From Pentecostal Pastorate to RAF Chaplain
Revd John Baptiste
left the RAF in 1995, after 15 years’ service, I studied theology at
Then I saw an article in our denominational magazine – announcing that the AOG were sending pastors into the military. Much to my amazement, after checking on the RAF Chaplaincy website, I discovered that even at 48 I was still young enough to apply! With light blue running through my veins and the opportunity to combine my previous military experience with my current ministerial calling, it appeared an obvious call from God to at least nudge the door ajar and see where it led to.
was pleasantly surprised at how straightforward it was to initiate the recruitment
process – interviews by both the United Board and the Chaplains’ Branch; all in
all a painless, exciting and scary prospect knowing that as I committed my way
to God, the door would open or shut as necessary.
RAF selection process followed – 3 days of interviews, aptitude and physical
tests and medicals to I had what it would take to complete the 3 months of
officer training at the RAF College, Cranwell.
officers complete a shorter, but more intense officer training course than
other officers – it can be a culture shock for the unprepared and even
disconcerting for those in the know. It consists of a challenging fitness
regime, drill, room and kit inspections, military and leadership theory, and
practical leadership exercises (chaplains are non-combatants and so don’t train
with or carry weapons). The training was fast-paced and at times frantic, but
within the blink of an eye, the parade square beckoned and graduation day
first posting was to RAF Cosford in the
the highlights of my first years in RAF Chaplaincy was my 3 month deployment to
Afghanistan as part of the Joint Support Unit during the high operational tempo
and high temperature summer period. I can definitely say that nothing in
civilian life can come close to the challenge of serving those in the
front-line of combat with the assurance that comes from the love and mercy of