When the pressures of the military life and life in general seem overwhelming, who's your support system? Do you have a person or group that, like you, is running this most difficult of races, that you can rely on, and who in turn can depend on you when times get tough?
The story of Army Master Sergeant William Crawford, a Medal of Honor recipient whose job as squadron janitor at the Air Force Academy, inspired Col James Moschgat to pen 10 lessons in leadership.
What are your rights as an American in uniform? Is it permissible for a chaplain to pray in Jesus’s name? Can you have a prayer breakfast on a military installation? What about sharing my faith—can I do that?
You must pursue God and live out your faith while on active duty. It’s easy to get caught up in the cyclical training and deployment grind to where your faith comes out only on Sunday—if at all. Stay engaged. Find a spiritual battle buddy—someone to hold you accountable. Commit to a daily devotional. Be an example in both word and deed.
In this episode, OCF Managing Editor Karen Fliedner chats with Col Art Athens, USMC (Ret), about amazing grace—specifically, the four-part message Col Athens shared at a weekend retreat at White Sulphur Springs in 2004
Who will you meet today in an unexpected encounter, whether in a combat area, passageway, flight line, or on drills and maneuvers? And what will you say—and hear? In your command, how will you show Christ in your servant leadership?
I long to do great and noble things, but God reminds me it’s in the humble things that He can be extraordinary through me. Ultimately, I desire to be like Helen Keller: to do humble tasks as though they were great and noble.
It’s not unusual to hear people ask, “What is OCF?” or “What does OCF do?” They may wonder if OCF is a club of officers like-minded in their Christian faith, or just the local Bible study fellowship they attend.
As a servant leader being the hands and heart of Christ to others in life’s tragedies, TSgt Padgett suggested that helping others is as simple as being aware of the ways you can do so.
How does a faithful walk with Jesus give life, context, and direction to the exercise of military leadership? What opportunities do I have for doing good for others’ welfare and for God’s glory?
So much of today’s culture dwells on victimhood, on wounds that seem resistant to heal. Christ-followers don’t deny the wounds but come alongside the struggling wounded to offer the salve secured by the scarred, yet now Risen Lamb’s victory over sin and death.
For His disciples, God gives direction. Develop a habit of checking your tendency to slide off the course He sets. Seek and find that direction in all parts of life: personal, family, professional, and community.
Every planner for ground tactical combat operations knows the value of seeing the area of operations from above. Looking down on the terrain, you see risks, opportunities, and new ways to achieve your objective that cannot be seen from the ground.
A particularly effective leader sees the ends amidst the overwhelming hubbub of the present. Opposition, complexity, danger, and distracting opportunities threaten to paralyze or draw the leader off course.
One simple request from a platoon leader in one small group at one location on a single evening. But when multiplied over the weeks and miles of hundreds of Christian fellowships, just consider how the Spirit might work!
We all have hitches in our giddy-up. Most are wounds within our soul: bitterness, deceit, fear, shame, guilt, and others. They hinder us; they limit us in our service with and leadership of others.
Jesus taught often through parables. Every listener could garner solid adages for life. Yet there was a special category of those Jesus taught who received the deep and rich gems that would transform them and enable them in fruitful service to the Master.
If you are a leader, perhaps you are the one God appointed to initiate and lead a local fellowship, or you may be the one leader Christ has chosen as His ambassador in a unit or staff.
Men and women of authority, education, and influence are particularly susceptible. Their gifting, potentially so helpful in service and leadership, spills over to coat the heart with ill-placed personal pride and assurance.
No, we cannot redeem this fallen world and its deathly power on our own, but the One who can has asked us to partner in His work with what we can do. He simply asks us to “take away the stone.”
We all could use a Sherpa when facing new and formidable challenges. Junior leaders and young couples with their abundance of zeal and energy, but with limited experience, particularly benefit from a seasoned guide as they break new ground in life.
Also essential for Christian leaders are the daily development of subordinates; team building for unit cohesion and performance; setting of standards of respect and performance; and seasoning the unit culture with the aroma of Christ.
Including stewardship in our leader lexicon may put our responsibility and authority in proper balance. The goal of a Christ-like leader will remain Christ’s goals; the methods, means, and accompanying perks will then better honor Christ in practice
For those who have never led a small group, the prospect of starting such an endeavor might appear daunting and overwhelming given the busy lifestyle of those in the military. Here are tips for the new leader to consider both before and after his or her first meeting.
Traditionally, Christian small-group activities are more positive, edifying, less contentious, and less confrontational than their secular or non-Christian counterparts.
Small groups and Bible study may take place in a variety of settings, from foxholes to comfortable homes. Only one book is essential to the study—the Bible.
While we may be accustomed to defining the essence of our Christian faith in other ways, Christianity involves not only a relationship with God through Jesus Christ, but also an entirely different outlook on life that is grounded in the hope we have for all that God has promised.
