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Always Prepared for the Call of Duty



Share This article As a chaplain in the Virginia National Guard, currently serving full-time in Louisiana in response to the 2010 oil spill, Captain Edward Paul knows firsthand: “For the chaplain, every day is Sunday.” Always prepared to provide a sermon upon request, Paul travels with instant access to worship music stored on his laptop, ready to lead at a moment’s notice. Paul is eager to share his knowledge of the gospel message, counsel any in need, and listen compassionately and prayerfully to the grief his fellow troops may bear.

Dave Boisselle, director of military affairs at Regent University, recognized the outstanding character of Paul while he was a student on campus. “Ed will be a great Army chaplain because he truly cares for the troops and their families—no professional, personal or political agendas,” Boisselle comments. When still fresh to the Regent campus himself, Boisselle recalls how Paul offered him considerable support. “Rock steady, team player, evangelistic warrior... passionate and compassionate,” are descriptors Boisselle attributes to him. Paul stood out, contributing in many ways as a student leader in the School of Divinity.

In July 2010, Paul was called to Louisiana to serve military personnel from around the nation during recovery operations for the Deep Water Horizon oil spill. As a part of this effort, Paul has provided religious services, Bible studies and counseling. In the heat of a Louisiana summer, the soldiers welcomed him as he offered a respite from the sweaty work of creating oil-trapping barriers with thousands of feet of boom, designed to prevent the spewing oil from reaching shorelines.

He says, “I love my job. It’s my passion to encourage the troops. To bring the Word of God and share the gospel is my love.” It’s easy for the troops to feel they are going it alone, but Paul’s compassion and understanding communicate that their leaders care about what’s going on with each individual. An air-conditioned building in which a worship service can be put together instantly draws the troops in from the heat and humidity with prayer and singing—and more importantly, provides a time to reflect on their spiritual needs.

Paul’s mission took him from highways to the dusty back roads of the oil spill region, but his ministry to the troops remained steadfast. He says, “I hold worship services when the senior leaders believe it will work with their schedule.” Going to a different site daily, Paul offers the opportunity to provide a service if something hasn’t been arranged. “My busiest week had eight sermons spread over five days,” Paul adds. Though his orders extended from 60 days to the end of the 2010, Paul’s regimen shifted after the oil rig was capped in August. As the military personnel experienced less strenuous schedules, the demand for counseling lessened, though Paul recognizes the ongoing value of his “ministry of presence.”

He notes how his time at Regent prepared him for his life in the field. “My classes helped me prepare for sermon development and counseling. I personally selected five elective counseling classes to help with this part of my role.” Pointing to other positive influences, Paul said the studies in church history and the Bible ably equipped him to answer the multitude of questions the troops ask. “My Regent experience was great,” he reflects.

With an eventual return to Virginia working one or two weekends a month for the National Guard, Paul hopes to remain in the Army Reserves until he retires. Because of a tour of duty in Iraq in 2005 and his recent assignment in Louisiana, Paul knows the potential for giving all. No matter when or where he serves, he is prepared to share his gifts, striving to be content in all circumstances.

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