Richard M. Dickinson
Imagine that you are not certain of a loved one’s spiritual condition. When they come to mind, you pray that, more than anything else, they would come to know Christ—or rather, to be known by him and experience the strength and sweetness of his life and love. Now imagine that your loved one’s vocation regularly exposes them to real danger. When they go to work, they are likely running toward life-threatening events, so that others may survive and live.
Whether a firefighter, a law enforcement officer, a paramedic, a soldier, a sailor, an airman, or a marine, service personnel see things, hear things, and do things (and fail to do things!) that weigh heavy on their hearts, minds, and spirits.
Wouldn’t you be thankful to God for a gospel minister who is trained and equipped to come alongside your loved one with a listening ear, an understanding heart, and the healing balm of God’s covenant love and faithfulness? Wouldn’t it be an answer to your prayers for your unsaved loved one to come through “the nightmare” as one redeemed by sovereign grace and comforted by sovereign love, so that they live out their days with an eternal song of gratitude upon their lips?
It is the privilege and calling of OP ministers who are chaplains to be instruments in the hands of the Redeemer in challenging mission fields like these. Yet many labor in an environment far removed from the institutional church. Our commitment to biblical principles of accountability obligates our presbyteries to redouble their efforts to maintain contact with their ministers who are chaplains. Many, if not most, labor in isolation from a godly session and in an environment of religious diversity and moral ambiguity. How can we support them best?
Prayer is always our first order of business in relationship to one another. As brothers and sisters who care about our chaplains, we can pray:
OP members can also correspond and communicate with chaplains. A letter, e-mail, phone-call, or visit is a practical way of saying, “I am thankful for you and all that you do.”
The ministers and other elders who assemble and serve the regional church within the geography of their presbytery should be especially diligent to:
The Committee on Chaplains and Military Personnel serves the Savior and his church and answers to general assembly. The committee currently has a combined 155 years of military service spanning each of the branches of the military. This wealth speaks to the its ability to provide counsel on matters involving OP chaplains, the chaplain corps of our military services, and military personnel in general. Please keep all the members of this committee and those they serve in your prayers as we desire to excel in fulfilling our mandates in ways that are honoring to God, healthful for his servants, and beneficial for all.
The author is an OP minister and chairman of the Committee on Chaplains and Military Personnel. New Horizons, February 2020.