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Winter 2002 Rapport: Basic Training Revival at Ft. Leonard Wood

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Many U.S. soldiers at Ft. Leonard Wood, Mo., are training to fight against stronger enemies than terrorists. They are not fighting against flesh and blood but against principalities of this dark world in spiritual warfare. They are hungry for the truth, and people like AGTS alum Jeff Jay are feeding them the Word as revival sweeps over an Army base that trains over 50,000 soldiers a year. Chaplain (Captain) Jeff Jay is responsible for providing ministry to 1,600 soldiers, officers, and family members at Ft. Leonard Wood.

Soldiers as young as 17, train for an average of 14 weeks in basic training in the U.S. Army and are then sent to other Army bases across the country and the world. As far as the U.S. Army is concerned, after soldiers graduate from basic training, they are ready to fight in any war. They are ready to risk their lives fighting against those who threaten the interests of the United States. They are willing to fight to maintain our country’s freedom.

After the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, D.C., September 11, the U.S. Army took immediate action. “Some soldiers here at Ft. Leonard Wood have lost family members from the Pentagon attack,” said Chaplain Jay. “The day that it happened, I went to all of my units and was able to pray with each person. Everyone cannot help but be affected by this tragedy.”

While many young men and women only sign up for the Army for the free college money, never intending to actually fight, “some may find themselves at war someday,” Jay said, “and that’s a bit of a shock.” The attacks on America have brought “a reality to why we’re training.”

Many soldiers have never had a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. “I have 14 weeks with soldiers to tell them about Jesus and to impact their lives before they leave basic training,” Jay said.

Jay’s impact at Ft. Leonard Wood is clearly evident: Over 500 people saved for the first time, over 1,000 souls rededicated their lives to the Lord, 200 baptized in water, and 24 filled with the Holy Spirit through his ministry over the last year and a half. “Many people have been called into ministry, others have been healed, and still others encouraged to press on through the trials in ways that I could not begin to describe,” Jay said.

His undying devotion to the soldiers goes beyond preaching once a week in a Pentecostal chapel service. Jay and other chaplains are responsible to provide for the religious accommodations of the soldiers and families. “Counseling, special classes, and ministry of presence are critical to chaplaincy ministry,” Jay said. “Chaplains are also officers and as such have responsibilities as adviser to the chain of command concerning morale, morality, and the overall welfare of those within the command.”

“The Post Chaplain instituted ‘family of faith’ worship services to better reflect civilian denominational churches outside military installations. I was designated to run the post Pentecostal chapel services and will continue to do so until I move to another post.”

Since its inception, this service has had a dramatic impact for several reasons. Jay draws nearly 400 people to participate in weekly Bible study and worship services.

“These people come because they know and trust me and see me throughout their training. Second, though everyone is not Pentecostal, they enjoy what we have to offer in a dynamic worship. I have the freedom to preach a strong evangelical, Pentecostal message every week. I take liberty to share in the gifts of the Spirit and encourage others to participate as well. It is not uncommon to see the people out of their seats huddled around the front of the auditorium praying and being prayed for.”

When Jay started preaching in the Pentecostal chapel at Ft. Leonard Wood the pews kept getting fuller each Sunday to a point when 632 people were once squeezed into the chapel that normally only seats 284. Because of fire regulations, the Pentecostal service was forced to move across the street to a movie theater that seats 858 people.

Revival is taking place on U.S. Army posts, and God is pouring out His Spirit on His faithful servants. Jay is up every morning running and praying. Then he goes back to his office and spends time in the Word. He exercises with the soldiers and gains their trust and respect. When soldiers are training in the field, living in tents, and completely isolated from civilization, Chaplain Jay takes the Word to the field.

God has given him favor from the lowest private to the highest commander on his base. He has been asked to give an open-tent revival on the battalion lawn on post. God is pouring out His blessings. This winter Jay will be going to airborne school, and will then be sent to ranger school, the most prestigious school for Army personnel. Out of 300,000 in the U.S., only 5,000 are rangers, and fewer than 20 are active- duty ranger chaplains.

By Sara N. Phillips

Updated: Thursday, August 7, 2003 3:34 PM


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