OCF Crosspoint is a production of Officers' Christian Fellowship and is dedicated to sharing stories of military life at the intersection of faith, family & profession. Some stories will be informational, educational, inspirational...or maybe all three. OCF's vision is the military community positively impacted through Christ-like leaders. OCF engages military leaders in Biblical fellowship and growth to equip them for Christ-like service at the intersection of faith, family, and profession. For more information, visit the OCF website at www.ocfusa.org.
How to see past the barriers and share your story
What keeps you from sharing your faith with others? I sat down with Capt Ryan McCary, ANG, to talk about this question and others. Ryan shares his own story of growing up in a missionary family, joining AFROTC at the University of Central Florida, and debating between military service and vocational ministry. He recounts his own failures to share his faith and how the Lord changed Him through those experiences, then he offers practical steps on how to be bold in your faith today.
Ryan also hosts his own podcast. Check out his MIL SPEC Believer podcast and follow him on Instagram (@mil_spec_believer) to stay connected with Ryan as he continues the conversation about being a Christian in the military.
If you have an idea for a guest, topic, or story that I should consider for a future episode of the show, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit OCF’s new “Be a Guest” webpage.
As you listen to this conversation with Ryan, here are a few questions to ponder in your personal time or with a small group or mentor:
How would you define a “testimony”? When was a time you saw the Lord work through someone sharing their testimony, and why was it so impactful? How do you stay “prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have,” as 1 Peter 3:15 exhorts? What’s the value of not only reflecting on your story but sharing it as well? Can God use failure both in your individual story and His bigger story? What practical step can you take to be bold for Christ and share the story He’s given you?
One Marine's Journey to Live for God, Family, Country, and Corps
I interviewed Maj Chris Reardon, USMC, who shares his testimony as well as his experiences with integrating faith and profession. For some people, that can perhaps be an ambiguous topic. What exactly does it mean to integrate faith and profession? Chris unpacks what that looks like for him as a Marine and shares some practical application.
In the spirit of the topic, Chris also talks about his nonprofit called Freedom Fitness America, a fusion of fitness and faith, as a means of integrating his faith and profession and helping others do the same.
This conversation with Chris kicks off the third season of OCF Crosspoint, and don’t miss the episodes to come in the months ahead. If you have an idea for a guest, topic, or story that I should consider for a future episode of the show, send an email to email@example.com or visit OCF’s new “Be a Guest” webpage.
Places to find FFA online:
Website: https://freedomfitnessamerica.org Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/freedomfitnessamerica Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/fit4thefightlife LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/freedom-fitness-america/ LinkedIn Personal Profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/chrisreardon7872 YouTube “Shoot, Move, Communicate” Channel:https://www.youtube.com/c/ShootMoveCommunicate Questions to ponder:
As you listen to Chris’ story, here are a few questions to ponder in your personal time or with a small group or mentor:
Chris shares that he knew from a young age that he wanted to serve in the military, but his father “was not keen” on Chris’ aspirations. How do we as Christians seek to honor our father and mother as we’re commanded to while also honoring what the Lord puts on our hearts to do? How did hearing Chris’ experiences of integrating faith and profession shape your understanding of intertwining those two facets of life? What does it mean to you to integrate faith and profession? Recall a time in your own life when you submitted to the Lord’s calling. How did obeying Him in that circumstance change your relationship with Him? What are your thoughts on Chris’ comparison of a Christian in the military to a palm tree? Chris shares that a friend often used tracts to share Christ with strangers while the Lord showed Chris He would use his relationships instead. How are these two approaches to telling others about Christ effective in different ways? How can you come alongside the chaplaincy in your own life to make an impact for the Kingdom together? Consider your own God-given skills, talents, and passions. How could God use these unique interests of yours to glorify Himself?
Nelson Chiaravallotti: “Enduring and faithful pursuit in the face of affliction”
This episode marks the end of season 2 of OCF Crosspoint. Thank you to each of our listeners, whether you’re tuning in for the first time or you’re a longtime listener. If you haven’t heard each episode this season, be sure to go back to episode 1 and catch up on some amazing stories.
Was there an episode that really stood out to you this season? Maybe one that you could relate to on some level or that had some other significance? If so, I’d really like to hear from you. Share your favorite episode with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Likewise, a big thank-you to all of my guests this season. I appreciate the willingness of each guest to share some deep and personal parts of their life stories.
