Answering a higher calling through the Army.

I knew that this was what God wanted me to do for Him.

NAME: 2LT Alison Ward
JOB: Chaplain (56A)
DENOMINATION: Assemblies of God

As a child, I grew up in a family that was heavily involved in lay ministry; we were constantly in church. I always suspected that God had called me into the ministry, but I did not know what it was that He wanted me to do. After graduating from a secular university (University of Houston) with my bachelor's degree in English literature, my sister LeyAnne and I decided to attend seminary in obedience to the Lord. We were confident that God would reveal His call to us while we were there, and so we enrolled in Southwestern Assemblies of God University in faith that He would speak to us.

One Sunday, as we were driving to church, I noticed a hospital and, as I was watching it, the word "chaplain" dropped into my spirit. I thought it would be a passing thought, but it would not leave my mind and spirit. When I mentioned it to my mother, her next comment to me was "So, you are thinking about the Army chaplaincy?" That statement intrigued me, and so she and I did a bit of research and discovered the Army Chaplain Candidate Program. Upon reading the testimonials of the other chaplains, I knew that this was what God wanted me to do for Him — minister unto Soldiers and their families, particularly during this time of war.

I was even more delighted to know that my sister LeyAnne also felt that this calling was extended to her, as well! At first she did not want to admit to it, thinking that it would be perceived that she was "stealing" my calling. I, however, did not consider that to be the case. The first four disciples that Jesus chose were brothers — Andrew and Peter, James and John. I look forward to all that God has in store for us in the future as we go forth as ministers for God and country.

Thus began my journey to discovering what it would take to become an Army chaplain candidate and, eventually, a chaplain. From the Army chaplaincy website, I was able to discover that the nearest chaplain recruiters were not too far from my seminary. Many of my questions about the Chaplain Candidate Program were answered after meeting with Chaplain Captain Mark Perkins and Chaplain Major Tim Montgomery — recruiters for the United States Army Chaplain Recruiting Office in Grand Prairie, Texas. The process has been an arduous one (for both myself and my sister, LeyAnne) and there have been many obstacles to overcome. In addition to meeting all of the Army's requirements, I also had to file credentialing paperwork with my denomination, the Assemblies of God, both through the chaplaincy office in Springfield and through our local district office. In a way, I was (and still am) traveling down three roads at the same time — seminary, ordination and the military — but I know that God has everything worked out, and He will give me the grace to make it through this journey.

My sister and I completed Chaplain Initial Military Training and Phase 1 at Chaplain Basic Officers Leadership Course recently at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, and will complete our chaplaincy training — Phases II and III — soon. In addition to this, I will also be doing a practicum there. I am looking forward to the opportunities that such training presents, particularly the opportunity to work alongside a chaplain.