmerica’s 195 chaplains, military and civilian, visit our website at www.cbamerica.org/chaplaincy. For information on chaplain endorsement, contact me at chapandy@cbamerica.org.

 

Caught in the Act: Coast Guard Auxiliary Chaplain Recognized for Effective Ministry

By Andy Meverden, Director of Chaplaincy

The US Coast Guard Auxiliary Clergy Support (ACS) volunteer program provides sanctioned ministry by endorsed local pastors to our Nation’s Coast Guard personnel at stations and bases along the coasts and navigable US inland waterways (Great Lakes & major riverways).

One of the pioneers of this recently formalized ministry, Pastor Michael Barnard, of North Bend, Oregon, was recently recognized for his faithful and effective ministry. The citation reads:

“Flotilla 51, member, Mike Barnard, is recognized for his Auxiliary Clergy Support (AUXCS) activities in Coast Guard Sector North Bend. In support of two District 13 active duty chaplains, he regularly visits most of the Sector’s 10 Coast Guard stations along 217 miles of the Southern Oregon coast to serve Coast Guard personnel and their families.   Most recently, Mike participated in the change of command ceremony for the Sector North Bend Commander where he gave both the Invocation and Benediction. In addition to his Auxiliary duties, Mike is a full-time pastor for a church in North Bend. Despite his busy schedule, he plans to continue his duties in service to the Sector’s Coast Guard personnel and their families for the foreseeable future.”

Mike is a US Army Veteran. He and his young wife, Cheryl, experienced the loneliness and isolation young military couples often feel. A local pastor reached out and brought them into his “flock,” showing the love of Christ. Decades later, they recall the impact of that local pastor, and now reach out to the Coast Guard men and women of the Southern Oregon Coast. It may have seemed like their untold miles and hours of volunteer ministry went unnoticed, but such was not the case.

Hesitant to share this accolade, he forwarded this experience in hopes that other pastors with churches near Coast Guard installations might consider joining their local USCG Auxiliary and apply for the ACS program.

Join me in snapping a “Salute” to Mike and Cheryl for their dedicated efforts in support of America’s “Lifesavers!”

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The Coast Guard is seeking ordained pastors with undergraduate and seminary training to serve as volunteer auxiliary clergy support (ACS) “chaplains.” Prior military experience is helpful, but not required. Churches near Coast Guard installations along both coasts, the Great Lakes, and major inland waterways, make good church homes for Guardsmen and their families.

Like other federal chaplaincies, endorsement by an ecclesiastical agency is required. CBAmerica Chaplaincy is authorized to endorse pastors for the US Coast Guard. Contact Chaplain Andy Meverden at chapandy@cbamerica.org. Visit www.cbamerica.org/chaplaincy for more stories by and about chaplaincy ministries.

 

 

 

Mission Possible: Chaplain’s wife helps husband achieve the seemingly impossible

By Pastor/Chaplain John Hatfield, Rhode Island Army National Guard

“From whom (Christ) the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.” Ephesians 4:16

Last January, I experienced the blessing of being “edified” by my loving wife. It did not occur in a crisis or surrounded by drama. Simply, during a stressful time, my wife showed the love of Christ to me that not only got me through a tough time but also gave me a great personal example I have used to build up others.

In January, I had numerous obligations to meet and was feeling overwhelmed. I developed a plan and looked forward to implementing it. Part of the plan was to complete phase 1 of the Army Chaplains Captain Career Course (C4) online. Upon examining the number of assignments to be done in only two months I became overwhelmed and didn’t think it would be possible to complete it.

Thankfully, the Lord has supplied His church with “parts” that work perfectly together. At just the time when I was feeling perplexed, my wife was there to supply what I was lacking – a detailed plan. She supplied, not just with a word of encouragement, but an Excel spreadsheet that gave me the day and time I needed to complete every assignment.

It was the precision in which even “days off” were assigned as well as time for sermon preparation. It included all kinds of details. What was once an insurmountable obstacle was now divided into manageable parts.

As it turned out, I followed the schedule and not only completed the course but received a blessing of great value. Her care and creativity have given me a great illustration to share with others. The Lord graciously provided what I needed at just the right time, and because I experienced this myself I can teach it to others with humility and understanding. Praise the LORD!