By surrendering their spring break of relaxation to instead labor for the impoverished, the mission field experiences help cadets and midshipmen hone skills of selflessness and sacrifice that are essential to becoming effective Christ-like military leaders.
As they Experience, Serve, and Lead at White Sulphur Springs, the EXSEL Discipleship interns are helping military members and their families realize the restoration needed in these challenging times.
To be a leader God can use, three things must happen: We must have faith in something that is worthy of our faith; we must know who we are in Christ; and we must be prepared to fight the good fight, as we engage in spiritual warfare.
Those who have laced up boots or buttoned an Armed Forces uniform in service to our nation know all-too-well the difficult and tough terrain of the transitional military life they lead.
COMMAND asked a trio of chaplains—LT Jon Uyboco, CHC, USN; CH(MAJ) Todd Cheney, USA, and CH(COL) Marc Gauthier, USA—to share some insights and experiences of serving military men and women for Christ.
Now in its second year, the EXSEL (experience, service, leadership) discipleship program at OCF’s White Sulphur Springs Conference Center is a yearlong, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for young men and women ages 18-24.
As our culture continues drifting further into a post-Christian neo-pagan worldview, Christ-followers may be tempted to spiritual panic attacks. Especially for those of us striving to integrate faith and biblical worldview into our military profession, how can we remain faithful to our call when policies and programs appear to oppose higher principles and priorities?
When he was diagnosed with cancer in 1999, Mike says he worked through the usual questions and doubt—why me? what did I do?—but it was the continued struggle through multiple rounds of chemo, radiation, and surgeries that caused him to take a deeper look at the testimony God was preparing him for.
Take time to examine your own support system, or if you do not have one, get started now. The health of a marriage can often hinge upon the strength of the support system that has been established.
The term “servant leadership” evokes a varied range of impressions as to what that really means, looks like, and how it plays out in real life. At first glance, the seemingly incongruous servant leadership concept appears especially contrary in business settings or military circles where typically bosses lead, employees serve.
Transformational leaders help people understand the purpose, objectives and values of an organization by articulating a clear and appealing vision. From both a practical and biblical perspective, transformational leadership inspires, develops and empowers followers; it also hones our leadership skills so we become better leaders.
We reached out to two OCF small group leaders, LTC Tom Matelski, USA, and Lt Col Jim Wamhoff, USAF, and asked them to share their insights on starting and effectively leading a small group.
Just like the silly banana-eating Minions, each of us was created with an innate desire to belong to a community in fellowship. It’s not just a group of people with similar interests, but a body of believers united for a common purpose.
OCF has provided transitory military Christians with two static places—Spring Canyon in Colorado and White Sulphur Springs in Pennsylvania—for abundant opportunities of Christ-centered fellowship, programs and fun. The ideal end result: being equipped to reach others for Christ throughout the military society—and form lifetime friendships.
As a relational ministry where genuine biblical fellowship is essential for spiritual growth and sharing the good news of Jesus Christ, the very heart of the ministry of Officers’ Christian Fellowship remains small group fellowships.
In preparation for our move, I found myself wondering what our new neighbors would be like. OK, I was obsessing over it. We have grown to love the people we live next to, and trying to imagine unfriendly neighbors peering at us while grilling out on the deck was making my stomach hurt.
We leaders often cope with stress by trying to survive our wounding rather than allow God to heal and refresh us to fully live. God doesn’t want us to simply survive. God’s mission field, after all, is your heart and mine.
Army CWO2 Sheldon Duffy and his wife, Salena, share their story of Sheldon’s near-death experience with leukemia and how they endured the trials and uncertainties of not knowing if he would survive.
Like you, my husband, Steve, and I know what it’s like for our marriage to have to go into survival mode during extended periods of separation. We know the pressure of caring for children in the midst of huge transitions. We know the challenge of supporting each other when our own personal resources are depleted.
When PCSing, the most common strategies teens use with one another involve simple avoidance, picking a fight to create distance so it’s easier to leave, disconnecting through moodiness or hyperactivity, or adopting the “It’s all cool” act. This is why we need to build a RAFT.
Only by trusting God and His plan for our lives can we lead courageously in our duty as both officers and Christians. It’s time to build a strategy that calculates the risks of leadership minefields and faces them with a moral courage that matches the bravery of those we lead on the battlefield.
The Four Chaplains, also referred to as the "Immortal Chaplains" or the "Dorchester Chaplains," were four United States Army chaplains who gave their lives to save other civilian and military personnel as the troop ship USAT Dorchester sank on February 3, 1943, during World War II. They helped other soldiers board lifeboats and gave up their own life jackets when the supply ran out.
For Christians serving in our nation’s Armed Forces, even when their active duty days meld into retirement, God’s call to serve Him remains evergreen, for in age’s autumn years “…they will stay fresh and green” (Psalm 92:14), still bearing fruit.
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.
