What comes to mind when you think of the military? The uniforms? Challenging physical demands? Maybe patriotism, long deployments or lifelong camaraderie.
For Maj. Tim Cross, a chaplain out of Fort Bragg, N.C., the military is defined another way, as “a rigorous mission field.” The Billy Graham Library recently provided a refuge away from those rigors and offered spiritual refreshment to Cross and six of his fellow chaplains.
After serving on several military bases across the United States, Maj. Tim Cross knows about the heartache and trauma many people in the armed forces face: the hours away from home, the economic struggles, the stress on marriages, and “the possibility of being here today and somewhere else tomorrow.”
Chaplains need more than their own strength to help their peers through it, he said.
Last month, Cross brought six Fort Bragg chaplains to the Billy Graham Library where the men refocused their minds and hearts on their call to ministry—and on their relationship with Christ.
“Praise God we’ve got to go through the cross to get in there,” Capt. Mike Krog said, referring to the cross-shaped glass entrance to the Library. Krog, from California, has been a chaplain for six years and called the Library visit “a time of edification … of spiritual renewal.”
Cross visited the Library two years ago and knew it would encourage the other chaplains who had never been. The men—all paratroopers who have served overseas—were eager to take the Library’s Journey of Faith tour which documents how God used Billy Graham, the son of a dairy farmer, to reach millions around the world with the Gospel.
“If God can use a simple dairy farmer’s son from North Carolina to do what he did, then what’s holding us back from God using us?” Cross said.
Capt. Krog knew of Billy Graham from his books and televised Crusades, but learned much more about him at the Library. He was particularly encouraged by the way Mr. Graham shared “a simple Gospel in an unashamed way.”
While evangelism is challenging as a military chaplain, he said, he was reminded not to be ashamed of God’s Word.
“The Good News, in and of itself, has a power of its own,” Cross said.
It’s a power that chaplains must rely on in a tough environment, and Cross has seen just how tough it can be. In 2009, he was serving as a chaplain at Fort Hood, Texas, when a shooter opened fire, killing 13 people.
Library historian Wayne Atcheson, who met with the visiting chaplains last month, said they have a hard job, and it’s the Library’s privilege to provide a place where their faith can be renewed. Atcheson himself served in the National Guard and was an assistant chaplain for several years.
“We just have such great appreciation for their commitment to our country,” he said, recalling how Library visitors and staff started clapping when the chaplains walked into the Dairy Bar that day.
Following the chaplains’ Journey of Faith tour, they gathered in a circle for prayer with Library staff. They then took a few hours on the patio to discuss the tour before each chaplain had alone time with God, reflecting on a passage from Joshua 1 about being courageous despite fear.
It was a reminder that time with God isn’t just part of a chaplain’s duty; it’s necessary for individual growth.
“Holy habits can still become habits that cease to speak in our lives like they should,” Cross said. “We need to guard our hearts as ministers, … stay connected to Christ and to each other.”
The Billy Graham Library will host a Military Appreciation Luncheon July 11. Click here for more.
The Library is also celebrating Military Appreciation Month throughout the month of July with a special military display and gift. To learn more, click here.