Last week, my family and I had the opportunity to go to the Assemblies of God Military and V/A Chaplain Conference in beautiful Orlando, Florida. The conference allowed Nicole and I to meet fellow military chaplains and their spouses. It really provided us a step into integrating ourselves into the military culture.
During the conference we had breakout sessions, where both the young and the old shared their experiences as chaplains. I was most impressed by the stories told by those who have been deployed once, twice, and some three times. It was heart wrenching the sad stories of people losing their lives, both military and civilian lives. But, it was exciting to hear of the multiple times soldiers were looking for a chaplain in order to receive Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. I guess that being in the face of death causes people to accept the reality of their mortality and humanity; which brings an awareness of the need for a God that has their eternity in His hands.
I had the honor of meeting CH Eddie Cook, he is the soldier in the middle of the above poster with his arms wide open praying for the soldiers around him. I must of embarrassed him when I treated him like a celebrity after calling him the “poster guy” during one of the luncheons. After getting to know more about him through my conversation with him, from other chaplains, and from my wife; I was left awestruck. My wife got to hear his wife during the ladies’ session and read a book she wrote about her husband’s deployment.
The night of the banquet, they had all the new chaplains go to the front to be prayed for. So, Nicole and I went forward and waited for someone to come and pray over us. We felt a hand on our shoulders and could hear the voice of someone praying over us. As I was listening to the prayer that was being spoken over us, I recognized the voice. It was the voice of one our chaplain speakers during the conference. His name is United States Air Force Brigadier General Chaplain Cecil Richardson. I was amazed to be prayed for by a General, but not just any General, he is the Deputy Chief of Chaplains for the USAF. His prayer was that of looking at every move and relocation as an opportunity to minister and to see the glory of God.
After he had prayed for us, we turned around and shook his hand and talked with him for a little while. He gave us words of wisdom and the encouragement of the thrill of being a military chaplain. I couldn’t really pay a lot of attention to him because when he shook my hand he placed a coin in it. It was a challenge coin, which is given for a job well done or for the challenge to do your best. On the one side of the coin it has the one star flag (representative of the one star Brigadier Generals), “Deputy Chief of Chaplains,” and “Glorifying God-Honoring Airmen-Serving All.” On the other side, it has the regiment insignia of the USAF Chaplain Service, with the words “Freedom, Faith, Ministry” and the year MCMXLIX (1944). At first I didn’t understand the deep significance of the coin, but after talking with other chaplains I soon realized that the meaning of the coin is that I am entrusted with the call of God as a military chaplain to do the work of the kingdom of God with all my heart and passion. My desire is to honor CH (BG) Richardson by honoring our King of kings and Lord of lords as a US Army Chaplain.
I am honored to be among humble men and women who serve our country with courage in the midst of war to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ and the hope of the gift of God, eternal life.
For more information about challenge coins, go to http://www.allaboutchallengecoins.com/