27: For a Lifetime
IN THIS CHAPTER
We hope your OCF participation will extend beyond the few years one spends in uniformed service. We are constantly seeking to connect men and women serving, and who have served, for the rest of their lives according to their gifts and capacities. Once you have connected and met one another, we want you to keep getting together to help stir one another toward effective stewardship to the end of your days.
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SEPARATED OR RETIRED
As a member of OCF, you can participate in this family and fellowship of believers for the rest of your life. When you step away from military service, be sure to ask God where you can impact military lives during your next career or phase of life. Our hope is that for most who have worn the uniform and joined OCF, our member-led ministry will become a lifetime commitment (this may not mean working only within OCF circles). OCF members belong to God, they are citizens of His kingdom, and adopted children of His family.
As a small expression of that family, OCF develops and grows our members so they never stop participating as servants in the church of our Lord Jesus. May you be found participating as a member of your local church, but also as a participant in military ministry wherever you live. You have understanding, skills, language, and stories you can pass on. You can finish strong like Caleb, who said, “And now, behold, the Lord has kept me alive, … I am this day eighty-five years old. I am still as strong today as I was in the day that Moses sent me; my strength now is as my strength was then, for war and for going and coming” (Joshua 14:10-11).
Most people who separate or retire from the military will end up living within driving distance of an ROTC or military service location. If you land near a university with an ROTC unit, pray to see if God would have you invest in the next generation of military leaders there. Consider this work regardless of your service background or the service of the ROTC unit. ROTC fellowship, led by OCF men and women who have worn the uniform, can be their connection to active-duty thinking, preparing cadets and midshipmen to join the ministry of OCF when they hit active duty or lead within guard and reserve units. Christian students long to have mentors who know what it was like to wear the uniform; they want to hear “war stories” of living lives of integrity; and many of them did not grow up studying Scripture. Show them how to do that … and tell stories.
There are some rural areas that make a drive to a military population unreasonable, but in those cases, we can use technology to enable members to mentor other members still in uniform. For a specific case, consider that women in uniform desire to connect with other women who have worn the uniform and will understand some of their situations. Since they cannot always find a similarly minded Christian woman nearby, Christian female veterans can be a blessing even over long-distance. Women can visit the OCF website to look for special events and retreats for women throughout the year.
THE UNIFORMED SERVING YEARS
If you came to faith in Christ after already beginning your time in the military, there is no better time than today to consider how you will spend your remaining years of service. God has so designed you that you are in the right place to impact the military community for the good of others and for the glory of God.
Study Scripture to gain insight about why God created male and female and how the commands He gave them to be fruitful, to multiply, to subdue, and to exercise dominion (Genesis 1:28) might inform your sustained service under authority. Study what God says is true about governing authorities in Romans 13, because every authority is from Him. The Bible puts your service in context. Seek out a mentor who has been in the Christian walk longer than you and who can help you draft a mission or vision statement. If you are married, get your family involved to help you think about why God has you and your household in the military.
WHAT “LIFETIME” MEANS TODAY
You can take practical steps to think about what “OCF for a Lifetime” means to you. Start with prayer, write down your thoughts, and then reread the agreement you made when joining OCF (our Statement of Faith and of Participation). The Statement of Participation says in part,
“As an expression of my commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ and to His work in the military society, I will participate actively and prayerfully in the ministry of OCF with my time, talents, spiritual gifts, and financial resources.”
This expression takes different forms at various phases of life, but since we have agreed to participate actively and prayerfully, the first thing we realize is that it will take time. Ministry requires engaged members who use their giftings and are committed to giving up part of their “free time.” At one period of life, your active participation might mean you are personally facilitating a local Bible study by using your gift of administration or teaching while financially supporting OCF. At other times, you might continue as a financial supporter, praying for OCF’s work, but your talents and gifts are used as a volunteer at one of our conference centers. As the years progress, you may once again have the time, access, or resources to start hosting a fellowship again. Since we rely on member-led ministry work, then every member is critical to engage the lives of those serving in uniform.
We do well to mimic Paul’s end-of-life charge to his son Timothy. “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the Word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry” (2 Timothy 4:1-5, emphasis added).