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Leaving the Army to become a soldier for Christ

By Niel Gould, Bachelor of Ministry (Chaplaincy) student

I grew up in central west NSW, near Dubbo, and was brought up in a loving, Christian family. Being from a small country town, I wanted to escape and explore life so after school finished, I joined the Army straight away.

After spending 12 years in the Army, including serving in Afghanistan for nine months, and a few years of rediscovering my faith, I decided to become an Army Chaplain. Things that I had struggled with throughout my career, I could see others who were serving, often struggling with similar concerns and I wanted to help them and their families, and I could do that best by leaving my current job and returning to serve as a Chaplain.

As part of my application to be a chaplain in the Army, I had to find a place to study. From other chaplains and people from my local church, I had heard that Alphacrucis (AC) University College would be the best place to study a Bachelor of Ministry. Upon enrolling, I decided to specialise in Chaplaincy, which will help me serve people as an Army Chaplain.

While it is often imagined that the main issues service personnel have are a result of deployments to combat fields, there are many other strains on those who serve. Moving to different parts of the country and being posted every couple of years places a huge demand on soldiers and their families.

Additionally, understanding and adapting to Defence culture can be challenging. As an Army chaplain, I’m looking forward to helping soldiers and their families make those adjustments and sitting alongside them as they navigate service life.

After studying for a few years now, it’s been so good to see how to apply my studies to life. “Theology and Psychology” was my favourite subject. It helped me understand how psychology and faith interact and how having even a basic understanding of both can help inform assisting people in different situations. I’ve also been amazed at how well the subjects in my course have complimented each other and the way different AC courses cross over.

Studying with others who are doing the same subject but in a Business, Arts, Leadership, Counselling, Music, or Education course has been great. It’s exciting to know my classmates have all different stories and are going to serve the Lord in a range of ways.

It’s been a privilege to make friends and learn from such talented and godly lecturers.

Some might think I’ve now ended up with a more comfortable position, but chaplaincy isn’t for the faint-hearted. Chaplaincy has a good work-life balance, but it’s a critical role as you are responsible for the well-being of those placed within your care, which in some cases could be high as 1,000 soldiers.

You are the person that soldiers and officers turn to for emotional, mental, and spiritual support and guidance. There are also opportunities to help your unit develop an ethical and moral understanding of issues and their application.

So, chaplaincy is a big responsibility and privilege but it is also really rewarding. If you have a servant heart and a passion for helping people, I’d encourage you to consider it as a potential career.

You don’t have to be a former soldier and I know AC can equip you for this and so many other areas of life. All you need is a passion for sharing Christ and a desire to impact others for good.

Find out how AC can equip you for your passion in ministry, education, counselling, business, chaplaincy, social sciences, leadership and more!

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Source: Eternity News.