10 Curious Questions Asked to an Army Chaplain

FB_IMG_1433118508491Over the course of my 26 years in the military, I have been asked some interesting questions. Often times these are nagging questions young soldiers have had since their first visit to a church, youth group or long adult service. I accepted Christ in January of 1989, and joined the Army August of 1989. Therefore my entire 26 year career has been served with me being a Christian. I did not become a Chaplain until 2001, in the Reserves and then crossed over to the dark side in 2003, as an Active Duty Chaplain. I have always had opportunities to share my faith while serving in uniform because people come to me and engage me. If you do that, you will hear about Jesus, my testimony, my kid’s faith, the faith of my wife and so on. I will draw in the Gospel somewhere in our conversation. If you are really crass, I may wait until our second or third conversation but certainly by then I would have prayed enough for you that the door would be standing wide open for me to share my faith with you.

Since what I have just shared is true for me, I thought it a good idea to share with you all some of the interesting questions people have asked me to test the waters to see if I was a safe person they could talk with. Here are some samples starting from 10 like a late night count down:

10. Soldier: “Did Adam and Eve have belly buttons?” Chaplain: “No! They were created beings who represented a specific developmental age (child bearing age). Therefore, they were not born as you and I are born and could not possibly have belly buttons since they never experienced vaginal birth.”

9. Soldier: “Does killing in war send me to hell?” Chaplain: “No! There is a clear Biblical difference between killing in war and murder. However, even murder is pardonable but only so by God. When killing in war as long as you are following orders, defending yourself, defending your fellow soldiers or defending innocents you are covered by the nation you serve and the oath you have taken.” (Romans 13:1-7)

8. Soldier: “Creation vs. Evolution?” Chaplain: “Creation! I do not side with Creation/Evolutionists who believe that God used evolution to fulfill His will and I do not side with young earth theorists per se. I see two things clearly in scripture that must be addressed by both camps in order for us to have a reasonable conversation: 1. Catastrophe and Natural disasters have a way of “creating” things in ways that according to evolution would take millions of years but when observed in catastrophe or disaster form in three months or less (i.e. Islands, stalactites and stalagmites, and oil to name a few) 2. The “With Age Theory” is practically ignored by both camps because it is not exciting but if the Bible is to be applied correctly, everything that was created was created with age. Specifically, everything was created to reproduce or with almost immediate ability to impregnate. Who then is to say that God did not use this method with outer space, specifically the sun-moon-stars and so on? These observations on my part cause a reasonable doubt in both theories and must be addressed.”

7. Soldier: “The church is full of hypocrites!” Chaplain: “Who is more hypocritical? The person going to the one place often that can help them with their problem or the person who knows and observes the problem but does not seek help?” Usually this is a passing comment by a Soldier who has been hurt in some way by the church. Later, I help them understand that the church is made of people who are often times just as lost as a person who does not attend. The likelihood of getting hurt in such an environment is very high. Therefore, strong Christ centered leadership is needed now more than ever.

soldiers-praying6. Soldier: “What about all the other faiths, are they wrong?” Chaplain: “Most man made religions have a majority of the Ten Commandments in common. In fact, there are writings that contain much of the Ten Commandments which predate God giving the commandments to Moses. What we may learn from this is that God has been at work in other governments and societies well prior to Israel becoming a nation. Israel did not think up God. God called out Israel but sanctifying Abraham as the father of not only that nation but the religions of Christianity and Islam as well. One major difference in all other religions and Christianity is that of relationship and direction. All religions with the exception of Christianity strive to discover or find God. In Christianity, God finds us and desires a relationship with us. This one concept is so revolutionary that it sets Christianity apart from every other religion in the world. So, it is not that God isn’t or cannot work through other religions. It is that directionally, their efforts will never attain what they strive for. Again, Abraham is our example. He was a pagan idol maker when God called him out of that way of life and belief and commissioned him to build a nation from a different perspective. In other words, nothing Abraham could have done as a pagan would have brought him closer to God. It was only when God sought him that Abraham was brought closer to God.

5. Soldier: “Is the Bible infallible and does truth really exist?” Chaplain: “This is a question of the relevance of the Holy Spirit. When God speaks, the words that come out of His mouth are Jesus. The power or breath by which they come is the Holy Spirit. When we doubt God’s Word we misunderstand the purpose of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Isaiah 11:1-5, John 1:1-2 and many others)

4. Soldier: “Do Heaven and Hell really exist?” Chaplain: “Let me ask you a question, do you believe good and evil exist?” Soldier: Ummm, Yes! (Sometimes I have to give examples but almost 10/10 they say yes) Chaplain: “If good and evil exist which are the inner most means, then the outer most extremes exist as well and our understanding of those extremes are Heaven and Hell.”

