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.

Faces of Hope: Ministry to Women Abused, Addicted, and Arrested

By Chaplain Jerry Levizon-Hughes, Klamath Falls, Oregon

This year I met up with some familiar faces that found themselves in need of a friend. Once again, they were willing to have me in their lives, letting me share God’s love, peace, and plan for them.

(photo: Jerry and her husband, James)

Mimi returned to jail early this year, and I could talk to her about God’s plan for her life.  This friend has had many battles with alcohol. Little has helped her stay sober, so it was easy to say, “Why not give Jesus a chance, what have you got to lose?”

In February, Mimi set out on her new path to Portland Oregon at NARA, Native American Rehabilitation Association of the Northwest, Inc., a Native American rehabilitation facility that has helped many who battle with addiction.

Kim is a mother of seven children and a gal who I have been working with for two and one-half years. I have come to care very deeply for her and her family. Last summer she fell back into her addiction.

It’s been hard to see the pain she has put her children through.  So much so, that God led us to foster her oldest girl.  Please pray for this family.  Josalyn lives with us while Star, Jessica, and James are in a foster home near us.

Catalina, Penny, Estee, Mady, and Sara; I call them my sunshine gals. Including photos of these gals reminds me just how much I have been blessed in knowing them.

Each has their own story of knowing that God loves them. If just for a moment in time, I can share with them what God has given me through His grace, kindness, and Word.  It is how I can best love them.  I didn’t  know I could love so many women in these situations. There are still many who aren’t ready, and I know God will keep me here until he is done with the work he wants me to do for Him.  I couldn’t be more challenged and fullfilled.

Thank you for this opportunity to share these faces with you.

Jerry Levizon-Hughes

Director’s Note:

Jerry’s own story of redemption prepared her for ministry to women in difficult situations. Approached by the elders of her church to join them ministering to those locally incarcerated; focusing on jailed and newly released females, Jerry, with the support of her husband, James, undertook a mammoth ministry task.  It’s difficult, messy, and at times disappointing, but the “faces of hope” included in this report, motivate Jerry to keep visiting, listening, smiling, and sharing the Love of Christ with women who have been abused, addicted, and arrested.

Join me in praying for Jerry and her unique ministry. It is one a select few will pursue.  She is one of 195 CBAmerica chaplains, full-time, part-time, and volunteer, who are “reaching those others can’t…or won’t!”

For more stories of chaplain life and ministry, go to http://cbamerica.org/category/chaplaincy/.  To inquire about endorsement for a wide variety of chaplaincy ministries, email Director of Chaplaincy, Andy Meverden, at chapandy@cbamerica.com.

Sustaining Spiritual Care for Michigan Veterans During Major Change

By Chaplain Bruce Kalish, Grand Rapids Home for Veterans (GRHV)

 Dear Chaplain Andy,

In addition to the brief on-line report that I submitted today, I am sending this letter to further define my chaplaincy work this first half of 2018.

The backdrop for our current operational climate at the Home is the on-going plan to construct a new 128-unit skilled nursing home on our present campus and several more across Michigan in the next decade. The first site plan was challenged and discarded when it was found to be on a wetlands section of our property. The new site plan has been approved, but will require removal of several buildings, including the chapel.

While all this change hovers overhead and infuses any conversation of more than ten-minutes between staff or members; the work of chaplaincy continues:

  • We had 25 deaths and No Member Dies Alone* volunteers were activated for 13 of these.
  • In addition to the individual contacts noted in the on-line report, 123 spiritual screens were done, mostly by interns, completing our census roster, and setting a baseline for annual screens starting this month.
  • My role was expanded to become the clinical spiritual care expert on our five-daily, unit Inter-disciplinary team rounds and on weekly Behavioral Management meetings (assessing psych med prescriptions and alternatives).
  • Three chaplain interns were trained: In the fall, two will enter CPE programs and the third will enter USN pre-chaplaincy program (hopefully).
  • I was asked to edit updated policies and procedures for GRHV and to create spiritual care-plan templates for the Electronic Medical Records data base.
  • I was also recruited to participate on an advisory workgroup for the new site plan, especially as it affects the chapel services and our many monuments and memorials. This will continue to December 2018.

In early June, the chaplains were informed by our supervisor that our department was being re-organized to align it with the future needs of a reduced census. We chaplains anticipated changes would come, but we thought they would begin next year. Wrong.

