Chaplain Charles Marvin directs
the Chaplaincy Department of the Assemblies of God. He spoke recently
with Scott Harrup, associate editor, about his ministry experiences
in the Navy.
Evangel: You have a strong family
heritage in the military. Tell us about it.
My dad was in the Navy in World War I. My oldest three brothers joined
the Navy when World War II broke out. Im one of 12 children
seven boys and five girls and all of us boys ended up serving
in the Navy. When I graduated from high school, I joined the Navy Reserves
and received submarine training. I was in the reserves for eight years,
remaining for five years on the inactive reserve during my years of
pastoring. I read an article in the Evangel about the need for
chaplains, and in 1971 I came on active duty as a chaplain in the Navy.
I spent 27 years with the service that I love, half that time with the
Evangel: What were some ministry
Marvin: As a pastor for 13
years, I had always worked around church people. One tends to develop
an expected persona for that ministry. My first duty station was with
the Marines at Camp Pendleton in Southern California. Suddenly I was
in combat gear climbing the hills and eating out of tin cans and C-Rations
with Marines. I discovered many of them had a great lack of spiritual
knowledge and I had to go back to the "ABCs" of the faith.
I had to talk about what salvation is, how one is born again, how one
should pray. These men were often completely unchurched and had never
had the basic questions of faith answered by a Sunday school teacher
or youth pastor. Many had just returned from Vietnam and were trying
to transition to peacetime duty. They were trying to overcome terrible
memories and experiences. I had to help them through this.
Over the years, I also served at
a number of Naval facilities and on the ships USS Ajax, USS Holland
and USS Independence. I retired in 1998 as the assistant chief of staff,
religious ministries, at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego.
Evangel: Any examples of Gods
protection on your life?
Marvin: I never served in
combat, but there are situations even in peacetime that can bring risk.
God certainly protected me on several occasions when someone emotionally
on edge brandished a loaded weapon. One case, in particular, involved
a married couple going through trauma. I had just counseled them and
we were going to their car. As he sat behind the wheel, she and I were
standing next to the car. Suddenly, she pulled a pistol out and shot
him in the head. She turned the gun on me and started screaming. I threw
my hands up and knocked the gun away.
I leaned into the car and saw that
the man was close to death. I just shouted right into his ear that he
should ask for Gods forgiveness in order to be ready for eternity.
Miraculously, he didnt die. He was in a coma for several weeks.
I visited him in the hospital after he regained consciousness. He could
hardly talk, but he said to me in halting speech, "Chaplain, you
probably dont think that I heard what you said. But I did hear
and I did what you asked me to do." That brought tears to my eyes.
Evangel: How did your faith reinforce
your commitment to military service?
Marvin: I told God repeatedly
that I would go wherever He wanted me to go in His service. I never
could have imagined the places where I would minister or with whom or
under what circumstances. If we will keep moving on faithfully, affirming
the scriptural characteristics of God, we can offer ministry in the
midst of difficult circumstances. I may not be able to give a reason
for something I am going through, but I affirm the faithfulness of God
in all of lifes events.
Evangel: Anything else?
Marvin: While visiting our
chaplains in Germany recently I was reminded of the horror of war. But
when I saw some of the concentration camps there, it reminded me that
it is worth any price to fight against totalitarian regimes that would
rob us of our freedom of religion and freedom from fear. I believe our
Armed Forces have a vital mission, and being able to minister to the
men and women who provide for our national security has been very satisfying.