Chaplain’s wife set to minister to others when he goes to Iraq

Communications Staff — March 26, 2003

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–Lance and Shawna Fadeley know it’s just a matter of time. All within two hours, the phone could ring, the orders could arrive, and Lance could be transported along with several thousand other U.S. troops to the front lines of America’s war on terror.

If and when the call comes, Lance, a 2001 graduate from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, will go to perform his service to God and country as an active-duty chaplain in the 4th Infantry Division from Texas’ Fort Hood. No doubt, his ministry on the battlefield will be challenging. But, the separation and uncertainty for both Lance and Shawna will be even more so.

Shawna doesn’t plan on taking the hardship, loneliness and worry sitting down, though. While her husband is ministering to U.S. Army soldiers, she will be ministering to the Army families left behind.

“Lance loves his job,” said Shawna, who served as executive secretary to the dean of the School of Leadership and Church Ministry while the couple was at the Louisville, Ky., seminary. “God has called him to minister to soldiers. I have peace knowing that Lance is in God’s will. I am scared that when he leaves, it may be the last time I see my husband.

“… [But] I have great support groups here and am looking forward to ministering to those who will be staying here.”

Indeed, the ministry opportunities will be and are plentiful. A primary place of service for Shawna will be her local church.

“They are getting together a support group for families of deployed soldiers,” Shawna said. “… I am excited to be involved in that group. They are also thinking of having a women’s Bible study during the day. I told the pastor I would lead it.”

Shawna will also be involved in ministry on base, where the needs are great among the soldiers’ spouses.

“From the meetings I have been to so far, there seems to be a lot of needs to be met,” Shawna said. “A lot of the ladies are newly married with children and are not Christians. I feel that by getting to know these women by having them over for dinner and taking an interest in their children, a friendship may be formed.

“I am thankful our church wants to be involved with the families, and that will be something I will share with these ladies.”

On base, Shawna is already involved in the battalion’s Family Readiness Group (FRG). FRG is a group of about 55 spouses from Lance’s battalion which meets on a monthly basis. They gather to share news and offer encouragement to each other.

“I would like to get to know these ladies so they can trust me and call on me when their spouse is gone,” Shawna said. “Since I am not working, I would like to watch their children if they need a baby sitter, pray for their specific needs and just be there if they need help with anything.”

She is also participating in the Protestant Women of the Chapel (PWOC) group on base. Each week, this group of 50 women come together for fellowship, testimonies, music and Bible study. Shawna has volunteered to lead a PWOC Bible study, as well as an aerobics class.

“This may be the only day of the week the ladies are doing something for themselves,” she said. “And what a great environment [it is for them] to be around other Christian women and children and learning about the Lord.”

But Shawna’s ministry isn’t limited to church and Ft. Hood. She also has an important ministry at home — to manage the household while Lance is gone.

“I will have to take care of the house [and] lawn and pay the bills,” she said. “For me, this will not be so difficult since I have done these things before. We don’t have any children and that makes it easier to keep up on these tasks. For spouses who just got married — and some people do get married just because their boyfriend or girlfriend is leaving — the household duties may be more difficult since they may have never paid the bills before. They do not know what bills need to be paid, how much is owed, where to send the bills, and they may not know when they are due.”

As challenging as it will be for Shawna at home, the separation from her husband will be the most difficult.

“Lance will not be able to tell me where he is going,” Shawna said. “He may not be able to communicate with me for three months or longer depending on what he is doing.”

For this reason, she knows that her most important ministry to Lance will not be in the home but will be in her prayers.

“I will pray for Lance daily,” she said. “I will pray that he can minister to those around him, that he won’t get discouraged when he comes to the road blocks while he is away. I pray that many will be receptive to him and that God reveals Himself to them.”

She takes comfort that Lance is where a sovereign God has called him to be.

“I am thankful God is in control,” she said. “He will be with Lance.”

And she has faith that God will use Lance in a powerful way.

“God called us back into the Army for such a time as this,” she said. “The military needs good chaplains right now. Many are not called to be there, and some do not preach God’s Word. That is really scary during this uncertain time.”

It is this assurance in God’s providence, love and care that she hopes to share with those other women who are left behind.

“I want to be available to these ladies, whatever their needs entail,” she said.

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