Recently, I had the opportunity to interview fellow Regent University undergrad Jonah Bryant. Jonah is studying Business at Regent University, and is in the ROTC program out of Old Dominion University.
Seth Connell: How open are you about your faith while in ROTC activity?
Jonah Bryant: In my college ROTC at Old Dominion University, I am open with my faith, but to a degree. I believe that to help someone reach Christianity, we must have a presence that people do not need to ask whether we are Christians or not. The people I talk with at the program know I am a Christian through many things, one is my resistance to cursing, another, which is a simple one, is sharing church stories, not necessarily about a revival but about funny things. Being that most of the ROTC program is not filled with Christians, I have to be sure that I do not make or meet any stereotypes, much as I did in JROTC. I merely showed my cadets that Christians are real people who have a higher calling.
SC: Does your faith affect your military activity?
JB: My military activity is heavily affected by my faith. In Colossians 3:23 we are instructed “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters”. My military service is just that, it is a service, which is how I also view being a Christian, we are serving our God. The verse also tells us to work like we are working for God, by this we must work our hardest, not slacking off or compromising our morals to stay employed. I try to do my very best at all times, whether I am being watched or not, because I am not trying to please my superiors as much as I am God . Also, as I stated earlier, I try to be an example of a good Christian no matter where I go, this includes the military.
SC: Does the new policy put forth by the pentagon suppressing ability to share your faith affect your interest in a military career/service?
JB: Now being a Christian example can never be suppressed. I may not be able to openly share my faith, but I can lead people into asking about it. God can provide doors for me to minster, no matter what man’s laws state. However, God never calls us to minister to those who don’t need it and this new law only gives me a challenge, and I love challenges.
SC: How do military chaplains affect the lives of the troops in combat zones (from what you know)?
JB: Chaplains have a significant impact on the spiritual life of all soldiers. From what I know and from previous experiences, they bring a sense of peace into a place of warfare, or even at home. Most chaplains become mentors and very close to their soldiers. In my experiences I have seen that most people look to God in life threatening situations, most people, Christian or not, pray in turmoil. I believe this to be a natural human instinct to call out to God. With soldiers risking their lives everyday and with their brothers and sisters doing the same and sometimes not surviving, most soldiers wonder why and how they lived. It only makes sense that a chaplain will be there to guide them to God.
SC: Do you feel that your rights are being compromised?
JB: A lot of my rights and privileges that I would have being a civilian are taken away the day I join the military. However I do believe this new law is going to make exercising my faith openly a bit more difficult. However, as stated earlier, I love challenges.
SC: What (in your mind) is the best way to show our leaders that religious freedom is necessary for our country, especially in service?
JB: I honestly do not know what can turn our nation’s leaders around other than being a good Christian example, and of course, an act of God. With more and more of our standards, both in government and socially, being compromised, it is hard to see a turnaround. Sadly I can only remember Americans being united and praying in tragedy, when something bad happens people pray and wonder where God is, some seek Him, however now I am seeing more and more people blaming God for all of the bad things in the world, yet they don’t praise Him for the good He does. In order for a change for the better Christians need to not be fearful about ministry, so many are afraid of even mentioning they are Christian for fear of persecution, when we should really be telling who we are and taking Satan head on. This new law makes this a lot harder for those in the military, however anything is possible with God.
SC: Any last thoughts on this new policy, and/or faith in general in the military?
JB: Overall this new regulation, or law, or whatever people call it, will make things more difficult for ministering to fellow soldiers, marines, airmen, and sailors, however just because something is more difficult doesn’t mean it’s impossible. No one can stop me from sharing my faith because no one can stop me from being a Christian, people will recognize some for being Christians regardless if they openly confess or not, and there is where the door for ministry opens.
Follow Seth Connell on Twitter @theRealConnells.