FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. (BP) – SBC Chaplain (CPT) Logan Lair recently baptized more than 150 U.S. Army soldiers as a part of summer chapel services during basic training in Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.
Lair told Baptist Press 84 new trainees were baptized in July, and 73 in August.
“Trainees, typically from my perspective, have been pretty hungry to learn about spirituality and their spiritual strength,” Lair said.
“It’s great to see their spiritual strength grow through basic training. It’s an amazing blessing for me as a chaplain to be able to see where those trainees have come from and then to see where they are going. I get excited every baptism Sunday. … It’s such a joy to see.”
Lair explained Fort Leonard Wood typically experiences a “summer surge” of initial entry trainees beginning in June because of soldiers enlisting after high school graduation. The high-pressure environment often prompts spiritual conversations, he said.
“It goes without saying, basic training is stressful,” Lair said.
“[A trainee] graduates high school, maybe a day or two later gets on a bus to go an army base. As soon as they get off the bus, they’re immediately encountering drill sergeants, army structure and discipline, and it doesn’t stop for a couple weeks. That’s inevitably a stressful situation for them.
“The Chaplain plays a great role in all of that because we create a safe place for a trainee to process and vent. As a Chaplain I get a lot of tears, in fact I carry tissues on my uniform and usually go through about a pack a day. Many times, those conversations are spiritual conversations, and we’re able to talk about that spirituality piece.”
Lair said occasionally, a trainee will ask him about his faith, and he’s able to share the Gospel, something he calls “an honor and a joy.”
Lair said two chapel services and various Bible studies are offered on Sundays, in addition to spiritual guidance and counseling services available through several Protestant chaplains working at Fort Leonard Wood.
As many as 2,000 trainees will attend the services, and baptism services are held on the third Sunday in July and August.
Lair is thankful for the opportunity to minister to the trainees and said Fort Leonard Wood’s baptisms are just one example of God moving in the military.
“That baptism service is one of many testimonies of the good work Army chaplains are doing all around the world in our nation’s military,” he said. “My counterparts, other chaplains, are doing amazing things on other posts (basic training locations) that have similar stories. It’s an absolute blessing to each and every one of us. It’s a team effort.”
Lair, a North American Mission Board-endorsed chaplain and graduate of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, was commissioned as an active-duty Army chaplain in 2019 and came to Fort Leonard Wood in January of this year.
“I was a civilian pastor and church planter for a long time,” he said. “The connections I make, the counseling that I do, the highs and lows that I walk with people on a daily and weekly basis is not even comparable to my civilian ministry,” Lair said.
“It’s an amazing joy for me to walk with soldiers and family through their challenging days and their joyful days. A chaplain definitely gets to experience the highs and lows of life with people. Words can’t explain how joyful it is to be a part of that. Chaplaincy is the best job in the Army. I’ll fight anybody over that.
“Southern Baptists can be encouraged and should be praying for chaplains to be able to speak a spiritual component into the lives of soldiers. … There are great, life-changing moments that are happening at almost every moment.”