CHAPLAINS' CORNER: Answering the call to serve God and country

Chaplain (Maj.) Craig Benson stands in front of the base chapel at March Air Reserve Base, April 2.  Chaplain Benson arrived at March ARB last month and is the first of six new Active Guard Reserve chaplains assigned to the most active bases across the United States. (U.S. Air Force Photo/2nd Lt. Zach Anderson)

Chaplain (Maj.) Craig Benson stands in front of the base chapel at March Air Reserve Base, April 2. Chaplain Benson arrived at March ARB last month and is the first of six new Active Guard Reserve chaplains assigned to the most active bases across the United States. (U.S. Air Force Photo/2nd Lt. Zach Anderson)

MARCH AIR RESERVE BASE, Calif. -- I often talk to people about spiritual matters. I enjoy listening to them describe their spiritual journey through life. We learn from each other. Well, now it's my turn.

I was born into the military. My father was in the Air Force and I spent my first 10 years growing up on or near five Air Force bases. After college, I entered the active duty Air Force as a navigator on bomber aircraft. This was definitely a time of growing and testing for me. I gradually gained confidence in my roles as aviator, husband and father, and I also served my faith community through music ministry and as a scripture reader, teacher, service leader and deacon.

It was during my several years as a deacon that I distinctly sensed God's direct call upon me to become a pastor. It was an urge, an inner peace that God gave me. A tug on my heart that never went away.

I responded to God's call with much prayer. It would take a giant leap of faith on my part to leave the security of my Air Force career after eight years of service and then subject my family to the "unknowns" of life as a seminary student. Our trust in God was tested in several ways, but His timely provision for all of our needs (not wants) throughout this journey strengthened our faith!

It was during my seminary training that I first entertained the idea of becoming a military chaplain. I had met several chaplains throughout my military service and I now began to understand the importance of their ministry among the military community.

During my seminary training, I continued to fly in the Air Force Reserve out of Minneapolis. I enjoyed the opportunity to accomplish flying missions around the globe, but my first love had become helping people grow spiritually. Directing military aircraft through the air began to pale in comparison to directing the care of human souls.

In January of 2000, I completed the last step to become an Air Force chaplain. I took the military oath again and was re-commissioned into the Chaplain Corps. I now wear the emblem of the Christian cross above my aviator wings.

My journey through life has had some unplanned turns and detours, but I wouldn't change a thing. Serving as your chaplain is very rewarding! In the words of an ancient, yet wise king, Solomon, "In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps." God truly is the Master Navigator!

Thanks for listening, may God grant you peace on your spiritual journey today!

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