It is my honour and privilege to make able to announce that I have been offered and accepted a commission with the British Army as a Chaplain to the Forces (CF). I have taken the commission to minister to the Army Reserve (Territorial Army) over the next few years. This will mean in practical terms, that I will continue with my ministry as a pioneer minister in Marton and Coulby Newham but now as part of that I will be assigned to a local Reserve unit and get involved with all that this role will demand and offer.
I have felt the call to minister to the British Army for many years, but every time I have asked God the question if I should explore this call, the timings have just not fit with everything else that is going on. Moving up to Teesside last year I had a conversation with a friend who asked me if I had ever thought of becoming a Padre, I explained that I had but the time and circumstances of full time Army Chaplaincy had never seemed right. “What about the Army Reserve?” he asked. This was something that I had never thought of. So over the past year I have been pushing the door to see if this really was somewhere God was calling me. There have been a number of obstacles to over come along the way, namely fitness, as those of you who know me well my knees are, well shall we say not my strongest point! I received the all clear for both knees and I have also been un-diagnosed with Asthma! When God’s got a plan “Impossible is nothing!”
Talking very early on in the whole process with Becky she told me that she, surprisingly had a real peace about the whole idea, which of course made me think that this call was not just mine but hers as well. The possibility of being deployed on active service is high and one that I will respond to positively if requested. This will obviously have a big impact on family life so I would like to ask for your prayers for both Becky and the children so that if and when this comes round we will be able to face this with the love and strength of God and all those around us.
As the final part of the discernment process on the 10th June I travelled down to Westbury to the Army Officers Selection Board (AOSB) for three days of very highly pressured and intense interviews. Testing my resolve, character, mental, physical, educational and spiritual aptitude. I came out of the other side (just) knowing that I had given my all and that if the answer was no then it was defiantly God saying thank you for being obedient but you are needed elsewhere. That wasn’t the case, I received a phone call on the train coming home to say that they were impressed with how I performed and that they were offering me a commission.
I am at this point, very honoured to be able to be in a position to be able to serve those who serve us in this unique way. I know that I am going to need the wisdom and love of the Holy Spirit to be able to do what is being asked of me over the next stage of this ministry. I have a lot to learn about the Army and those who offer their lives for our security, but I relish the challenge.
Again thank you for your constant love, support and prayers.
Revd Ben (CF)
P.S. I am also dead excited about the new dressing up clothes I get to wear! (with clergy its all about the costumes!)