Beginning mid-June, two of our three P-11 chaplains would be approved for twenty-hour work weeks. The third chaplain’s position would go unfilled. Since I was the last hire, my position would be unfilled. (This could be done because we are considered permanent intermittent employees, neither full-time nor part-time. At the will of our supervisor, we can work between five and forty hours. She can cap our hours according to departmental need.)

In the same conversation this reorganization was presented, I was offered the opportunity to apply for a new position as administrative lead chaplain. Since I am the only Board-Certified Chaplain, I am the only one of us who meets this basic qualification for the advanced position.

Until the position is filled, I have been assigned its duties, working out of class at forty hours weekly. Meanwhile, the Administrative Chaplain, P-12 was posted 03 July within the DMVA. I have applied. Posting will close on 10 July 2018. Interviews will follow and the position will be filled by the end of July. At that time, I will either be employed or seeking employment. Either way, God will provide.

Of course, I’d prefer to remain working at GRHV full-time for the next five years. I would like this to be the capstone of my ministry life. I embrace the challenge of shaping our department into a model that can be reproduced in the six Michigan Veteran homes to be built over the next decade and beyond. Like Caleb, I have a mountain-sized appetite only God can fill. Your prayer support is welcome!

Thanks for your chaplaincy updates, your work, your prayers, and your support.

With you in Christ,

Bruce
Bruce Kalish
06 July 2018
Grand Rapids, MI

*No Member Dies Alone, is a staff-coordinated, volunteer program developed and implemented under Chaplain Kalish’s leadership.  Its Mission: “When one of our members enters the final stages of life having no family or friends present, or if those present need respite; GRHV will enfold that member with dignity and honor by continuous support and companionship, ensuring no member dies alone.”

Director’s Note: Whereas most people think of the VHA (Veterans Health Administration) as the main provider of our Nation’s Veterans’ healthcare and disability, many are unaware of the long-term skilled nursing and end of life care provided by State-run Veteran’s Facilities. My home state, Colorado, has five (5) such care facilities that I visited annually with the State Adjutant General by Army Guard Helicopter (the same ones used to drop buckets of water on Western wildfires).  We were impressed by the compassionate, skilled level of care provided to our aging Veterans at these State-run Veterans’ Homes.  My wife, Myra, and I currently volunteer with the Rocky Mountain Sub Vets to run a monthly BINGO session.  Our oldest participant is Angie, a spry Army widow who recently turned 101! (She brings her own special cards.) Our nation’s Veterans are dear to our hearts.

Chaplain Bruce Kalish’s ministry is unique. He is the only CBAmerica chaplain currently serving fulltime in a State-run (Michigan) home for Veterans.  Though exciting to learn of Michigan’s plan to build and staff a network of six Veteran Homes, the chaos of the upcoming process is unimaginable.  Despite the turmoil of this great endeavor, Chaplain Kalish has developed a sustainable, working model of effective chaplaincy for aging and terminally ill Veterans. Join me in praying with Bruce for the wisdom, stamina, and organizational support to see this effective ministry implanted in each planned Veteran’s Home in the Great State of Michigan.

Pray for Chaplain Kalish, during this next phase of life and ministry, along with CBAmerica’s other 195 chaplains (military and civilian). For more stories of chaplain life and ministry, go to http://cbamerica.org/category/chaplaincy/.  To inquire about endorsement for a wide variety of chaplaincy ministries email Director of Chaplaincy, Andy Meverden, at chapandy@cbamerica.com.

The Blessing of the Birds: Chaplain Prays as Unit Deploys

By Chaplain Dan Moen, with Andy Meverden

Effective military chaplains are flexible, adaptable, and creative.  Rather than being the main drivers in establishing unit culture and activities, they are often placed in a reactive/responsive position, while they “roll with the punches,” and “hurry up and wait!”  Chaplain Dan and Sasha Moen’s recent experience illustrates this.  Originally scheduled to deploy to the Pacific, recent world events put that on hold, until “higher up” got a new mission, which finally came.  Following is an example of how one Army family handles chaotic deployment circumstances, with creativity and grace.

Chaplain Moen writes:

“We’ve been preparing for our deployment to Germany for 7 1/2 months! Sasha was asked to be president of PWOC (Protestant Women of the Chapel) and we’ve been working with our Squadron leadership to establish a FRG (Family Readiness Group).

Chapel Next* is experiencing major transitions – most of the Division is deployed, so attendance has dropped. In addition, the current space we are using is an old Battalion headquarters. The new SFAB (Security Force Assistance Brigade) units will be moving into our space so we are getting bumped to the Middle School on Post. We are trying to move prior to my deployment. It will feel like a church plant ministry.

