The arrival of the COVID-related shutdowns during the spring of 2020 brought an end to both conference centers’ plans for their normal summer programs and events. Nonetheless, both locations have overcome many of the challenges the pandemic has created.
What parables has God given to you through the simple circumstances of your life that you can share with others? Too often Christians do not share with others what God is teaching them and doing in their lives, things that can encourage other believers and make them sensitive to God’s moving in the world—and even in their own lives.
The following stories are not just accounts of people who endured the process of rediscovering their identity in Christ, but they are also stories of a heavenly Father who loves his children enough to show them a far more abundant life.
We can know pure joy in our struggles when we allow God to do His work in us. He gives and takes away as He works in and through us and this broken world that we may know and trust Him.
May a Christian serve in the military? When it comes to taking the life of an enemy combatant, how does someone reconcile that with Jesus’s command to love your enemy and to pray for him? COL Chet Arnold, USMC (Ret.), joins me to answer those questions and more, coming up on episode 46.
Have you ever thought about what it means to be a good steward of your time? Maybe you can recall getting to the end of a day and thinking, “Why did I waste so much time?” Joining me on the show to talk about time stewardship is LTC Gil Jacobs, USA (Ret.).
Jeff Struecker's book, "The Road to Unafraid," is the centerpiece for today's conversation. Although several perspectives or themes can be found in the book, Jeff and I focused on trusting in God. In the face of fear and uncertainty at certain times throughout his life, I asked Jeff to talk about how God asked Jeff to trust Him and what that looked like in his life, particularly his military career.
Michelle Qureshi's story of military life at the intersection of faith, family, and profession is one that deals with such topics as stress, hardship, and discouragement, but more importantly, it’s a story of how she has experienced what she calls “incredible hope amidst suffering.”
In this episode, Crosspoint host Josh Jackson chats with pastor and author Chris Plekenpol, who recounts an incident with a suicide bomber in Iraq and also talks about God's word, God's spirit, God's people... finding God's will.
In this episode, pastor and author Dr. Gary Phillips discusses a topic he has titled “Basic Training for the Family: Biblical Principles for Navigating Cultural Minefields.”
Whether you’re in the group who has never heard of the Great Commission, or if you know the Great Commission backwards and forwards—while reading it in Greek—stick with us today as our guest, CH LTC Dan Holcomb, USA (Ret.), talks about how the Great Commission relates to what he calls “Disciplines of a Warrior.”
In this episode, Chaplain Bill Appleton is going to focus on the life of Nehemiah and the leadership qualities we need to pay attention to today, and he'll also share the story of how he became a Christian.
Major Will MacKenzie and Major Derek Brown, USA, discuss several topics during their conversation with LTC Colin Wooten, USA.—friendship, being a Christian in the military and killing an enemy combatant, serving in the military as Christians, and what it means to actively live out your faith and integrate your faith in all areas of life.
Today's guest is LTC Todd Plotner, USA (Ret.), who wrote an article titled “Four Lessons In Leadership for Young Warriors” back in 2013. We'll take a deeper dive into the points he made in that article.
Here to discuss OCF's 75 years are a special round-table panel of guests: Brigadier General David Warner, USAF (Ret.), Lieutenant Colonel Kate Toms, USAF, Lieutenant Colonel Colin Wooten, USA (Ret.), and Captain Dan Abney, USMC.
What does scripture say about addiction? Can a Christian have an addiction? What does a biblical approach to recovery look like? Isn't Jesus enough? Our guest is Dr. John Thorington—a licensed professional counselor and is also certified as a Sexual Recovery Therapist by the American Association of Sex Addiction Therapy.
What comes to mind when you hear “Acts of Service?” How about “Words of Affirmation” or “Quality Time?” You might recognize them as 3 of the 5 love languages from the popular book first written by Dr. Gary Chapman back in 1995. In this episode, OCF managing editor Karen Fliedner chats with Jocelyn Green about Finding Your Love Language…at the intersection of faith, family, and profession.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.