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Building a Bedrock of Faith

New Air Force chaplain credits her training in Chi Alpha with setting her course.
Jasmin R. Luck believes that she has the coolest job ever. Luck, 27, is a recently commissioned U.S. Air Force endorsed chaplain and ordained Assemblies of God minister. Luck, a captain, is currently stationed at Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan, looking forward to the opportunity to build a spiritual community among the airmen at Kadena.

Military personnel at foreign bases often can’t just visit the local church of their denominational choice down the street, Luck notes.

“Whatever spiritual community is on base is where they go and that’s why it’s so crucial to have strong spiritual communities overseas,” she says. “There are worship services held at churches off base, but often people look first to chapels where they can be around like-minded believers in similar seasons of life.”

Luck understands the value of having a strong spiritual community away from home. As a college student at Arizona State University, she started to wonder if there was more to life than the party culture that surrounded her on campus. Church had always been part of her life — her family attended Assemblies of God and other Pentecostal congregations while she grew up — yet she didn’t have deep roots as a youth.

“I knew that I was called to ministry at age 12, but I didn’t have a strong foundation in my faith until I went to college,” she says. Luck gained the spiritual foundation she needed through Arizona State’s Chi Alpha Campus Ministries chapter.

“Chi Alpha not only gave me the grounding that I needed in my faith, but also as a minister,” Luck says. Through Chi Alpha, Luck received formative discipleship and training that solidified her calling to ministry. In 2015, Luck went on a transformational missions trip to Greece and Macedonia with her Chi Alpha group.

When Luck returned home from the venture, she started to seriously think about her vocational path and possibly attending seminary. Her father, William, who had previously served in the Air Force, also suggested she consider joining the military as a first step to another career. William recommended that she look into becoming a chaplain.

“My dad told me that if I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, I could go into the military to learn leadership skills and then either choose to stay in the military or do something else when I got out,” she says.

Luck took her father’s advice, researching chaplaincy by visiting websites and watching videos. She contacted an Air Force recruiter and asked for more information about the branch’s Chaplain Corps. The recruiter pointed her to the Air Force Chaplain Candidate Program. Luck enrolled in the chaplaincy program and applied to the Master of Divinity program at Assemblies of God Theological Seminary. She gained acceptance into both pro-grams in 2015.

“During her training, she showed extreme discipline in meeting the training requirements,” says Eusebia D. Rios, a retired chaplain major who served as Luck’s training manager in the Chaplain Candidate Program. Chaplain candidates must pursue their Master of Divinity, work toward ordination in their church, and receive military training during their time in the program.

Luck finished in the top 5 percent of her class, which contained 235 chaplain candidates.

“Those in the top 5 percent must do a lot of hard work and be a well-rounded individual,” says the 53-year-old Rios, an AG minister. “They must be highly skilled and have a character that is above reproach.” Finishing so high allowed Luck to complete some of her training at bases overseas: stationed in Guam, England, and South Korea.

“I received a lot of training and experience in the chaplain candidate program that helped me see the need on our overseas bases,” says Luck. Kadena Air Base is her first active duty assignment. One of her goals is to build a strong gospel and contemporary worship community, especially among the younger troops.

Ally Henny

Chicago-based Ally Henny is a writer, speaker, minister, and vice president of The Witness: A Black Christian Collective, an organization committed to encouraging, engaging, and empowering Black Christians. She has her Master of Divinity from Fuller Seminary with an emphasis in race, cultural identity, and reconciliation,