Recently, I conducted a “blessing of the birds” as our pilots flew all our Apaches (Army attack helicopters) to the port in Texas for transport to Germany. It was a great turn-out of about 50 Soldiers!  See attached pictures!

 

Dan and Sasha ask you to pray for the following:

  • Our family, Sasha, Daniella, and Hannah, while I’m gone.
  • Sasha’s leadership in Post PWOC and unit FRG
  • Chapel Next transitions next 2 months
  • Safety for us all during deployment
  • Great ministry opportunities in Germany & at “home.”

Chaplain Andy concludes:

In April, I drove down to Ft Carson to visit with Chaplain Moen’s command team – the whole team! In closing, the Brigade Commander – an Apache attack helicopter pilot — asked me to pray, not only for his Soldiers and their Families, but also “our enemies,” as their Air Cavalry Unit prepared to deploy. I did. Immediately following, I enjoyed lunch with Dan and his wife, Sasha, at the Post Exchange food court. Sasha was recently selected to lead the Protestant Women of the Chapel (PWOC) on base. Pray for them on deployment; both in key positions of ministry leadership on “The Mountain Post.”

Pray for Dan and Sasha Moen, during this next phase of life and ministry, along with CBAmerica’s other 195 chaplains (military and civilian). For more stories of chaplain life and ministry, go to http://cbamerica.org/category/chaplaincy/.  To inquire about endorsement for a wide variety of chaplaincy ministries email Director of Chaplaincy, Andy Meverden, at chapandy@cbamerica.com.

Notes: *Chapel Next is the Army’s version of Contemporary Chapel Services with a modern focus on serving the younger generation of Soldiers and their Families.  Like many US churches, they have a multi-instrument band with vocalists, casual environment, and practical, biblical messages with family-oriented support ministries for children (AWANA), youth (Club Beyond), single-Soldier and couples Bible Studies.

 

Hospital Therapy Pool Turned Baptistry: Good News at the VA

By Chaplain Dru Nelson, US Navy

A couple months ago, I had the honor and privilege of baptizing three Veterans at the San Diego VA Medical Center. Two weeks prior to the baptism, I had led one of the veterans pictured to Christ.  I met the other two through various interactions; one through a weekly Bible study and the other through “deck plate*” ministry.

After the initial veteran gave his life to Christ, he began to read a Bible that he had been given.  When I checked in with him the following day, he had already read the first two Gospels, and expressed the desire to follow in obedience to Jesus’s command for baptism.

He asked if I could baptize him at the VA. I let him know that to my knowledge, full immersion baptism had not happened at that facility, but that I would see what I could come up with. After pulling some strings and a lot of persistence, we were able to lock-on the therapy pool.

Once news of the upcoming baptism spread, two additional veterans joined in. One of them also dedicated his life to Christ, while the other was already a Christian, but had not been baptized as an adult.  The three veterans in the picture represent the Navy, Marine Corps and Army. The three men had served their country honorably within each service and are now engaged in a life changing relationship with Jesus Christ.

Notes: *Deck Plate Ministry is a Navy term for work place ministry on board Navy Ships – the “deck plate” being the “floors” on ships and other Navy facilities.  I used to call it “ministry by wandering around.”  It is proactive incarnational ministry in the military context.

While completing his Clinical Pastoral Education at the San Diego VA Medical Center, Chaplain Nelson shared the Gospel with Veterans eager to acknowledge and follow Christ as Savior and Lord. As clinical chaplain and patient advocate, he responded to these requests for baptism by approaching the hospital administration who eventually cooperated with the Veterans’ request.  I thank God for the change of attitude and accommodation of the “free exercise of religion” in the Veterans Health Administration.  Pray for continued transformation of that huge bureaucracy as they seek a new national director of the VHA chaplain service to replace retiring Chaplain Michael McCoy.

Chaplain Nelson is one of 15 Navy chaplains (13 active duty and 2 reserve) endorsed by CBAmerica. Pray for them as they serve Navy, Marine, and Coast Guard personnel on, under, and over the sea, and at Naval and Marine Corps installations around the world.

The Navy is seeking active duty and reserve chaplains. For information on endorsement in the sea services, contact Chaplain Andy Meverden, Director of Chaplaincy at chapandy@cbamerica.org.

