Rev. Haydn Lea – Testimony from an Australian Defence Force Chaplain
In 2011, I was a keen young Air Force troop serving with the Army in Afghanistan. I was also a relatively new Christian, clinging hold to my faith in an understandably challenging environment. We had a number of fatalities that year, and tensions were often high. To my surprise, many of these older, experienced soldiers saw me reading the Bible every day and sought me out for spiritual advice amidst the chaos. Before I knew it, I was the ‘go-to guy’ for spiritual support. Imagine, a 21-year-old Air Force kid ministering to these battle-hardened veterans! As I soon came to realise, this was actually the start of God calling me into a remarkable life of ministry.
So hello, my name is Reverend Haydn Lea and I am now an Australian Defence Force (ADF) Chaplain.
Many people may not be aware of this, but all three services of the ADF (Army, Navy and Air Force) have fully qualified and recognised ministers serving in both full and part-time roles. In fact, there are several Baptist ministers serving the ADF as Chaplains here in Adelaide.
So who are Chaplains? As previously mentioned, Chaplains are fully qualified civilian ministers (pastors, priests, reverends, or equivalent), whilst also commissioned officers in an individual branch of the ADF. They are therefore uniquely placed to minister to the needs of defence members and their families, regardless of the member’s spiritual convictions. This means that our Chaplains have opportunities to minister to people who might never walk into a church in their life.
As ministers, Chaplains are involved in a wide range of spiritual roles. These include praying with members, helping people find suitable faith group communities, conducting Bible studies and chapel services, supporting people on their own faith journey (something that was instrumental in my own conversion), preparing couples for marriage, conducting marriages, baptisms and funerals, and conducting services such as ANZAC Day or memorials.
However, many members of the ADF are not Christian, so there is also a large number of pastoral roles Chaplains conduct. This includes providing care and support to all personnel, advising command on morale and welfare issues, engaging in physical training, mental health support, helping with character development and advocating for members in workplace issues. This is largely achieved through relationship building and participating in the everyday work of the ADF, including presence in the office, warehouses, hangars, barracks, ships, aircrafts, vehicles, field, or even the deployed environment.
So ADF Chaplaincy is a unique, exciting, challenging and incredibly rewarding ministry opportunity. As a young atheist troop, I was blessed by the indelible and powerful impact Chaplains had on me. Now as a Chaplain myself, I consider it a constant blessing to be able to serve and bless the women and men of the ADF and point them to Christ through word and deed.
The ADF is seeking women and men to join as Chaplains in a permanent or part-time capacity. So if you are a pastor, priest, minister or equivalent and think that God may be calling you into an exciting alternative ministry for you, please email email@example.com, or visit defencejobs.gov.au. There will also be an information night at Keswick Barracks on 15 October 2019.