Military Emphasis Week highlights chaplaincy opportunities for students
Lauren Pratt | September 07, 2021
One of the unique groups of students that Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) seeks to equip are those serving in military communities. That’s why each fall, SEBTS seeks to highlight opportunities for students to church plant and serve as chaplains on or around military bases.
“The very types of injustices that lead to war at times make the waging of war a moral duty for those who seek justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with their God,” said Mark Liederbach, Vice President for Student Services at SEBTS. “If the Bible’s teachings about human sin are correct, then we can say unequivocally that until sin is gone from the world, neighbor love requires that we seek to restrain the impact of our sinfulness in society by protecting the sanctity of human life. And this will require the use of force. Therefore, we must train biblically, theologically, and ethically sound chaplains to serve and to bring the hope of the gospel to the military service men and women who stand in harm’s way.”
During its 3rd annual Military Emphasis Week Aug. 30-Sept. 3, military chaplains and students gathered together to learn more about opportunities to serve with the North American Mission Board (NAMB) on military bases throughout the country. In addition to this networking opportunity, the Sept. 2 chapel featured retired U.S. Navy Reserve Chaplain and Rear Admiral Endel Lee.
Lee, who also serves as Church Planting Catalyst for Military Communities with NAMB, challenged students to consider their identity as God called and how to respond when God calls them to go. Preaching from 1 Peter 2, Lee exhorted students to consider the question: How did we get from being far from God to those who have “returned to the Shepherd and guardian of our souls” (v. 25). The intricacies of the believer’s identity in Christ and the overflow of obedience that comes from that identity was the key focus of Lee’s sermon.
There are seven identities of a believer that Lee noted in 1 Peter 2, one of them being a bondservant. This idea of being a bondservant to Christ is key in understanding the posture of humility that should exist in every follower of Christ before the Lord. In this humility, we submit to his call on our lives and surrender to the path he lays before us.
“There will be seasonal callings that emerge along your ministry path that correlate with your primary calling as a bondservant,” said Lee, noting that in humility, believers are to submit to God’s call on our lives and surrender to the path he lays before us.
Lee shared with students two key opportunities he missed to minister to people in times of need. These missed ministry moments served as examples for students to capitalize on the call to obey with urgency and not delay.
“If you will follow God and respond to his calling as his called ones and do what he tells you to do when he tells you to do it, the world can be changed. He will do his bidding,” said Lee.
Originally from Tanner, Alabama, Lee was commissioned in 1993 as a U.S. Navy Reserve Chaplain and has served on multiple tours in the Navy Reserve, including F-18 and C-130 Squadrons, Marine Air Group 41, 4th Marine Air Wing; Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 22; and as the 4th Marine Division chaplain, the nation’s largest Marine division. Lee has also served on Operation Guarding Liberty following the September 11 attacks and served with the Naval Special Warfare Development Group as Deputy Command for Operation Enduring Freedom. These are just a few of the many roles and responsibilities Lee has served in during his time in the military, not to mention his active role preaching, pastoring, and seeking to help plant churches in military communities through NAMB.
SEBTS seeks to support its military students by offering scholarships to those who are serving or have previously served. Click here for more information on military scholarships.
For more information about NAMB’s chaplaincy program, visit www.namb.net/chaplaincy/.