Doing the Lord’s Work in the Guard and Spiritual Toughness in the Marines

An article from the Nebraska National Guard details the story of US Army Chaplain (Maj) Tyler Wilterding:

Wilterding is a full-time Baptist pastor in Kearney, but in order to be effective in his mission of offering moral and spiritual support to Soldiers, he must be well versed in multiple religions and denominations including Catholicism, Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism and more…

While the article on Wilterding emphasizes — to a fault — the “generally spiritual” mission of chaplains and the counseling they can provide, it is worth recognizing that a great ministry can come from relationships:

“A lot of times when someone is looking to talk to me, they just want to be heard when dealing with things they are struggling with,” Wilterding said. “I always think about how I would want someone to guide and direct me with care and wisdom.”

Meanwhile, another article talks about US Navy Chaplain (LtCmdr) Jay Weatherwax, a Navy chaplain supporting US Marines aboard the USS Wasp with “workouts and wisdom“:

“The first time I attended Chap’s Fit was out of curiosity. I was immediately hooked by the great workout and camaraderie among the group. No matter how challenging the PT [physical training] session was, I always had the spiritual discussion group to look forward to afterward,” said HN1 Vincent Fernandez, a corpsman with Combat Logistics Battalion 31, 31st MEU.

Similar to the story about Wilterding, Weatherwax’s workouts can provide an excellent opportunity to integrate himself with the lives of his Marines and influence their lives for Christ. Again, though, the article and Weatherwax’s words lean toward the “generally spiritual”:

“It’s important to have a connection – I call it your spiritual WiFi – it’s the connection to something bigger than yourself, whatever that may be. It’s the connection to our values and those we value. And it’s our connection to what is right,” explains Weatherwax to the group of Marines and Sailors.

That’s a fine introduction — but one hopes he eventually finished the discussion on some level with a more clear description of the Truth. There are certainly times in a chaplains ministry when a “gentleness” of the message is warranted (as is the case in all relationships), but it is important not to lose the Message in the effort to be “gentle.”


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