Send Us Your Best: CBAmerica’s Newest Army Chaplain Checks-Out & In

By Chaplain Phil Persing, with Intro by Andy Meverden, Director of Chaplaincy

Every time we endorsers meet with the Military Chiefs of Chaplains; we hear the same thing: “Send us your best! We need your best!”

After ten years on the staff of First Baptist Church, Juniata, Pennsylvania, Pastor Phil and Beckie Persing (and their five sons) followed the Spirit’s leading into the Army Chaplaincy.  The first time I met the Persing Family was at Phil’s graduation from the Chaplain Basic Officer Leader Course (CHBOLC).

Escorted to my seat, I reviewed the program.  I looked for Chaplain Persing’s name, customarily listed in alphabetical order.  It wasn’t there.  Initially, wondered if there was a mistake, or worse.  Then I glanced to the top of the list.  Under the title: “Honor Graduate,” was Phil’s name.

The ceremony proceeded; speakers spoke, awards were presented, and the event concluded.  The class of newly graduate Army chaplains filed out forming two-ranks through which attendees would pass.  At the end of the sidewalk stood Phil next to other recognized graduates, most of them prior military, some highly decorated.  As I took his hand, I said, “Why didn’t you tell me?”  He replied, “Somethings are best left unsaid.”

Not only did Phil “check-out” in chaplain school, but he immediately “checked-in” to his first assignment at Fort Hood.   Following is his first family newsletter:

Continuing on Mission…

Hello from Fort Hood, Texas, where time seems to be flying by! The last several weeks have been filled with activity and intense preparation for the coming days. God has been consistently proving His sufficiency for our family as we are experiencing His blessings and finding He provides just what we need at exactly the right time. We hope that you are seeing evidence of His gracious love at work in your life today as well.

Chaplains Singing Hymns on Easter Sunday

April began with Fort Hood celebrating Jesus’ resurrection in a garrison-wide Easter sunrise service. Chaplains from the many on-post chapels came together to proclaim the hope we have over sin and death. Pray for the many in attendance who heard the gospel that day!

Several days later, Phil officiated and preached at a memorial ceremony for a young Soldier in his unit (apparent suicide). While we thank God that the service accomplished the chaplain’s sacred duty to “honor the fallen,” it was a sobering reminder of the struggles that all too many Soldiers are facing these days, and of the urgency to bring them a life-saving message of hope that all people need to hear and trust.

On April 19-20, Phil joined his squadron on an intense 28-hour long event called a “spur ride.” It’s a voluntary cavalry tradition that involves strenuous PT challenges, land navigating and ruck marching over 25 miles through the woods, conducting a simulated “night raid,” and memorizing significant dates and facts from the history of the 3d Cavalry Regiment. For surviving this ordeal, Phil was awarded his silver spurs (yes, it’s a set of spurs to be worn on uniform boots. Who knew?).

Gabe’s Car Took 1st Place in the AWANA Grand Prix

Our whole family has had its share of excitement this month. Our oldest boys recently designed and raced cars in the AWANA Grand Prix. Out of 21 racers, Gabe and Jack took home first and second place! The on-post AWANA program is soon ending for the summer. When it kicks off again in the fall, Beckie will be taking a leadership position in the “TnT” group (3rd-6th graders) — a position to which she thankfully brings much experience and expertise.

In late April, we were blessed with the opportunity to gather with some old friends for a week’s vacation near Branson, Missouri. It was a refreshing opportunity to see a part of the country we’d never previously visited, and to spend some time relaxing with loved ones.

This was especially important for our family, as we are gearing up for Phil’s deployment.The deployment plan will involve Phil ministering to Soldiers on mission in the Middle East. While there, he will be leading the morning worship service every Sunday, teaching a Thursday evening Bible study, providing counsel and pastoral care for Soldiers, and advising the command on issues that arise. The current schedule (which has undergone some changes, and could always change again) has Phil returning to Fort Hood in the fall.

Your prayers are certainly treasured during this deployment. First and foremost, thanks are due to God for calling us to a God-sized task for His glory– there is no better place to be than serving Him in the way He directs and equips.   Please remember to pray for the Soldiers’ safety, success in the mission, the salvation of souls, godly wisdom for the leaders, and the overwhelming assurance of God’s presence and peace for our entire family during the months to come.

With Trust in Him and Love for You,

The Persing Family:  Phil, Beckie 
Gabe, Jack, Hayden, Clark, & Timothy

God reigns over the nations;
God sits on his holy throne. The princes of the peoples gather as the people of the God of Abraham. For the shields of the earth belong to God; he is highly exalted! “
 
-Psalm 47:8-9