3. Soldier: “You know how it is, you were raised in church!” Chaplain: This is usually stated by a Soldier when they are fishing for information about me but make the mistake of assuming I was raised in the church. “Actually, no I was not. I had a very difficult childhood which involved kidnapping, drugs, sexual abuse and going to five different schools in a 7 year period.” Soldier: “Oh, I didn’t know that about you.” Opens the door every time to my testimony.

2. Soldier: “Can you teach us Revelations?” Chaplain: “If by Revelations you mean the book of Revelation then yes. However, I prefer to teach the concept of God revealing Himself to mankind first then end with us exploring the book if His Revelation.” Oddly, these presentations every time I do them and I do them often, draw every type of Soldier you can imagine from the Atheist to the Pagan to the Agnostic to the devout non-Christian faiths to Christians. In 2005, from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day I taught a Bible Study on Revelation and how God reveals Himself to mankind. My commander attended and demanded that we meet twice a week. Our schedule with missions was crazy busy during that time but he insisted. During the time frame above we had 185 Soldiers in our unit attend and another 20-30 who stood outside trying to act like they were not listening. By the way, our unit only had 575 Soldiers. Awesome!

Despite dangers, unit morale high in Kandahar1. Soldier: “Where did Cain’s wife come from?” Chaplain: “Genesis 5:3-5, ‘When Adam had lived 130 years, he had a son in his own likeness, in his own image; and he named him Seth. After Seth was born, Adam lived 800 years and had other sons and daughters. Altogether, Adam lived a total of 930 years, and then he died.’ Adam and Eve had son and daughters. The only example they would have had of relationship was each other. It is completely within reason that Cain married either one of his younger sisters or one of the daughters of Seth. Incest, was not seen as wrong until the time of Moses. Do not understand this as me supporting incest. I strongly do not for the reasons outlined by God to Moses.”

Honorable Mention

Soldier: “What about dinosaurs?” Chaplain: “The word Dinosaur is a word taken from two Greek words that mean giant lizard. In the first chapter of Genesis we see a reference to “great beasts” that God created. What were these? I do not know! However, I do know that a reptile keeps growing until it dies and that it continues to grow according to its environment. I also know that the oldest man in the Bible was 969 years old and his name was Methuselah. If we give the Bible writers the benefit of the doubt and simple round down to 900 and take into consideration that today we live to nearly 90 years old and couple that with the current life span of say a crocodile which lives to be 30 years old today. By simple math of solving for “X” we can safely determine that crocodiles in Methuselah’s day lived to be 300 years old. I don’t know about you but that sounds like a great beast or what people in the 1800s began to call a dinosaur.”

I share these things with you to show you how conversations usually come about between me and soldiers. They also come about through discussions of events, loss of life, leadership and many other ways. What I have shared here are ways that soldiers sometimes come to me and the questions they have asked over the years. They are in my top ten and honorable mention because I get these questions everywhere I go. I have even taught entire Bible studies on these topics and briefed high ranking officers on these very same questions. In the end, they are just an inroad for me to share Christ on a deeper level. Certainly these are not the depth of questions we have in life. Certainly our wonder and apprehension do not stop at this top ten. Hopefully, we are pursuing God until He catches us and seeking the really deep questions of God no matter where we are in our walk with Him.

“I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me.” Proverbs 8:17

Mijikai Mason
Disclaimer: The thoughts and views published on the Veterans to Christ blog are those of Mijikai Mason and in no way are meant to represent the United States Army or the Armed Forces.

Bio: Mijikai Mason is an Ordained Southern Baptist minister and Chaplain in the United States Army. He has been in the Army for 26 years both as an enlisted Soldier and now as an Officer. He has been stationed at various bases in the United States and in United States Army Garrison Schweinfurt, Germany. He holds an undergraduate degree in Religion from the University of Mobile, a Master of Divinity degree from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary in Theology and Evangelism and a Master of Arts degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Webster University. Chaplain (MAJ) Mijikai Mason was selected by the Army in 2013, to become a Family Life Chaplain and began his service in this field starting 15 May 2015. He is the Deputy ESC Chaplain and Family Life Chaplain for the 593 Expeditionary Support Command at Joint Base Lewis McCord. He has deployed four times: Desert Storm (1991), Iraq twice (2005-2006; 2007-2008), and Afghanistan (2012-2013). He has a total of 42 months deployed in combat and logistics operations. Mijikai and his wife, Ashley, have been married for 17 years this May and live near Joint Base Lewis McChord, Washington with their four daughters.