Touching lives with TRUTH at greatest points of need” is more than a motto for the Regular Baptist Chaplaincy Ministries: it is an everyday occurrence. Whether the chaplains are in a holding cell, on the highway, in a hospital room, or in a Humvee, they are touching lives with the truth of God’s Word, either by verbally sharing it or by living it as Peter instructed in 1 Peter 2:12.
A sailor’s tale
On September 20 and 21, 2007, LCDR Robert R. Mitchell, CHC, USN (Ret) visited Baptist Bible College and Seminary (BBC&S) to speak with students about the chaplaincy ministry.
During WWII Mitchell was a young sailor who spent his nineteenth birthday on a landing craft transporting soldiers at Normandy. After the war, he received Christ as Savior and subsequently attended Baptist Bible Seminary, then located in Johnson City, New York. He later pastored a church near Ithaca, New York. Dismayed by the antiwar protesters who often demonstrated in front of the U.S. Navy recruiter’s office, Pastor Mitchell decided to go inside the office to encourage the recruiter, who promptly recruited him to serve as a chaplain. Endorsed by the GARBC, Chaplain Mitchell served first in Vietnam and then in other assignments until he retired in 1985. During his visit to the BBC&S campus, he wore the same uniform he had worn twenty-two years ago, before he retired.
With him during his visit was his wife, Mildred. This is a second marriage for both; their first spouses are with the Lord. Robert was married to Marilyn Mitchell, and Mildred was married to Pastor T. Fred Hussey. Today Robert and Mildred live at Maranatha Village in Sebring, Florida, a retirement village for Regular Baptists.
A few good men
Regular Baptist Chaplaincy Ministries needs a few more good men like Chaplain Mitchell. Recognizing this need, Baptist Bible Seminary developed a Master of Divinity Military Chaplaincy Program three years ago. And for the last two years, BBC&S has sponsored Chaplaincy Emphasis Days. This year during the two-day event, BBC&S raised student awareness of the viability and potential of chaplaincy ministry by hosting various branches of the military and inviting special guests, such as Chaplain Mitchell. Each military branch was encouraged to send recruiters and displays to the campus. As usual, many branches were eager to participate.
Who’s the toughest?
This year the Pennsylvania National Guard not only brought static displays but also set up a climbing wall and landed a Blackhawk helicopter on the campus’s Quad. The U.S. Navy brought in a simulator. Also participating were the U.S. Air Force, the U.S. Marine Corps, the U.S. Army, and the New York Army National Guard. Even though the Navy provides chaplains for the U.S. Marine Corps, a Corps recruiter stated that he appreciates having officers with the values that BBC&S instills in its students.
On Thursday afternoon, college and seminary students were invited to participate in a Ranger PT (physical training) Course. Five teams participated, and Dr. Gary Gromacki’s seminary team won the challenge!
Regular Baptist chaplains
Chaplain (COL) James May, U.S. Army, was the chapel speaker both days, arriving from Germany just in time for dinner our first evening. His chapel presentations challenged the students to be grateful for the sacrifice of men and women through the history of our nation, and to prayerfully contemplate giving back through chaplaincy service.
As the endorser for the GARBC, I am always happy to meet individually with college and seminary students who are considering chaplaincy opportunities. Currently seven chaplain candidates with Regular Baptist Chaplaincy Ministries attend BBS, and several other men are seeking the Lord’s will concerning chaplaincy. I met with one student who feels called, not to chaplaincy, but to firefighting. He is considering joining the military to get specific training and then using his Biblical training in firefighting, where he believes the Lord wants him.
Range of opportunities
While on campus for Chaplaincy Emphasis Days, I was invited to teach two classes, where I presented the different arenas of chaplaincy, paying special attention to community service chaplaincy. This ministry allows pastors and laymen to influence their communities with the message of Jesus Christ on a volunteer basis with police and fire departments, athletic teams, jails, hospitals, and nursing homes. I also shared with several students about the possibility of paid ministry in hospitals, police departments, and corporate America.
Regular Baptist Chaplaincy Ministries is grateful for the chaplain candidates attending seminaries and graduate schools around our country. The preparation is long and arduous, and the challenges are many; but the opportunities and blessings are limitless! It is an honor to serve the King of Kings in the uniform of our military. Please continue to uphold all of our chaplains, chaplain candidates, military personnel, and their families in your prayers.
Chaplain John Murdoch serves at the director of the Regular Baptist Chaplaincy Ministries.