Chaplain (1st Lieutenant) Cameron Michael, on of the newest Grace Brethren military chaplains, is writing as he transitions from serving as a Grace Brethren pastor to active duty chaplain. Cameron is a 2011 graduate of Grace College. Following his graduation from Grace Theological Seminary in 2014, he began leading the Pauling, Ohio, campus of Grace Community Church (Kevin Pinkerton, pastor). He currently is stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C. Below is this month’s post.
To learn more about Grace Brethren military chaplains, see the Eagle Commission.
The month of June has been a great month of doing ministry in the military. Like many churches, Army chapels have vacation Bible school also. I spent a week helping with the VBS Sports Camp on Ft. Bragg. Then the following week, our Fort Bragg Chapels hosted a “traditional” VBS. It worked exactly like any children’s ministry event I have ever been a part of. I had the privilege to lead a child to accept Christ, and pray with many others. There is freedom to make bold statements of faith. In fact, one of the challenges I have heard from senior chaplains is that many commanders are frustrated that chaplains tend to limit themselves too much.
I also had the opportunity to lead a Single Soldier Spiritual Resiliency event. A total of 18 soldiers signed up for a day of paintball and fun. I taught them my role and duties as a chaplain, which led to a couple of soldiers seeking out counseling. I also talked about the importance of accountability, of having a “battle buddy” especially in the areas of finance, and with how they spend their free time. In the photo, I’m in the back row wearing the tan baseball cap.
One difference with local church ministry that I learned very quickly is government bureaucracy is real, even in planning and resourcing these types of ministries. We are encouraged to conduct events like VBS and Spiritual Resiliency training, but that does not mean there aren’t a lot of hoops to jump through beforehand. Somehow, it seems like every time anything is done is the first time even though chaplains have been conducting these kinds of programs for decades.
I am learning similar things in pursuing an Army requirement to go to Airborne (“Jump”) School. My unit is an airborne unit which means every member of the unit be trained and prepared to parachute into any mission or situation. Yet it is a long drawn out process to go to the training so that seems like has never happened to anyone before me. My wife Kerri laughed at me because I said on a good week I start with a to-do list and finish with half of it done, and feel accomplished.