By Chaplain (1LT) Sarah Seda, United States Army Reserves
My journey to the Army Chaplain Corps began when I was finishing my Bachelor of Science degree at John Jay College back in 2014. I began to feel the call to ministry in the military setting and began to research the job of a chaplain with all the required qualifications. To be honest, when I saw the list I was overwhelmed. The amount of schooling along with the process of ordination proved to me that this would be no ordinary job.
I discovered that if I were enrolled full time in seminary, I would be able to participate in the Chaplain Candidate Program. This program is offered through both the Reserve and National Guard components of all branches of the military and provides an opportunity to train under a military chaplain while attending seminary. Wow! What better way to see if this was really for me?
I pursued the Chaplain Candidate Program in the United States Army Reserve and was accepted in the summer of 2015. From 2015-2020, I was able to attend the Chaplain Basic Officer Leadership Course, train under a battalion chaplain, and take part in two practicums. In all these trainings I was able to conduct worship services, preach and teach, counsel, provide worship opportunities for other faith groups, and conduct some ministry of presence. In five years, I learned how to reach others from different faith groups and backgrounds, build relationships with them, and even invite them to attend some Protestant services.
My mother always told me that the only Jesus people will know is the Jesus you show them. This has proven to be a key factor in my success as a chaplain candidate. In June 2020, I was able to reach accession as a chaplain and am now awaiting orders to go to a different unit. Taking that step of faith and becoming a chaplain candidate has proven to be a blessing in my life. I have had the opportunity to minister to soldiers from various backgrounds, and even if I never see the fruit of my labor, I know God is working in their hearts.
Chaplain (Col.) Robert Terry Meek (Ret), Director of Open Bible’s Chaplain Ministries, said, “Sarah Seda has done an incredible job juggling the demands of work and school. Even with all the demands put on her with her job and school she never lost the vision that God put before her. Jeremiah 29:11 perfectly sums up God’s desire for our lives:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord.
“God has a plan for each and every one of us,” Meek added. “We are only called to be faithful to the calling and vision set before us and the Lord will carry us through providing the means and the road signs along the journey. I am profoundly humbled and in awe of what God is doing through our chaplains in our organization and of their tenacity in accomplishing His calling.”