Face of Defense: ‘Quiet Call’ Led Army Chaplain to Serve
FORT BRAGG, N.C. --
For one chaplain serving in the 82nd Airborne Division, his calling did not come in the form of a thunderous voice or dramatic event. It came when he opened a local newspaper.
Army Capt. Jacques Albertyn, who serves as the battalion chaplain for the 307th Airborne Engineer Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division here, heard a soft voice while sitting in a church pew, third row from the front. He didn’t think about it much until getting home and reaching for the newspaper.
“My calling happened March 10, 2002. Some people might have that big moment where God speaks to them in a thunderous voice or something dramatic happened in their lives that calls them to ministry,” Albertyn said. “For me, it was a quiet voice.”
Albertyn was born in Pinelands, a suburb of Cape Town, South Africa, in a hospital that was once a Catholic monastery. A Southern Baptist and endorsed by the Southern Baptist Convention, he attended New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, Orlando campus before joining the Army.
“Military chaplaincy is about selfless service; it is about giving yourself to others with no expectation of receiving anything else in return,” Albertyn said. “Army chaplaincy provided me with an opportunity to walk next to the young men and women that serve this country, to share God’s presence with them and support them in the midst of anxiety and fear.”
Albertyn had just started a new career at a local company in Florida after immigrating to the United States when he heard that voice in church. The voice, he said, called him by name and said he should serve the people.
After getting home from church, Albertyn recalled praying to God to reveal which ministry to serve in. “As I opened the newspaper, on the left page there was a quarter-page advertisement about the need for U.S. Army chaplains to deploy to Iraq and Afghanistan,” he said. “I looked at the ad, read it and went onto the next page, thinking to myself, ‘That is not church.’”
Albertyn continued, “Each time I served in a church since that day, my wife would say, ‘You do know this is not where God wants you to serve.’ It might have taken me 14 years to get into the Army, but every day I serve as a chaplain is a blessing as I fulfill my true and direct calling from God.”
Being a faith leader in an airborne infantry brigade combat team, he said, requires not only steadfast courage to conduct static-line airborne operations, but also empathy to understand the reservations some paratroopers have before jumping.
A military chaplain serves alongside those he ministers to, Albertyn said.
“Being airborne is not just a job; it is a way of life,” he said. “Airborne is not for everyone, but those who are here deserve a chaplain who will look after them.”
Airborne operations can challenge the toughest soldier, Albertyn said.
“Being next to paratroopers through their challenges and hearing their opinions, fears and joys about jumping is what military chaplaincy is all about,” he said.