Time, Talent, Treasure: Warrior Forge

by Karen Fliedner, Managing Editor

Before Army ROTC cadets can be commissioned as second lieutenants, they must successfully complete what is now known as the Leader Development and Assessment Course (LDAC), a training event developing their leadership skills while evaluating their officer potential. Once held at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington, LDAC —Warrior Forge—now takes place at Fort Knox, Kentucky.

For the cadets who have spent their junior year in college preparing for event, their LDAC experiences will evoke a gamut of emotions from them during those challenging five weeks. Vacillating from happiness to dejection, anxiety to relief, they will combat long hours and little sleep, draining heat and humidity, and other multifaceted frustrations.

Greg Lane was assigned as a platoon TAC to Warrior Forge in 2000. Mentored by “great Christians” in the military such as Lyons Williams, and Gail and Pud Freimark—Greg met his future wife, Lucy, at the Freimarks’ OCF Bible study—Greg sensed that reaching out to those preparing “to lead and serve our nation” was something he also needed to do. Greg met with and discussed future OCF ROTC ministry possibilities at LDAC with a fellow OCF member and retired Marine, who was surveying the ministry potential.

The Marine’s name? Tom Hemingway, the former director of OCF’s Spring Canyon conference center and architect of its Rocky Mountain High outdoor leadership program. Greg first met his fellow Citadel grad years earlier, impressed by the retired lieutenant colonel’s “smile, friendliness, love for the Lord, and enthusiasm for getting the word out about Christ” to the military community. “Tom told me he was excited about ROTC ministry and looked forward to staying in touch,” said Greg. 

Greg never saw Tom again, who suddenly died only a few weeks later. And although he hadn’t really known “what Tom’s goals were,” Greg believes “the Lord placed a vision for reaching out to cadets for Christ” on the hearts of a permanent party of OCFers living in the Fort Lewis vicinity.

Among those spurred toward the promising mission field at Warrior Forge were longtime members John and Eva Haddick. Active in OCF since attending a home Bible study while at Fort Belvoir for EOBC, John was spiritually impacted by OCF patriarchs including Cleo “Buck” Buxton, Dr. Bob Smith and C.N. Tokatloglou (Mr. Tok). 

Conversations with the cadets are largely brief, occurring only at Warrior Forge’s voluntary chapel services. Those fleeting moments, however, are substantial. Digital camouflage New Testaments, booklets, pamphlets and brochures, and pocket-sized spiritual kits are available for the cadets, often stopping by to ask questions of the team members manning the tables.

Warrior Forge’s JBLM days were “blessed with superb support” from the Fort Lewis chaplains and OCF members including Larry Simpson, Tom Cole and Dick Rouse, said Greg. Those involved at Fort Knox includes OCFers Greg Thogmartin, Dan Dantzler, Jim Hocker (VALOR OIC) and Rob Humphrey. 

As an Army colonel, Rob is assigned to US Army Cadet Command—the headquarters responsible for Army ROTC. He himself came to OCF as an Army cadet, impressed by his OCF member Bible study leader’s “commitment to our spiritual growth.” And now as the Fort Knox OCF area coordinator, with the support of CRU Valor, Rob has “the pleasure of coordinating the ministry” to last summer’s 7,500 Army ROTC cadets, with as many as 12,000 cadets in coming years.” 

“God has placed me in my professional position to effect support of the OCF ministry across Army ROTC and directly with summer training,” said Rob, who was “greatly encouraged by Greg Lane.” Determined to develop a sense of support with—not independence from—the local chapel program, Rob relishes the “great partnership” he has with command chaplain Thogmartin, who plans and executes the cadet summer training ministries. 

Says Rob, “Partnership through our chapel programs is key to the success of OCF on Army installations, by showing how OCF laymen can support the burden the chaplain and his staff.”

That critical partnership with CRU's Valor, says Rob, is how OCF can “ensure cadets are connected and supported spiritually as a further prepare to the Army officers and servants of Christ. “



One of your ministry’s most moving moments?

Greg Lane: When a 2nd Ranger Battalion chaplain spoke to my platoon about the literal life-and-death importance of “being right with the Lord,” recounting the conversion of a corporal who gave a stirring testimony at chapel, and days later was killed during battle in Afghanistan.


Your advice for getting involved in the ministry of OCF?

Greg Lane: Start with a strong, daily devotional life of prayer and time in the Bible. Then ask the Lord to show you who around you is open to knowing more about Christ. Spend one-on-one time with them. And be in or start an OCF fellowship group. 

Rob Humphrey: Serve where you are planted. God placed you in a location for a purpose. No matter how small you think it may be, connect with your local OCF coordinator and ask how you can support the spiritual growth of others in your community. It doesn't have to take much time and a many hands make light work of spreading the Gospel.


Why OCF?

Greg Lane: The Lord has placed my wife, Lucy, and me in the midst of the U.S. military. This is our mission field, a wonderful gift from the Lord to serve Him by reaching our military for Christ through OCF. OCF provides support, structure, and follow-on opportunities for our military members as they move from post to post during their careers. OCF offers Christian fellowship opportunities for them via OCF’s conference centers’ ministry and retreats. The people we have known and currently know that serve in OCF and those we fellowship with are precious treasures we are blessed to have! 

Rob Humphrey: I fully espouse to the tenets of OCF's ministry. I truly feel that God has a purpose for me outside of uniform and OCF provides me a conduit for that purpose.