Change of Mission: When Two Doors Open Simultaneously

By Chaplain Joshua Van Vlack, Oregon National Guard / Canyon Bible Fellowship, Lyons, Oregon

Solomon wrote, “The mind of a man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.” Proverbs 16:9.


I know that typically we send in updates quarterly for active and semi-annually for reserve chaplains; however, I wanted to let you know what has been going on with my wife and me over the last few months.

As you are aware, I was called to be the pastor at Canyon Bible Fellowship (CBF) in Lyons, Oregon back in March, and shortly thereafter I was notified that I would be deploying to the Middle East later this year. The church received the news of the deployment surprisingly well. There was an initial shock, understandably. However, we have been reminded, as a church, that God is the one who called us together. If He is the one who brought Karen and me to CBF, then He is in this deployment as well. The response from the church has been an absolute blessing. The deaconesses approached me about the planning of my installation service after the notification.

Much has happened since then. Last month, I began drilling with my new battalion, 2-218 Field Artillery. Their headquarters is in Forest Grove, OR, which is a city that is quite out of the way. I have one company in McMinnville, and two up by the Portland Airport. Living in Keizer, this makes for a lot of driving to get some “battlefield circulation”* each month. I have a battalion commander who had requested me for this mission and a staff that is glad to finally have a chaplain after being without one for a couple of years. So far, the adjustment to my new unit has been very positive, and I am eager to see what the Lord will do over the next year.

One of the things that became a priority for Karen and me is moving from Keizer to Lyons. Initially, we were going to wait until after the deployment rather than deal with the stress of moving prior to the deployment; however, one of the biggest needs of the church is for stability, and we believed that we needed to communicate our commitment to the congregation in a very tangible way. So, over the last couple of months we have been in the process of putting our home on the market and looking for a new place at the same time. Even in this, God has seemed to bless. God has providentially led us to a real estate agent and a mortgage broker who are Christians. Both have gone out of their way to help us out. We now have an offer on a house in Lyons and have accepted an offer on our home in Keizer. If all goes well, we will close on both homes next week and be moving into our new home over Father’s Day weekend.

Last month, I had the privilege of speaking at a men’s breakfast at a church in Keizer. I spoke on the topic “Change of Mission,” and my key verse was Proverbs 16:9. Solomon wrote, “The mind of a man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.” I’ve discovered that, in many ways, being a Christian is like being a battalion staff officer. We plan various courses of action based on events and situations as we understand them; however, we submit those plans to our Commander for approval, understanding that the mission we are executing is His and not ours. Like any good commander, He can bless off on the plans, modify the plans, or present an entirely different plan, since He has a perspective that we do not have. Even though we may not always understand why the mission gets changed, we can trust Who is changing the mission, because, again, it is His mission and not ours.

For Prayer

  • Please be praying for my little church in Lyons. They have endured a tremendous amount of conflict over the last couple of years. The church is a bit like Jerusalem in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah. Please be praying that God will bring about the healing and reconciliation they need as we seek to rebuild the temple and walls, so to speak.
  • Please pray for Karen and me as we transition from Keizer to Lyons. Pray that the move will go smoothly and that our church will continue to see our commitment to them.
  • Pray for the search for an interim to fill in while I am gone. We have someone in mind who has filled a similar role several years ago for a deploying pastor in a different church and different state.
  • Pray for Karen and me as we prepare for the deployment over the next several months.
  • Pray as well for the soldiers of 2-218 as we prepare for the upcoming deployment. Pray that God will open the doors of ministry for me, that I will have the wisdom and insight to be able to serve effectively in the ministry to which God has called me. Pray that I might see the fruit of gospel ministry with these soldiers. I would love to be able to see soldiers give their hearts and lives over to Jesus Christ, to see the Holy Spirit move in the lives of soldiers in the middle of a Muslim country.


Joshua Van Vlack

Chaplain, 2-218 FA

Pastor, Canyon Bible Fellowship

*Note: “Battlefield Circulation” – Military term describing intentional travel throughout an area of responsibility.  In this case, it denotes a chaplain planning and making regularly scheduled and emergency visits to those in units under his pastoral care.

Chaplain Andy writes:

Joshua gave me permission to share this letter with our CBAmerica family.  Rather than second-guess God’s timing of these two seeming mutually exclusive events, Joshua and Karen remain firm to both church and military commitments.  Join me in praying this couple, this church and this unit through the upcoming deployment.  Only God can make everything work out to His Glory!

For more stories by and about CBAmerica chaplains, check out our webpage at For more information on endorsement for chaplaincy, military and civilian, contact Andy Meverden at .