The COMMAND magazine editorial staff interviewed several OCF military chaplains who gave insightful and diverse answers. Chaplains of all branches were invited to participate; the chaplains in this Q & A were the ones who responded.
What is the biggest challenge you currently face as a military chaplain?
Kenneth Stice: Like all other warriors, chaplains experience the same stressors with deployments and separations.
Mark Fairbrother: Staying Christ-centered, gospel-driven, and godly in response to the many demands and pressures that come upon us. Both taking initiative and responding in the great variety of situations imposed by war-fighting are challenging to begin with; doing it in a godly fashion takes constant reliance upon prayer, the encouragement of Scripture, and the ministry of the Holy Spirit.
Ron Prosise: A temptation that many chaplains face is to compromise, toning down the Word, pleasing men rather than pleasing God (1 Thessalonians 2:4).
Steve Satterfield: Getting the support needed to help others. Educating others that chaplains do not just handle spiritual issues.
Fred Robinson: Managing the incredible administrative workload.
If you could tell our readers just one thing about the chaplaincy, what would it be?
Marc Gauthier: The chaplaincy is cutting-edge ministry. There is an amazing opportunity to be the last one to share the gospel with someone before entering combat, and possibly entering eternity that day.
Mark F: The chaplaincy is an incredible opportunity to present and represent the claims of Christ — but it is not a calling for the faint hearted. Spiritual battle in the midst of physical battle is an extreme challenge. You need to endure all manner of tedious activities in order to gain the ears of those to whom you are called to take the Good News.
Kenneth: Pray! I have been privileged to see firsthand the remarkable answers to prayer from God’s people. There are thousands of answers downrange in the combat zone that must surely come from God’s faithfulness to hear and answer the prayers of His people.
Rick Hamme: Individual OCF members should say “thank you” to their chaplains — past and present. Find a creative way of thanking chaplains that you are presently stationed with.
Ron P: Remember the families of reservists as they have special challenges when their loved ones are separated from them and in harm’s way. The spouse of a reservist might not have anyone within his/her circle of friends or family who can relate to the situation.
CH(MAJ) Mark Fairbrother, USA
CH(MAJ) Marc Gauthier, USA, former OCF Council Member
CDR Rick Hamme, CHC, USNR (Ret.)
CH(Lt Col) Ron Prosise, USAFR
CH(LTC) Fred Robinson, USA (Ret.)
CH(CPT) Steven Satterfield, USA
CH(LTC) Kenneth Stice, USA
“First Peter 3:15 tells us to always be prepared to give an answer. I call that ‘living a questionable life’ where you are open to others questioning you. Be prepared to answer their questions.” —CH(MAJ) Marc Gauthier, USA
How do you deal with the gravity of the information you take in daily?
Fred R: You have to say “no” to a lot of the information out there. Set your priorities and, if necessary, only read and answer the e-mails from your boss and those you supervise. You don’t have time to read “good” books and magazines—only the best.
Mark F: I rejoice with those who rejoice; and I mourn with those who mourn (Romans 12:15). I remember that God has permitted me years of training—spiritual, physical, and professional. He has placed me where I am for such a time as this. Also, Proverbs tells us that God makes the righteous as bold as a lion. I am righteous in Christ, so I am called to be bold for Him.
Kenneth S: Establish accountability partners to share the burden. Without breaking confidentiality or privacy, it is possible to have others agree to pray and listen to your load. Pour out your heart and soul to God. I have found the honesty of the Psalmists to be the ticket to “getting real” with God. I lay it out for Him in my journal—where I can collect and express my thoughts—just myself and Him. Months later, when I flip through those pages, I can then appreciate how God was working on me and through me to do something. It also helps me share private expressions that I don’t think anyone else would understand, but He always does!
Marc G: By staying true to Christ—honoring Him and remaining confident in WHOM I believe.
Ron P: I cling to Psalm 90:12 “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”
Steve S: My devotional time with the Lord, communicating with family, friends, and coworkers helps me.
What can OCF members do to best support and help you and other chaplains?
Ron P: Pray for God to raise up workers for the harvest field.
Mark F: Pray the prayers of Colossians 1:9-12, Ephesians 1:15-19, and especially Ephesians 6:19-20. Whenever you are gathered with other believers for study and prayer, remember the chaplains you know by name. M
Fred R: Volunteer to lead a Bible study, teach a Sunday school class, read Scripture in the chapel service, or help out with a youth group. Be helpful and supportive—rather than “grilling” them on their faith and practice.
Kenneth S: When chaplains and OCF members/leaders understand their respective ministries, there is always great potential for collaborative events and cooperative ministry activities. Even when sincere theological differences exist between leaders, there can be a respect that values what each is doing to reach service members and their families. Many times the OCF family can best touch the lives of young people consistently throughout the week with its model of small-group ministry Bible studies.