Prayer Concern: Since I have been transferred to a new unit, please pray for relationship building opportunities.

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Director’s Note: It takes large doses of focus, commitment, and time management to pastor a church and serve as a Reserve Component chaplain. In addition to monthly training periods, and two-weeks Annual Training, there are occasional emergency calls and additional online training requirements. A recent report documents the current “strength” of Army Guard chaplains at 84%, or a vacancy of 130 chaplains. It’s the same for Air Force and Navy Reserve.

For those interested in learning more about requirements for endorsement in the reserve military components, contact Andy Meverden at chapandy@cbamerica.org.

One Chaplain’s Path: Reflections from a New Active Duty Army Chaplain

By Chaplain Sean Callahan, Fort Bragg, North Carolina

Sometimes the greatest work God does in a given season is His work on our own hearts. This quarter has been one of great transition, but it has been permeated by God’s awesome work in our lives. Unexpectedly, God called my wife and I to Active Duty Chaplaincy.

The burden was really laid upon our hearts while deployed to Kuwait and Afghanistan, where I was immersed in an operational environment that created numerous opportunities for ministry and the advancement of God’s kingdom.

Something fit: although it was tough work, much joy accompanied the privilege of being a full-time unit Chaplain. The more we prayed about it, the more we felt God alleviating our fears and confirming His direction.

He even saw fit to surround us with some great Chaplain senior leadership, one of whom was our CBA-own: CH (LTC) Dan Rice. His heart for the Lord, mentorship, and example were an encouragement on our journey: God could do some incredible things through those who remain faithful to him…at any rank or place in life.

I was boarded for the Active Component shortly after redeployment. It was a long journey, one fraught with many headaches and little discouragements, but we had long ago decided to commit it entirely into God’s hands. I found myself often praying, “Lord, if you really are calling us to this, then you are going to have to make something happen here; I can’t do any more on my own.”

In February we were selected, and by April had received notification of our first assignment: the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg. Again, we were on our knees before the Lord, laying hold of the grace we knew He would provide in such a fast-paced, drinking-from-a-firehose kind of unit.

Ministry in the Army Reserve remained busy. There aren’t any immediate replacements, especially in a region like the Northeast, and so I continued to walk with my Reserve unit through many counseling opportunities, changes-of-command, and a post-deployment suicide that rocked one of our companies.

To this day I am still fielding a few phone calls, but those calls have led to numerous opportunities to share the Gospel. I figure that those are the remaining, low-hanging fruit from the long tenure God blessed me with in that unit, and as long as I feel like he is burdening my heart to be involved (and at least until they have another Chaplain), I won’t quite pack away the Reserve hat.

After all, these Soldiers are reaching out to the Army because they have nowhere else to go, and no one else to turn to. What better opening than this to point them to the One who can give them true, lasting hope?

We are thankful. We are thankful to the Lord for His wisdom and direction, even though it shook up our lives and ministry, quite a bit.

We are thankful to the Lord for the opportunity, because it truly is a joy to be with these Paratroopers daily.

We are thankful to the Lord for His daily grace and steadfast love, because each day we are in desperate need of it!

We are thankful to the Lord for continuing to mold and shape us, and we are excited to see what He does next in our lives, and the lives of these Paratroopers!

 

Please pray for:

  • Open hearts and minds in our Paratroopers
  • Wisdom and guidance for where Katie will plug into the ministry in the unit and on Fort Bragg
  • Safety and health as I begin to jump [from perfectly good airplanes] again
  • Our chapel community to catch the “Kingdom Vision” and mobilize to make Christ known

 

Director of Chaplaincy, Andy Meverden, writes: “Join me in praying for Sean and Katie as they integrate into life and ministry with the US Military’s only Airborne Division. They join four other CBAmerica Chaplain families assigned to Fort Bragg.”

For more stories about and by chaplains, military and civilian, go to http://cbamerica.org/category/chaplaincy/ .  For information on endorsement for a wide variety of chaplaincy ministries, email me at chapandy@cbamerica.org.