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    Guided by an unseen hand

    Guided by an unseen hand

    Photo By Staff Sgt. Daphney Black | Capt. Frances Igboeli, a battalion chaplain assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters...... read more read more



    Story by Staff Sgt. Daphney Black 

    14th Public Affairs Detachment

    FORT CARSON, Colo. — In a life full of twists and turns, it is crucial to embrace change because there is no single path to happiness.

    Growing up in Umumkpeyi, Nigeria, Capt. Frances Igboeli, a battalion chaplain assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 4th Infantry Division, was always fascinated with literature and languages.

    “I remember being called studious because I like to read,” Igboeli said. “I was interested in other people and cultures around me, and my dad had a federal job that took me outside of my village and my immediate community, so I felt like I had the best of both worlds.”

    As a young adult, she intended to become a teacher —a teacher in literature. She never anticipated becoming a religious leader.

    “I wanted to teach language arts,” said Igboeli. “I never envisioned myself as a religious leader; I never thought that I would be a pastor, a minister, a chaplain, a Soldier.”

    Reflecting on her 11 years as a chaplain, Igboeli knows that her path to becoming a chaplain was no accident.

    “I could see how God had prepared me to be where I am today,” Igboeli said.

    Igboeli, who grew up in a Roman Catholic family, always rejected the idea of becoming a religious leader because there were no female priests and she did not want to become a nun.

    “My father would always say ‘if God calls any one of you, I would never say no,’” she said. “He would say that openly.”

    As the years go, Igboeli became a language arts teacher, teaching students from 9th to 12th grade. At the same time, she would always find herself volunteering, supporting churches in her community.

    “Anywhere that we were ever stationed I would volunteer,” said Igboeli. “I would find a role in a church. Actually I did not find it, it will come up and I would say okay.”

    Her journey started when she volunteered as an intern pastor at a Lutheran church in Lacey, Washington. She wanted to go to the seminary to get a Master’s Degree in Christian Counseling to help with some of the issues going on with people in her church.

    “Some volunteer work that I wanted to do, but I wanted to know exactly when I’m facing a particular crisis how to handle it formally,” said Igboeli. “I wanted that to put in my repertoire in my skill set.”

    In doing so, Igboeli ran into a lot of Army chaplains who tried to recruit her.

    “They started telling me about this ministry opportunity,” she said. “I knew about military chaplains as a military spouse, but it was not any of the services that I utilized. I did not really know in detail what they did until I came across many of them, and we started talking.”

    There was some resistance on her part, but someone whom she considers a mentor told her to pray about it and she did.

    “I prayed about it and then changed my degree to the Masters of Divinity program,” Igboeli said.

    The journey was not easy, but once she made up her mind, she found inner peace.

    “Once I said yes, I want to say that God paved the way,” said Igboeli. “I’m not saying it wasn’t difficult with being married, dual military, being a mom, being a wife, I just don’t count those as a roadblock to the service that God had called me to. I believe that he strongly calls me to this.”

    After completed the academic and religious requirements in 2009, Igboeli commissioned as an Army chaplain.

    “I still believe that I am a teacher in a different way,” said Igboeli.

    Sgt. Arthur Bartlett, a religious affairs specialist assigned to the same unit, was quick to offer praise for the chaplain.

    “Her full-charge attitude is what I admire most about her,” Bartlett said. “When there is something to get done even if it’s not the best situation to be in, even where there are sad situations, she always tries to find the best in them."

    As a qualified leader dedicated to serving Soldiers and their Families, Igboeli understands the importance of diversity. She supports a myriad of personalities, cultures, and faiths. To her, everyone is unique and special in their own way.

    “For instance, Sgt. Bartlett and I do know that he brings a level of technological skill to the (unit ministry team) that I do not have, said Igboeli. “So when it comes to presentation, PowerPoint, and flyers, he is on it. I will get to it, but it takes me much longer as opposed to whatever I bring to the table.”

    According to Igboeli, being a female chaplain brings a certain level of uniqueness to a unit.

    “We (females) tend to nurture,” said Igboeli. “Those nurturing tendencies make us look at things differently. I believe that I can be a positive influence, I bring a compassion that is uniquely mine that will enable me and Soldiers whom I am working with to push through whatever the situation.”

    Igboeli’s unconventional approach is one of the things that stood out to her peers and subordinates.

    “I definitely think that she brought a different aspect to chaplaincy,” Bartlett said. “She doesn’t go about it the traditional way, and at the same time, she gets it. She gets on a Soldier’s level and tries to understand what that Soldier is going through versus saying a prayer and marching on.”

    Igboeli regards her service to be an important part of her life.

    “Unlike other jobs, this is more like two cops on patrol kind of thing,” said Bartlett. “We deal with each other every day; we have each other’s back no matter what is going on. We have to realize when one of us is having a bad day. We have to trust each other — trust is a huge thing in this career field.”

    She recognizes many of the opportunities she has had in the United States were not available to her in her home country.

    “In the military, I am able to exercise those three things: answer God, give back to the community, and make a difference in people’s lives as I have seen in my own life.”

    Igboeli looks to continue be a servant-leader who inspires those around her to be their best selves despite their challenges. Someone who strives daily to maintain the trust and confidence of those around her.



    Date Taken: 03.23.2020
    Date Posted: 03.25.2020 18:28
    Story ID: 365740
    Hometown: SHEBOYGAN, WI, US

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