As a Foursquare Army chaplain, I may find myself ministering in a large variety of circumstances at any place in the world. My deployment to Iraq was far from boring. With exception to a small break after 10 months, my assistant and I completed nine religious services a week in seven different locations spanning an area approximately 100 square kilometers.
That was a draining time for me. My voice was totaled because I was preaching without a mic, in dusty conditions and over the top of the noise of generators every time. It was a rich time of ministry, nonetheless.
For 14 months this went on, and I was happy to carry it out for my soldiers. However, the “10th service,” which I was privileged to be a part of, was my favorite and the most meaningful. It kept me in close connection with my original calling.
My deployment to Iraq was far from boring. With exception to a small break after 10 months, my assistant and I completed nine religious services a week in seven different locations spanning an area approximately 100 square kilometers.
The 10th service was never in the same place or at the same time; it was a small and deliberate service led by and made for local Iraqi nationals intent on worshiping Jesus together. It was underground, it was reverent, and the Spirit of God was there. One could not simply stumble upon it—it was not advertised, it occurred by invitation only, and it was authentic.
The Army Chaplain Corps loves to say that our chaplains are explicitly called to the Army. It’s easy to believe that. So many hours and sweat and tears go into the work of Army chaplaincy. But I contest the idea that I am called to be an Army chaplain. The moment I begin repeating that diversion is the moment I begin to lose efficacy.
As a Foursquare Army chaplain, I am first and foremost called to serve Christ, by which the Army chaplaincy is a mere means of accomplishing this part of my calling. The chaplaincy is not my calling in and of itself. When chaplains believe this, we forget to preach Jesus. We forget why we first joined and the stirring in our hearts that prompted us to love soldiers well. And when the time for leaving the military comes, we forget that the calling to Christ lasts a lifetime, and we fail to continue in the foremost purpose for our lives.
My dear pastor, on the front lines of our great and long-enduring spiritual battle, you are not called to XYZ Foursquare Church. You are called to Christ. And whether you can shout His name from the rooftops or are forced to provide a “10th service” of your own, Jesus will be glorified because you have not forgotten your first love. You have not been distracted by the urgency of the administrative senior pastor tasks. You have not forgotten your calling.
My dear fellow veteran Christian, I stand with you and the Commander of all the angel armies, Jesus. And when we are buried, let it be with our integrity intact. May our families hold their heads high because we loved them well, loved Christ well, and never forgot who we were. This Veterans Day, I am praying for you. Thank you for your service to God. You are loved.