They Still Serve: Church of God Pastors Offer Veterans Day Reflections
By Carl Stagner
Retired Chaplain (Col) David Root recently reminded Church of God leaders in Texas of some basic facts about Veterans Day in the United States. He noted the correct punctuation of the holiday: “It’s not Veteran’s Day, but Veterans Day.” He explained that it’s a not a day for veterans to “celebrate their camaraderie,” but a “day for the nation to honor men and women who are serving and have served in our military.” Noting the distinction from Memorial Day (when we honor those who gave their lives in military service), he stressed that November 11 is for honoring living servicemembers. He also noted the origin of the holiday as Armistice Day, the end of the first World War. In an appeal to appropriately observe Veterans Day, Root also clearly communicated the need to submit ultimately to the superior commanding officer, Christ. Other ministers in the Church of God, active and retired, have served in the military in one position or another—or several. They, too, offer reflections on this Veterans Day in the United States, coinciding with Remembrance Day in Canada.
Longtime Church of God pastor and current chairman of Pastors’ Fellowship, Gerald Rudd, served in the United States Army, 1968–1971. He appreciates his time in the service, acknowledging the remarkable degree of discipline he learned that he would later apply to the ministry. When asked what he wished more people understood about veterans in America today, he responded, “Most of us do not feel like heroes. We merely served and feel like we just did our jobs.”
Thank you, Gerald Rudd, for your service.
For two years now, Joshua Zarzana has served as an Air Force Chaplain. Before that, he served as senior pastor of Spirit Lake Community Church, a Church of God congregation in Winter Haven, Florida. Since 2006, though, he’s been either active-duty or in the reserves. Other ministry opportunities have included youth, college-age, and family pastor duties. When considering the blessing of being in the service, Joshua states it’s about “honoring those who are well-deserving of honor…” and “getting to honor God in the ministry and in my chaplain function….” Though civilians may not always realize it, “Our work is heavy, burdensome, and a toll is severely paid in serving our country,” Joshua reveals. “[It’s important to] be grateful and help us hold onto a country that is worthy of such servitude.” When asked how the Church of God can best pray for veterans, in general, Joshua replies with encouragement to include their families. “There are many times that families serve and suffer just as great as the military member.”
Thank you, Joshua Zarzana, for your service.
Ronald V. Duncan is no stranger to the Church of God movement. The predecessor to Jim Lyon in the general director position at Church of God Ministries, Ron is also a veteran. From
1981 through 1988, he served with the Indiana Army National Guard, then in the Army Reserves until his retirement in 2006. He thanks God for the experience, and especially the blessing of Christian witness. “I was able to connect with soldiers who had no church home or affiliation, and help them in their life issues, as well as introduce them to Jesus.” Ron goes on to discuss the tremendous commitment it is to serve one’s country; civilians would be blessed to consider just how much of a sacrifice it is. A prayer point Ron offers is, “Some veterans leave the service and it doesn’t impact them in the wrong way, but there are others who are impacted tremendously, for those who have PTSD and are still struggling.”
Thank you, Ron Duncan, for your service.
Bob O’Dell serves Tennessee Ministries of the Church of God as state pastor. As an active-duty (some reserve) Air Force chaplain who retired in 2013 after a little over a quarter-century of service, he is blessed to speak to the topic of veterans. “It was an honor and privilege to serve in the military,” he explains. “It was also a blessing, as an Air Force chaplain, to have interaction with various individuals across various walks of life in various positions.” Further reflecting upon the best ways Church of God people can pray for veterans, he urges avoidance of the temptation to be too general. “Get to know a veteran in your church, in your community,” he says. “Ask questions. Find out what their needs are. Pray for them and come alongside them.”
Thank you, Bob O’Dell, for your service.
Thank you to all veterans for your service in the United States and Canada!
Learn more about the ministry of chaplains in the Church of God at www.jesusisthesubject.org/chaplains.