I was hoping for one “fun” tour before I retired. By fun, I mean Florida in the winter or maybe 90 days in Germany. I wanted someplace I could take my wife where we could enjoy the Air Force together as my time in service drew to an end. What I got instead was summer in Alabama and the most rewarding ministry of my chaplain career in the Air Force Reserves.
I was assigned to lead a chapel team for Air Force ROTC Field Training. Over the course of 8 weeks, we ministered to over 2000 cadets and staff. Aside from offering weekly chapel services that averaged over 200 in attendance, we embedded ourselves in the daily activities of the cadets, which opened the door to over 800 one-on-one counseling opportunities.
It was there that we saw the hand of God at work as He comforted the grieving, strengthened the weak, and guided the uncertain. He returned many to a faith they had abandoned; others, He brought to a new faith in Christ. The chapel staff ended each day exhausted but also exhilarated at what we saw God do that day.
My tour at Maxwell AFB was a blessing I could never have imagined. I was able to share the Gospel with 80 individual cadets, as they recognized their need for something more than this world could provide. I worked with some of the finest chaplains and NCOs in my career. The leadership, cadre, and staff were phenomenal supporters of the chapel ministry.
What God had planned for the end of my career was far beyond what I could ever have envisioned. I am both humbled and awed that he would grant me such a blessing. I am SO glad I did not get what I was hoping for.
Ch, Lt Col Jeff Cooper USAF
Pastor, First Baptist Church Canby, Minnesota
Venture Church Network Midwest
Join us in thanking God for Chaplain Cooper’s steady, faithful, and fruitful 25 years of Air Guard and Air Force Reserve ministry. Jeff is one of a handful of VCN Chaplains who holds a full-time civilian VCN church pastorate and reserve chaplaincy position. It’s quite a balancing act. Jeff has done it well.
For more stories by and about Venture Churches’ chaplaincy opportunities, military and civilian, visit Chaplaincy – Venture Church Network (venturechurches.org). For endorsement information, email Randy Brandt, Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org.