Having recently returned from deployment, Military Chaplain Jim Miller describes his ministry in three themes: nurturing the living, caring for the wounded, and honoring the dead.
Chaplain Miller describes his ministry in three themes: nurturing the living, caring for the wounded, and honoring the dead.
Miller’s responsibilities manifest themselves in a variety of ways under these three headings, but the uniting thread in Miller’s chaplaincy is a calling to the ministry of presence.
Miller occupies his position as an officer by assessing the morale of his men, and advising his peers on elevating it. Miller’s ministry involves counseling men and women in everything from marital strife to suicide prevention, teaching a variety of classes, and–most importantly–living among his parish to improve and protect morale.
The chaplain’s “pay-dirt” is interacting with fellow servicemen, getting to know their passions, grievances, hopes, and dreams across a card table or a Howitzer cannon. These relationships are the foundation of Miller’s opportunity to initiate and cultivate the message of Christ.
The chaplain’s “pay-dirt” is interacting with fellow servicemen, getting to know their passions, grievances, hopes, and dreams across a card table or a Howitzer cannon.
The ministry of reconciliation drives Miller forward in helping men and women know Christ and improve their quality of life. Miller and his wife have hosted soldiers in their house for “copious amounts of food” and plenty of fun, building relationships and giving rest to their guests; but chaplaincy is not all fun and games. Miller walks into draining situations and must maintain his composure. Part of Miller’s ministry includes participating in training exercises, working regimens, eating, and living with the men and women surrounding him. Dangerous situations are regular occurrences in Miller’s calling. On deployment in Afghanistan, he and his team had to remain equally wary of attacks as any other servicemen and women.
The support system among fellow chaplains mitigates the emotional intensity of Miller’s chaplaincy. Community among believers pursuing a common goal keeps Miller grounded. Prayer and conversations with other chaplains remain invaluable support systems which fuel Miller’s work. His wife supports Jim and their family, often embodying both parental roles with their children while Miller is deployed.
One of the greatest privileges given to a military chaplain is the opportunity to honor those who gave their lives in service to the United States. In the past few months, Miller has performed three military funeral services. One of these was for a POW of the Korean War whose remains were finally repatriated to U.S. soil. These somber occasions to honor American heroes are special ministry opportunities for a chaplain. Chaplain Miller counts it a blessing to honor fallen heroes and their families.
Miller’s lifestyle as a military chaplain is a unique, exciting, and rewarding ministry experience. As he fulfills his role with excellence, support is always welcomed. As you pray for chaplains, Chaplain Miller reminds you to direct your prayers toward wisdom and protection as he and his team live out their calling to the military.
As you pray for chaplains, Chaplain Miller reminds you to direct your prayers toward wisdom and protection as he and his team live out their calling to the military.
Marty Phillips is a Staff Writer for Education and Clergy Development. A native of Grand Rapids, Michigan, Marty is finishing up a history and instructional design degree at Indiana Wesleyan University. To read more about Marty and the rest of the ECD Staff Writing team, click here.