In my role as Strategist for Global Evangelical Relations, I've had the great blessing, several times, to be with North America Mission Board's Keith Travis (Retired Colonel) who has the responsibility for the Southern Baptist Convention's Chaplain's Ministry. God bless NAMB, Dr. Geoff Hammond, and Keith Travis, because through their hard work and the Lord's blessings God truly is, in many ways, blessing our soldiers.
The following is an encouraging account that I heard when I was with Col. Travis and some of our Navy and Marine personnel at Parris Island, South Carolina. This account is from Jason Rochester, a Navy Chaplain serving at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot there.
One of the requirements for military chaplains is having an M.Div. degree. So, because I knew the Lord was calling me into this full time ministry, I enrolled at Southern Seminary after college.
While in school, God gave me the great privilege of serving on staff at Oak Park Baptist Church in Jeffersonville, Indiana. My position was the Director of Outreach and Missions. Part of my area of responsibility was overseeing the missions and evangelism strategies of the church. In order to help us develop an effective evangelism strategy, the pastor introduced the church leadership to FAITH. Immediately I was hooked. The pastor had already been trained in FAITH and knew the great potential this evangelism strategy held for our church. At the first opportunity, the chairman of the deacons and I took part in the training where I learned how to share the Gospel following the outline of this approach. Then I taught the members of our Sunday School classes — who made up the teams — how to share their faith.
The first semester we had three teams and saw a number of people who had drifted away return to church. On our very last night, God used one of our teams to draw a young couple into the Kingdom. Needless to say, we were all very excited. Over the next two and a half years, I was given the opportunity to lead teams and serve as the FAITH director. Leading teams and helping the church develop in evangelism was a deeply rewarding experience for which I am eternally grateful to God and to the great body of believers at Oak Park.
Now fast forward two years. I'm on active duty as a Navy chaplain, serving at Parris Island, where all male recruits east of the Mississippi River and all female recruits in the country come to be made into Marines. Needless to say, it can be a challenging and stressful time in their lives.
As chaplains, we have the opportunity to interface with these young men and women in these times of crisis and to encourage them with a message of hope. One such event happened when a young recruit asked to speak with me after a service. He informed me that he had grown up in an Islamic family, but was not convinced that Islam had the answers he was looking for. He very simply asked me, "Can I be a Christian?" Needless to say, I was more than happy to answer that question. Immediately, God brought into my memory the FAITH outline. Even though I was not on an evangelistic visit with my team to back me up, I sensed God prompting me to use the outline, so I did.
God is so good! Because of the opportunity God brought my way, and the preparation He gave me in seminary, I'm happy to report that this young man is now our brother in Christ. This is just one of many such encounters God has allowed me to take part in. Let me encourage you that no matter what situation or circumstance you find yourself in, evangelism training will be a blessing to you.
I'm presently wrapping up my tour at Parris Island and preparing to go to a forward deployed ship. As I go, I'm looking forward to how God is going to use me and the training I have received to continue to advance the Kingdom. May God richly bless you as you serve Him. And please continue to pray for all our service men and women and for all the chaplains serving around the world as we strive to encourage them toward Christ and eternal life. Semper Fidelis!
The chaplains that the North American Mission Board are endorsing are some of our all-time best! We should be praying for them daily as they minister to our men and women in the military.