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    Prayer Brunch: Unit Highlights Impact Chaplains Have on Soldiers

    Prayer Brunch: Unit Highlights Impact Chaplains Have on Soldiers

    Photo By Maj. Ebony Gay | The 94th Training Division-Force Sustainment Headquarters Chaplain Office held its...... read more read more



    Story by Maj. Ebony Gay 

    94th Training Division-Force Sustainment

    FORT LEE, VA. – For many of our service members, faith is a critical factor that provides aid with overcoming various obstacles that are encountered in life. For military chaplains and chaplain assistants, also known in the Army as Religious Affairs Specialists, one of their core goals is caring for the spiritual well-being of Soldiers and their Families.

    The 94th Training Division-Force Sustainment Headquarters Chaplain Office held its annual prayer brunch at Fort Lee’s 262nd Quartermaster Battalion dining facility on Feb. 10, 2019. Soldiers of the 94th TD-FS gathered for words of inspiration given by Dr. Steven E. Keith, director of the Liberty University Center for Chaplaincy.

    Serving as the Chaplain Endorser of Liberty Baptist Fellowship, endorsing over 400 chaplains to the U.S. Military and former, Chaplain, Col. Steven Keith (USAF Ret.) who served as an Active Duty Air Force Chaplain from 1984-2014; Keith has had his fair share of experience providing spiritual guidance to Soldiers and their Families the past 30 years.

    For Keith, his sermon was inspired by what one will do with their life while here, which he considers an inspiring life thought. “It comes out of James 4:14, life is just a vapor. It appears for a few moments and vanishes away,” said Keith. “It’s inspired me to think more deeply about my life, particularly what best way I can use this short life. I felt lead to challenge others with that same thought to think about how they would use their life for best purposes that God has for them.”

    Keith also shared his desire to pursue a career as a military chaplain. For Keith, God guided him to give his life to him and to serve wholeheartedly. He was also enticed to explore a life of chaplaincy when military personnel informed him of their experience as chaplains for Soldiers.

    “I felt called to minister to military men and women. Several chaplains at my church during my time as a youth pastor also shared with me the wonderful ministry opportunity they had to pastor and to service chaplains in the military,” said Keith. “They had planted some seeds that lead me to explore chaplaincy. God laid on my heart the need that military members have at home, deployed, and around the world to have a chaplain help them spiritually. As a minister, I felt very strongly about that call.”

    Keith goes on, providing his take on the importance of a chaplain’s presence at military units. Keith views individuals as holistic people who are physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional creatures. He also believes that without taking care of the spirituality side of things, the other parts of our being, whether it’s our mind, emotion or body are left without that spiritual infusion, that spirit of God to help us live our daily lives relationally to care for one another.

    “Chaplains bring to the fight the spiritual guidance and the essence and ability to help people serve with one another, to forgive, encourage, and to uplift each other…aspects we want in the military as well as to have faith in one another,” said Keith. “I believe these aspects comes from God which chaplains represent in helping Soldiers be full of faith, trust in God, and trust in each other.”

    “At the heart of it all, God is a God of relationships and chaplains represents that best because we help people have a relationship with God,” said Keith. “We like to say we help bring people to God and God to people. We also try to use God to bring people to each other, to be caring, encouraging people to love one another which in the military setting helps us do our jobs better.”

    Col. Sandra Forrest, 94th TD-FS assistant division commander, presented Keith with a 94th TD-FS coin following the prayer brunch as a token of appreciation for his sermon given to the Soldiers of the 94th. She provided insight into the role that chaplains play in the division and why it’s key to carry out prayer events and chapel services.

    “The importance of these events is that they spiritually fill you so that you’re empowered to deal with whatever comes your way…the challenges of the day especially a very hectic weekend as most battle assembly weekends are,” said Forrest.

    Forrest who regularly attends the division’s chapel service each drill weekend shared how the services impact her. “I look forward to chapel service because it’s my time with God and he knows what’s on my heart and mind,” said Forrest. “He knows my weaknesses and strengths, and I count on him to completely to inspire me to get through the day with all the challenges and stressors that I’ll face along with insecurities that we all encounter.”

    For Forrest, God’s wisdom is a tool that encourages her to complete tasks to the best of her ability throughout the day. “God’s insight also empowers me to aid Soldiers and make the best decisions for the mission,” said Forrest.

    The presence of chaplains at the unit level is having that one-on-one communication with the Soldiers which is one of the most significant factors to aiding them, for Forrest. “They can lend that listening ear in the event a Soldier is enduring difficulties. The Soldier knows that the chaplain is a reliable source to convey their challenges,” said Forrest. “They can also provide advice and pray with and for the Soldier as an additional means of aid and comfort.”

    Chaplain Candidate, 1Lt. Norica Vernon, a staff member of 94th TD-FS headquarters chaplain section and Liberty University student pursuing a Masters of Divinity with a concentration of Military Chaplaincy, aided with the coordination of the division’s prayer brunch.

    Vernon shared what went into coordinating the prayer brunch. “This is our second prayer brunch which was a team effort coordinated by our section,” said Vernon. “I was asked to take the lead on finding a guest speaker, and I thought Dr. Keith would be a good fit to speak at this year’s prayer brunch.”

    For Vernon, the annual prayer brunch is essential because the event allows the Soldiers of the 94th to come together to focus on the spiritual aspect of the development of the unit and as well as show that the chaplain section does care about the Soldiers at the unit. Hosting the event also gives the chaplain section a voice within the division, Vernon added.

    “I’m glad that the division is so open and supportive of the chaplain section. It makes our job a lot easier,” said Vernon.



    Date Taken: 04.06.2019
    Date Posted: 04.06.2019 05:28
    Story ID: 317172
    Location: FORT LEE, VA, US 
    Hometown: FORT LEE, VA, US

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