As we head into this break between podcast seasons and start working on interviews for season 3 in April, here are three ways you can help the podcast:
First, if you have an idea for a guest, topic, or story that should be considered for the podcast, send an email to me at email@example.com and let me know. At least a couple episodes in season 2 happened as a result of listeners like you reaching with ideas. Next, if you think OCF Crosspoint is a valuable resource, would you consider leaving a review for the show wherever you listen to podcasts, and would you also tell someone else about this podcast? We’ve found that word-of-mouth advertising is extremely helpful in getting the word out to others about the show. And finally, since this podcast is a resource of Officers’ Christian Fellowship, be sure to find out more about OCF if you haven’t heard of our ministry. Otherwise, take a look at the website for ways to get involved in OCF, for additional resources to help you integrate your spiritual calling and military calling, and with winter approaching, check out the holiday programs at our two conference centers, Spring Canyon and White Sulphur Springs. My guest this episode is ENS Nelson Chiaravallotti, USN. Here are a few questions to ponder as you listen to his story of military life at the intersection of faith, family, and profession.
Nelson’s childhood desire to become a Navy officer was sparked by his parents, both Navy commanders, and their friends, who he calls “role models,” for the way they lived out their Christian faith and character in leadership. Of those in your life who influenced you either positively or negatively, what are some of the ways you have built upon the positive examples? What about the negative ones? Nelson emphasizes several times about the quality of perseverance—which he defines as an “enduring and faithful pursuit in the face of affliction,” essential to the Christian walk, and is “built on your why,” which is trust in God. Consider this Scripture: “…we also celebrate in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character” (Romans 5:3-4, NKJV). How do all those things help hone Christlike leadership as military leaders? Nelson quotes John 18:8-9 as a backdrop to the importance of taking ownership as a leader of “what you’re doing, your job, your role, and your people most of all.” How does ownership of what Christ has entrusted to you as a leader impact how you lead others? Is it true that “their well-being is your well-being”? What are some of the ways you care for those you lead in ways that others leading you don’t do?
Liliane Delva: “I always use my experience as a testimony to help other people”
My guest this episode is MAJ Liliane Delva, USA. Liliane was initially interviewed for an article on Christian Mentoring that appeared in the Spring 2021 issue of COMMAND magazine. In this episode, Liliane talks about the significance of the 9/11 attacks on her Army career, how her parents immigrated from Haiti and made it a point to keep the family away from some of the voodoo practices they saw while living there, and she also talks about how trauma from a molestation as a child had a profound impact on her life, creating much fear and anxiety, before she followed that gentle nudging from God to get help and healing.
As a reminder: If you have an idea for a guest, topic, or story that I should consider for a future episode of the show, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or to email@example.com.
As you listen to Liliane’s story, here are a few questions to ponder in your personal time or with a small group or mentor.
Liliane discusses joining the military at a time when a military career was “marketed” as an opportunity for college scholarships and developing skill sets, and how the events of 9/11 caused her to reconsider what her military service really meant. How does her resolve to fulfill her commitment, to “not go back on my word,” align with what Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:37 to “…let your ‘yes’ be ‘yes,’ and your ‘no’ be ‘no’”? Liliane was born and raised in Haiti where the “blending of different belief systems” including voodoo was common. With a “reverence for God” intact from her Catholic upbringing, as a teen Liliane determined to “find out and establish a relationship with God for myself.” How does establishing a relationship with God differ from merely practicing a religion? “The way we envision the word ‘father,’ and the image that we see regarding ‘father’ or ‘dad’ is very important because it can influence the way we see God.” Liliane says she sees in God the Father the same attributes that she felt from her earthly father in how he loved, cared, and protected her as an authority figure. What is your view of God? How does that impact your life—or the way you treat others, especially if you have kids? Reflect on these statements from Liliane: “God is really in everything we do, and He is really present in every aspect of our lives,” and “There is a greater strength in you than you realize that allows you to overcome, and that’s the strength you find in God.” In what ways do these thoughts amaze you, especially in knowing these are from a woman who overcame sexual abuse?
Karis and Ben Meier: “God really opened my heart through what I’ve suffered”
Have you ever been in a situation where it seemed like God was using affliction to draw you to Him? Or maybe you’re in that situation now. How do you respond in those circumstances? In the face of a chronic illness that seems to have no end, Karis Meier chooses to respond in this way—give thanks.
In this episode, Karis is joined by her husband, LTC Ben Meier, USA, and throughout my conversation with them, you’ll hear at least three themes in their story:
First, marriage. Both Karis and Ben talk about the difficult aspects of marriage that often come along with the commitment to that marriage.
Second, patience in suffering. Karis talks about contentment and endurance as she daily battles a disease and continually asks for healing. And Ben shares how not being able to help Karis with her physical health has taught him to be more compassionate.