Exceptionally demanding—that is the four-year journey through one of our nation’s military service academies, deliberately designed as such to forge finely tuned military leaders from out of the fires of continual challenge. Cadets and midshipmen juggle jam-packed schedules that stretch them beyond the max physically, emotionally, mentally. And spiritually.
The heartbeat of OCF is the small group fellowship, over 360 of them occurring throughout our nation and across the globe, including New Zealand, Korea and Norway.
The adage of a church not being a building, but rather its people also applies to the ministry of Officers’ Christian Fellowship. Click a story below to get a snapshot of the vast entirety of ministry work that has gone on over the years through OCF, now entering its seventy-second year. The people and stories featured here represent all those who have sacrificially given of their time, talents and treasure—standing on the shoulders of giants while declaring God’s “power to the next generation” (Psalm 71:18).
Given the description in Ephesians 6 of the spiritual battle raging around us, what can we do to prepare for the moral ambushes upon us from the enemy and avoid becoming a spiritual casualty? This article explores 6 tactics to help you avoid becoming a spiritual casualty.
Marriage is hard enough for the everyday civilian. But add in the unique challenges of deployments, frequent moves, and high-pressure situations, and it’s no wonder military marriages are under stress.
Since warfare in and of itself is ultimately the warfare of our soul and spirit, we have the choice of allowing our healing to proceed through our spiritual maturation instead of succumbing to substance abuse to mask problems. Ultimately our ability to be healed, or at least cope with our issues, is based upon spiritual healing.
The following short story was written by OCF member MAJ Mario Miglietta, USA. It is based on a story told during an OCF Bible study that he attends. A person in the Bible study told of a Soldier from his battalion who had fallen on hard times, but who found encouragement and hope from a letter he received from his little sister. Mario says he was inspired by that story and wrote about what the Soldier had gone through—"how I imagined the story evolved."
For seven decades the living waters of Jesus Christ have flowed forth, from the heart of the ministry of Officers’ Christian Fellowship—innumerable men and women making a kingdom difference by living, loving and working with others throughout the military society.
When commissioned at an OCF bar-pinning ceremony twenty years ago, I was ready to take on the world, but acutely aware I knew little about leadership and military service! Through mistakes and the Lord’s patient refinement, I learned that the Bible is the greatest leadership manual ever written, but we must apply its timeless truths to the circumstances of our lives.
Authentic leadership deals with life's real issues of pain, trauma and suffering while pointing beyond to a life in Christ. As Paul reminds us, our present trials are but a means to an end; particularly for the Christian leader, hope is the final reality of life.
Christian officer, leader—how important is prayer to you? As Christians serving in the military, do we recognize what and for whom we should be praying for in our leadership roles? Godly officers and leaders pray.
Longtime Bible teacher, speaker and friend of OCF, ACCTS and Christian Military Fellowship, Charalambos Nikolaou Tokatloglou (Mr. Tok), went to be with his Lord on 15 December. He was 97.
We’ve been through a lot in our four short years of marriage, but it’s been exciting to look back and see how God has been a part of it all, especially in the last two years. God poured out countless blessings on my husband in the pursuit of his dreams, making it through the arduous training without any major injuries or setbacks. I couldn’t be prouder of him!
A co-worker named Diana is a Gold Star mother. This remarkable woman lost her oldest son to combat action in Iraq, leaving behind a grieving wife, their baby, and other heartbroken relatives and friends. Despite her faith, and the support of family and community friends, Diana’s wounds are profound, constant companions she will likely carry with her until her dying day. By embracing her wounds through the loving embrace of the great Suffering Servant, Diana has become His partner in the lives of others. Still carrying the scars of her wounds, Diana is a visible instrument of God’s healing for others.
Since returning from my tour, I am continually reminded of something I once heard, freedom has a taste to those who have fought for it, and almost died, that the protected will never know. Since the earliest days of our nation, every generation of Americans has answered the call to duty in times of peace and war.
If your military family is a typical one, chances are you have moved about once every two to three years. With the many stresses associated with moving, one of the most difficult decisions can be whether to buy a house or rent one.
We never think it will happen to us, but the reality is that each of us will someday receive our final PCS orders to stand before the Lord. Do you have a spiritual sponsor for that coming day?
There are certain moments in a lifetime you never forget. For me, the memories of formally giving a father’s blessing to my children in person continues to give me joy as I recall each event.
As Christians, we have the privilege of serving the King of kings and Lord of lords. But He also invites us to come aside and just enjoy being His children. That time will stoke the brightness of His light within us and our faces will reflect that glory He gave us! Where’s your refuge?
Go back in time as we explore the places and events, through the lens of Scripture, shaping the most dramatic event in the history of the world-the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
One Christian of distinction, who fought in five wars, was U.S. Army Brigadier General Gustavus Loomis. In Loomis is the ideal balance of Christian faith, devotion to family, and excellence in military service.