Your Chapel--An Opportunity for Outreach and Service

by Col Rob Woodruff, USAF (Ret.)

A young lieutenant arrived on base and had been attending chapel services each Sunday. He wanted to be involved in the chapel program, so he made an appointment to meet with the chaplain to open up a line of communication.

As they met, the chaplain shared his vision for ministry to the base community and the needs he perceived within the chapel programs. The lieutenant then suggested that the OCF group could be considered a resource the chaplain might want to tap in to.

After the chaplain closed the meeting with prayer, the lieutenant asked if he might pray for the chaplain. The chaplain was not only surprised by the request, but moved to tears by this expression of Christian love. This was the beginning of a close and fruitful relationship.

The lieutenant in this true story understood and was putting into practice the tenets of one of OCF's eight Spiritual Pillars-Supporting the Chaplaincy: we support chapel-sponsored and workplace ministry activities through prayer, encouragement, and cooperating with and assisting chaplains and lay leaders.

Basically the chaplains exist in order to provide for the spiritual needs of the military community. Since the purpose of the OCF is essentially to minister to this same group of people, it seems obvious that we should come alongside those who have the official military charter for the task. Also since we are an organization committed to ministry in the name of Christ, what better place to begin ministering to the spiritual needs of the military community than in the chapel?

Chaplains often walk a lonely road, with little support from the organization they serve, infrequent interaction with their denomination, and a lack of understanding from their congregations.

We are exhorted to pray for one another (James 5:16), but we often overlook the very real needs of those in positions of spiritual leadership. Likewise, we may forget that those who spend much of their time encouraging others also need to be encouraged. Chaplains are certainly part of the "one another" of all of us needing daily encouragement (Hebrews 3:13).

Chapel programs give us an excellent opportunity to minister to persons at our installation since they cover a broad range of activities and of military ranks. People may complain about the chapel programs, but the complainers are usually not willing to do something about them. The best way to insure that the activities at your chapel are Christ-centered is to be actively involved through your participation and leadership.

You will find that many chaplains welcome godly men and women into their programs. There are opportunities virtually always available to those who are committed to Christian service (Ephesians 2:10, 4:12)

There have been many instances where local OCF groups have been committed to the success of their chaplains and the chapel programs. When this occurs, invariably both the chapel and the OCF groups grow strong and flourish, and provide the chaplains with a strong core group of leaders for their activities and a focal point for OCF ministry (Ephesians 4:16).

As you ask God to lead you to the best place of outreach and service to your local military community, consider these questions:

  • Do you see the chapel as a place you go to be ministered to-or where God can use you to minister to others?
  • Have you opened communication with your chaplains and inquired about their vision for reaching your installation?

Pray with other OCF members at your military installation for God's direction concerning your individual and collective involvement in the chapel. You may be pleasantly surprised!

Rob is a former OCF field staff representative at the U.S. Air Force Academy. He and his wife, Ginny, are proud parents and grandparents.

Adapted from COMMAND magazine, Winter 1990-91, Vol. 39 No. 4,