Feature

For God and Country

Alliance Chaplains are transforming our military

By

Our man at the Pentagon? Bob, did I hear you correctly?”

Just over a year ago I asked that question of our C&MA Military Chaplain Endorser, Chaplain (LTC) Bob Collins, US Army (ret.). “Yes, that’s right,” he responded. “Give Jim Puchy a call—I’m sure he will help you!”

I had no idea that the C&MA had senior level chaplains serving in such places of influence. Nor did I have any idea that calling Jim would change my life. All I knew is that I needed help reaching a segment of my city that was being overlooked.

A Vast Field

In almost every city across the United States, one of every three homeless males in their twenties is a veteran. I knew this was true of my city, but I was clueless about how to minister God’s grace to those who served in our military.

Today there are 1.4 million U.S. military troops, 400,000 reservists and 500,000 people serving in the National Guard. Eighty percent of our active duty troops are between the ages of 18 and 24 (compared with 30 percent of the U.S. general population).

During the past year I have come to realize that the military is a mission field—and our military chaplains are missionaries! The Pentagon considers the 6,000 military chaplains to be the most important resource for ensuring the spiritual health of military service members.

Chaplains minister not only to the 2 million deployed personnel and our 24 million veterans but also to the sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, parents and grandparents of active duty and retired military. That is a people group of more than 100 million—about a third of our nation!

Leaders of Caliber

God has given our C&MA military chaplains favor, and they are leveraging their positions of influence to transform our military! C&MA chaplains have faithfully served our country since World War II. Our heritage is strong, and our reputation for being Christ centered and willing to serve in the hard places is well known. Our chaplains serve in the army, navy and air force (active duty, reserve and National Guard). They serve the soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines of our nation on military installations around the world, on ships at sea, and with military forces deployed worldwide. They are also called to bring their unique ministry strengths and gifts as they serve the families of our military.

The C&MA currently has 29 U.S. military chaplains serving our armed forces. In addition, there are 25 Alliance chaplain candidates, three of whom are slated for active duty in 2010. Below are just five snapshots of exceptional caliber displayed by these fine men:

Chaplain (Col.) John Alexander (U.S. Army), the installation chaplain at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, supervises more than 75 members of unit ministry teams (usually consisting of a chaplain and enlisted chaplain assistant). He preaches regularly at a large chapel on post. John has served at almost every level of command, including his time as the Second Infantry Division chaplain in Korea. John will retire from the military in 2010 after more than 30 years of service.

Chaplain (Col.) Tim Leever (U.S. Army Reserve) serves at Fort Bragg, our military’s largest installation. He has been mobilized for active duty for nearly two years and continues to support the overall ministry plan at the installation. When not activated, Tim is licensed through the South Atlantic District. He pastored the Faith Alliance Church in Goldsboro, N.C., until January 2009.

Chaplain (Col.) John Powers (U.S. Army) serves as the command chaplain for United States Army, Japan and I Corps (Forward). He oversees the spiritual welfare of all our soldiers, authorized civilians and their families across Japan. John served as an enlisted soldier during the Vietnam War. As an army chaplain, John has served in Korea; Hawaii; Fort Ord, California; Fort Polk, Louisiana; Fort Lee, Virginia; Fort Sill, Oklahoma; and twice at Camp Zuma, Japan, before his current assignment there.

Chaplain (Col.) Ron Huggler (U.S. Army) is the installation chaplain at Fort Bliss (our second largest U.S. military post), located in El Paso, Texas. Ron provides spiritual leadership for the command and the more than 70 unit ministry teams stationed that serve nearly 30,000 soldiers. His ministry vision to bring the El Paso religious community into partnership with unit chaplains and post leadership to support families coming to and deploying from Fort Bliss has become a model for other military installations around the country.

The work that Ron and his wife, Sue, do is influencing the entire city of El Paso—more than 50 churches around Fort Bliss are participating in the “Host Family” program that the Hugglers developed! In addition, they are editing the E100 Military v.1.0 (a Bible resource designed to help military personnel engage in the life-changing message of the Word of God). This tool has the potential to impact more than 1 million people during the next five years. Ron will retire this month after more than 30 years of faithful service.

Chaplain (Col.) Jim Puchy (U.S. Army) serves at the U.S. Army Chief of Chaplains Office in Washington, D.C., as the director of Sustainment and Information. The first time Jim took me to the Pentagon, I was simply overwhelmed. He is a trusted advisor to the Army Chief of Chaplains and supervises communications, logistics, finances and all building projects for the Army Chaplain Corps.

Jim is also working on a dynamic project that we believe will impact the entire culture of the military—Engage Your Strengths, a talent assessment tool to drive soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines toward Scripture engagement and a lifestyle of a “preferred future.” In addition, Jim and his wife, Becky, have been church planters. These chapels are still growing and serving the Lord in Hawaii and at Fort Monroe and Fort Belvoir, Virginia. Jim will be retiring next year after more than 30 years of faithful service.

A Call to Action

I am so thankful that Chaplain Puchy graciously opened my eyes to the military mission field right here in the United States. He taught me to approach those in the service of our country as if I were a missionary, especially as I minister to the scores of homeless vets in my city. He showed me the importance of knowing their culture, language and needs as well as the needs of their families. He taught me to pray for our military, our chaplains and those they serve. Over the past year I have learned how to become an advocate for our military and how to invite Alliance pastors and congregations to partner with our military chaplains by becoming host churches.

Within the next 24 months Chaplains Alexander, Leever, Huggler and Puchy will retire (Chaplain Powers within the next 36 months). Who will replace them? The truth is we need many more Alliance chaplains in the military. God has given the C&MA an open door to influence and impact the U.S. military.

Is God Calling you to the Chaplaincy?

Federal Chaplain Ministries, full-time and part-time, include all military services, Veterans Administration chaplaincy, federal prison ministries (see alife, June 2006) and even voluntary ministry with the Civil Air Patrol.

Non-federal chaplaincies (institutional ministries) include state and local hospitals, jails, prisons, hospices, industrial/work place and many local voluntary chaplain ministries.

These are great opportunities to reach out to communities and bring the love of Christ to friends and neighbors as the gospel is lived out and Christ is honored. For more information, contact the director for Chaplain Ministries for The C&MA at 254-699-9809 or rcollins2@hot.rr.com.

—Chaplain (LTC) Bob Collins, U.S. Army (ret.)

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