We asked Jamie a few questions about his journey as well as an upcoming seminar he and the team are hosting around the theme “Forgiven”.
1. How did you come about joining the Army and what is it about the Army that you love?
I joined the Army 30 years ago in 1987 through the Australian Defence Force (ADF) Academy. Prior to this I attended the Hills Christian Life Centre Church and Youth Group. Donna Crouch was one of my youth leaders at the time and I received a prophecy that I should accept an employment opportunity outside of Sydney which I took.
The Army is an amazing place to work where you get to meet people from all walks of life. Defence values of professionalism, loyalty, integrity, courage, initiative and teamwork appeal to me. There are also a wide array of employment opportunities that can be used both here in Australia and on deployment. I was fortunate to be selected as the Australian Contingent Commander in 2006 where I deployed to Sudan for 6 months. This was a great opportunity that I cherish.
2. Why is the MCF such an important part of your involvement in the ADF?
I joined the Army as a Christian and have found that my faith has been crucial in some of the more challenging aspects of my career. It is extremely important to have the support and encouragement of Christians in the sphere that God has called you to. The ADF has a great tradition of having chaplains allocated to units to support the spiritual needs of service men and women. This is also extremely important when service personnel put their lives on the line in the various theatres around the world.
The saying goes, ‘there are no atheists in fox holes’. Service personnel’s mortality is real to them and it great to have Chaplains and Christians in these deployed environments to offer the hope that they have through Jesus.
There is also a thriving lay ministry with the ADF that inspires, encourages and equips service personnel to be salt and light within their workplace which is extremely important as society is becoming more secular. I have been part of the Military Christian Fellowship (MCF) now for over 25 years leading small groups on bases and more recently being the Chairman where I have initiated a National Day of Prayer for Defence and seminars on themes that encourage and motivate military personnel and those who have a heart for the ADF.
3. ADF is a mission field with many unique challenges and opportunities, what would you say is a unique challenge and opportunity our readers might not know about the ADF?
There are 100,000 service personnel plus their families that are part of the ADF mission field. The unique challenges for service personnel are that they are often relocated on postings around Australia or there is potential for them to be away from home on training or on deployment. The opportunity that this presents is that, while they are away from home and their local Church communities, military Christians can meet with each other to read the word and pray together. Those who are not Christians have chaplains to offer spiritual and emotional support in their time of need.
4. The Theme of the MCF seminar is “Forgiven”, is there a story behind why that theme was chosen or what was the thought behind it?
Yes, there are many service personnel who are struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder. There are a variety of reasons for this including seeing things that the human beings are not meant to experience.
I believe that many of their injuries are moral or spiritual injuries that can only be fully healed by God. Once service personnel understand that they can be forgiven by God this gives them freedom to be what God has created them to be.
There are many examples in the Bible such as King David who sinned by committing adultery with Bathsheba and then sent her husband Uriah to the front line of battle to be killed. Despite this David was known as a man after God’s own heart. He kept short accounts with God and wrote Psalm 51 asking for God’s forgiveness. There is also a man named Saul who had an amazing transformation from one who was killing Christians to Paul, the one who was a champion for the cause of Christ. The speakers we have arranged for the seminar include an ex SGT at Arms for a motorcycle gang, who I believe is a modern day equivalent of Paul who has had an amazing transformation, as well as military and ex-military speakers who will encourage us that we can be forgiven through grace and be what God has created us to be in the spheres he has placed us in.
- ADF Chaplaincy & Defense Ministries Info Evening at Sydney Missionary and Bible College (Friday 19 May 2017)
- MCF Seminar 2017 Forgiven (Sat 20th May 2017)