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Faith in Uniform


Faith in Uniform

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Assemblies of God Chaplain Lt. Col. Donnette Boyd remembers her first encounter with the U.S. Air Force Chaplain Corps as a young recruit. She found it incredulous that anyone could accept the Bible as the literal Word of God, and, for more than two hours, argued with a chaplain.

“I was like many of the young people coming into the military now,” Boyd says. “I wasn’t raised in the church. I didn’t understand who Jesus is.”

Boyd’s interest was piqued, however. During an overseas deployment, she picked up a Bible and started reading it, beginning with the Book of Genesis.

Boyd attended several church services off the military base, but she felt like an outsider and never became part of a congregation. Then one day she sensed God urging her to make a salvation decision for Christ.

“I went to the base chaplain and said, ‘I’m here to be saved because the Lord told me to get right.’ ”

Shortly after her conversion, Boyd again sensed God prompting her. This time she felt a call to the very ministry she once spurned: military chaplaincy.

Boyd has been a chaplain for 14 years now. As an Assemblies of God chaplain she has ministered around the world, including in Iraq and Afghanistan. She has preached in body armor, read Psalm 91 as bombs exploded nearby, and comforted troops huddled in a flimsy shelter in the midst of a rocket attack.

“Those moments are opportunities for ministry,” Boyd says. “When people are afraid, I can offer hope and encouragement. We’re visible reminders of the holy presence of God in the midst of chaos. That’s why I cherish being a chaplain.”

As a wife and mother of two children, ages 12 and 17, Boyd balances family obligations with her military career and ministry. She says she could never manage without her family’s support and God’s grace.

“My kids are strong in the faith, and my husband and I pursue ministry as a partnership,” Boyd says. “Those things enable me to keep doing what I do.”

Boyd has never felt hindered in ministry because of her gender. She says many soldiers, both male and female, request her for counseling needs because they are more comfortable opening up to a woman with their problems.

The Jamaican-born chaplain views the components of her identity as tools God can use.

“I see barriers as opportunities,” Boyd says. “As a woman, a minority, and a naturalized citizen, I fall into a lot of different categories, but I find those helpful in terms of outreach and ministry. If those things help others identify with me or allow me to connect with someone, so be it. The apostle Paul said he could be all things to all people. That’s what I want to do — so that I might reach some.”

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