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Chaplain looks for God-fearing soldiers

SEOUL, South Korea (BP)–Chaplain (CPT) Jim Breckenridge is at home in Korea. Before becoming an Army chaplain, he taught Old Testament at a nondenominational seminary in Seoul for four years.

Because the seminary was home to students from numerous countries — some of which were hostile to the Gospel of Christ — Breckenridge realized that some of the students might die because of his teachings.

“The things I’m teaching,” he asked himself, “are they worth dying for?”

Breckenridge used that question as the litmus test for the content of his teaching to offer his students truth worthy of their sacrifice.

Later, Breckenridge joined the U.S. Army Chaplaincy Program and now is stationed with the 94th Military Police Battalion on Yongsan Army Post in Seoul. The battalion consists of 1,200 troops located throughout the Korean Peninsula, including the Criminal Investigative Division as well as the Joint Security Area within the Demilitarized Zone separating North and South Korea.

A number of Christians work within the officer ranks of his battalion, perhaps because those attracted to police duty often are motivated by high ideals, Breckenridge said. Unfortunately, though, he noted that his soldiers tend to reflect the high divorce rates of those in law enforcement.

As one of the relatively older chaplains stationed in Seoul, Breckenridge also has noted the lack of a moral framework among many young soldiers.

“The younger generation,” he said, “has grown up not knowing the Lord.”

His challenge, he believes, is to find a means to implant values when loose living often is the norm.

“When a person rejects the authority of the Bible,” Breckenridge said, “there is no answer to the ‘why?'” for such questions as: Why shouldn’t I have sex outside marriage? Why should I persevere in a bad marriage? Why should I consider the needs of others higher than my own?

This helps explain why Breckenridge serves as the AWANA chaplain on the Yongsan Army Garrison in Seoul. The AWANA program meets throughout the school year and is open to children of all military and Department of Defense contractor personnel serving in Seoul. Its purpose is to give kids a solid foundation in the Word of God, primarily through memorizing Scripture. The program on Yongsan consistently attracts 300 kids per week, ranging in age from pre-K through early high school.

Breckenridge also serves as the assistant chaplain for the Hannam Chapel in a family housing area known as Hannam Village. He is also responsible for the annual Vacation Bible School at Yongsan. If that isn’t enough, he also conducts an English service at a Korean church in downtown Seoul on Sunday afternoons.

Of course, Breckenridge is thrilled any time soldiers or their families come to Christ as a result of his ministry. But he also welcomes what he calls “any evidence of God-fearing.” For this reason, he is comfortable having conversations with soldiers from any religious background, whether they are Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim or Jew.

Breckenridge recalled talking recently with a soldier who claimed to be a Wiccan. Although Wiccan beliefs are contrary to the principles of the Christian faith, Breckenridge said she at least was willing to talk about spiritual matters.

“When God-fearing is present in any form,” Breckenridge said, “then there is the opportunity and the challenge to introduce Jesus Christ into the conversation.”

Certainly, Chaplain Breckenridge is doing just that.
Ann Lovell is a media worker based in Seoul, South Korea, with the Southern Baptist International Mission Board.

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