And third, sustainability. As a couple and as individuals, Karis and Ben talk about practical applications that have helped them on their marriage journey.
Click here to visit Karis’ blog, Suffering Well.
As you listen to their story of military life at the intersection of faith, family, and profession, here are 4 questions to reflect on:
Seasons of change can often be difficult to adjust to. Karis talked about not only the change that comes from being newly married, but also the “new culture” of military that she had to get adjusted to and the start of what has been a mysterious illness. God brought Psalm 121:1 to her mind (“I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come?” ESV). What verses of Scripture have helped you during difficult seasons of change? Ben said that his 15-deployment to Iraq and Karis’s multiple health struggles were “opportunities” God used to grow their marriage, “to force us to learn to communicate in ways that we weren’t doing well,” and it was an experience “brought us to our knees and to each other.” Why is it so hard to communicate with others, especially spouses or family? What factors play into the difference between really communicating as opposed to a he-said-she-said dialogue? Read 2 Corinthians 1:8-9. Have you ever experienced a health issue or life challenge that has rendered you feeling burdened beyond strength, even despairing of life itself? Why do you think that even then, the tendency of humans is to rely upon ourselves, to find satisfaction in things other than God? What does that say about us in our walk of faith as Christians? Prayer and worship together, developing a key support system around them, and a 10-minute couch time to connect. Karis and Ben talked about specific and practical ways they’ve incorporated these disciplines into their marriage and family to help navigate the challenges stemming from Karis’ ongoing health issues and Ben’s career challenges as an officer in the Army. What are some of the ways that trusting in God makes it possible to confront the problems of life? Or does it? If not, what do you rely on instead?
Ron Bracy: “God wants me to simply trust and obey where He leads”
Some 2,500 years after the time of the prophet Habakkuk, Lt Col Ron Bracy, USAF (Ret.), found himself asking the same question as the Old Testament prophet: “How long, O Lord, will I call and you will not hear me?”
I first met Ron back in 2019, and soon after, interviewed him for this podcast. We had a great conversation as Ron unpacked how God used Habakkuk to help him through some very dark days after the death of his son, Todd. However, I recently learned that on August 11, 2021, Lt Col Bracy had died.
Ron graduated from the United States Air Force Academy and served 42 years in the Active, Reserve, and Guard components of the United States Air Force. Ron is a veteran of Vietnam with 183 combat reconnaissance missions, recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross, 15 Air Medals, and other medals for outstanding military service. Ron also was an Air Force chaplain and was deployed throughout the "hotspots of the world" as he called them. His last active-duty assignment was at the Pentagon, where he was on duty the morning of the terror attacks on 9/11.
He also earned a Ph.D. in Biblical Studies and Ethics; taught at seminary, college, and secondary schools; was a pastor for 25 years; and is also the author of Walk On, a book that uses Habakkuk to go deeper on topics such as despair, faith, and praise.
In this episode, I want to share some of the conversation we had and tell you the story of Ron Bracy, and his journey through the valley of despair, and ultimately, how he reached the mountaintop of praise.
This is Ron's story of military life at the intersection of faith, family, and profession. As you listen to his story, here are some questions to ponder.
Read Habakkuk 1, where the prophet questions God about the lawlessness, wickedness, and the lack of justice surrounding him, and why God was not setting things right. Why does God allow us to see, even experience, iniquity and trouble in others? Or ourselves? Do those things lead you to God, or away from Him? Ron says that “every person who’s ever lived on this earth will deal with the issue of despair in their lives.” The death of his son on a training mission left him—a pastor—struggling for years: “My son was dead, and so was I.” In what ways has faith in Christ helped you cope with the despairs of life? Ponder this observation of Ron’s: “‘Be still, and know that I am God.’ Honestly, how many of us are ‘still’ in our lives? We fill our day with activity, we can’t stand the silence. We fill our lives with things, we’re never still. How do we expect to hear God?” Is that a true statement for you? What is your remedy? Ron’s book, Walk On, is still available at Amazon. To purchase a paper or digital copy, click here.
OCF Crosspoint Podcast highlights all aspects of Christianity and much more in this can't miss podcast! The hosts and guests provide advice and insightful information for all listeners!!
Greatly enjoyed hearing the podcast on service to our country. Would love to hear more about what it means to have a Christian view on combat.
A great idea to encourage and network an learn who we are -serving the Lord in the military-
But could do without the OCF advertising with each pod cast - why not one on the OCF to get the word across?