My name is Jerrod and I am an Iraq war veteran. In this article, you will see personal testimonies of Seventh Day Adventist soldiers.
They range from individuals that have served many years in the military to new recruits looking at joining the military. We will be diving into the question of “can a Seventh Day Adventist serve in today’s US Military?” Some key issues as we read this are: Sabbath Observance, murder, diet and negative influences.
In 1972, the official position of our church on military service summed up is allowing the individual to have personal convictions not based on a “Sola Scriptura.” Therefore, if you feel like its ok to do unnecessary work on the Sabbath and to take the lives of others that choice is yours and so it is “ok”.
Is it not high time for a revival of the preaching of the gospel of peace?
Could you imaging, being one of the disciples that thought that Christ was supposed to be a great earthly King of war? They listened as the Savior told His disciples to go out and work in the field for the Lost. He was telling them to sell their garments for tools of soul winning, not for war. Nevertheless, they were not getting it “We have two swords is that enough?” (Luke 2:38). Could you imagine watching the Savior’s dismal facial expression as he looks towards the ground and says “That’s enough”? Could you imagine being the disciple that still has not grasped the fullness of the Savior’s mission here on earth, as he drew His sword trying to kill another man? Again, the dismal words of the Savior corrects his sinful servant and tells him “Put up again thy sword into his place; for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword” (Matt 26:53).
“War is the loss of all human sense; under its influence men become animals entirely. The artist looks always for passion, and passion is seen at its height on the battle-field.... Every hour of war brings something new, something never seen before, something outside the range of ordinary human life. It is the reversal of Christianity” (Arthur Mee, 1899).
What was the Savior’s mission? “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
What are our marching orders from the Savior? “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world, Amen” (Mat 28:19-20).
I am an Iraq War Veteran and I have written about my experience in the military and almost going to a Federal Prison for keeping the Sabbath Holy. You can read that article here.
I will not allow the two horns of the second beast to dictate the kind of servant I will be for my Jesus. Found in Revelation 13, the two horns are freedom from dictatorship and freedom of worship. Merged together is a beautiful but scary picture of American Patriotism that we are starting to see today, and it will be what the Beast uses to help bring on his Mark. We cannot stand by this “patriotism” while it replaces the Bible.
And yet today, in the United States, actually the great majority of professed ministers of the gospel hold war to be perfectly compatible with Christianity— that “Christians can go to war and still be Christians!” (ARSH June 27, 1899, p. 413.2-3).
In WWII, we saw a split in the SDA church in Germany mostly over our stance on bearing weapons. Our stance on serving in the Military needs to be resolved now before we get any farther into these end times. The last thing our church needs is a split unless that split comes under the umbrella of the great shaking.
Possibly the day may come again when we will be forced into combat. I remember reading a famous book called “A thousand shall fall” (which I devoured in three days). It was the epic story of a German soldier during WWII that never fired a shot and kept the Sabbath Holy. This story shows a great example for us to follow when forced to battle with a weapon in our hand.
“I saw that those who have been forward to talk so decidedly about refusing to obey a draft do not understand what they are talking about. Should they really be drafted and, refusing to obey, be threatened with imprisonment, torture, or death, they would shrink and then find that they had not prepared themselves for such an emergency. They would not endure the trial of their faith. What they thought to be faith was only fanatical presumption” (1T 357.1).
There is one conservative Seventh Day Adventist chaplain that I know (a very rare breed) that is rooted in Jesus and has actually made the military his mission field. But he is a chaplain, which is a religious officer. They are usually granted many special accommodations when compared to the enlisted and officers.
The following are testimonies of a soldier and recruits:
"I spent 12 years in US Army. Being a soldier is a hard life and it did not get any easier for me when I accepted Jesus and became a Seventh Day Adventist. I did not grow up in the church and when I first started to read the Bible, I became very convicted about the life I was living as soldier. When I considered Jesus telling Peter to put his sword back in its place or giving the one that smites you—the other cheek— I asked, how does a soldier reconcile that? How could I justify taking up arms against another after reading that I am to love my fellow man the way God loves us?
The culture in the Army is unlike anywhere else you will ever find. Many of the soldiers possess a tremendous amount of physical and mental toughness but with that toughness comes foul language, harsh jokes, and other things that I will leave unmentioned. I have also met plenty of soldiers that were just worn out from deployment after deployment. Many soldiers have deployed 5 times in 7 years or worse. Post-traumatic stress disorder is a given in the combat communities. The Army is a very tough place for a Seventh Day Adventist Christian to live and work.
One of the most difficult challenges of being an Adventist soldier is keeping the Sabbath. Most commanders will respect their soldier’s religious beliefs but the Army is very mission-focused and if the Sabbath were to get in the way of a mission, then I could have easily found myself in a very difficult position. "
Brother Dustin is now pursuing a degree in theology.
"I am an 18-year-old Seventh-day Adventist and I almost joined the military. It is 6:40 a.m. on a cloudy Saturday morning. I am getting ready for RSP (recruit sustainment program). This National Guard program takes place one weekend a month to help new recruits get ready for boot camp. We are all getting in formation so we can hear further instructions from the Drill Sergeant. I’m very nervous because I can’t find the Commander in charge, I needed to talk to him ASAP so that I can tell him I can no longer be part of the Tennessee National Guard. I knew exactly what I had to tell him, I had practiced the night before, and I had prayed to God like NEVER before. The Drill Sergeant gives us the instructions to march to the track field to perform APFT ( Army Physical Fitness Test). I stood my ground and respectfully stepped away from the APFT field. It ALL started there. I was surprised that other Sergeants were not attacking me, yet I was feeling more and more uncomfortable as the minutes kept passing. Eventually one Sergeant yelled out to me, “And why aren’t YOU participating. . . . ?”
After a little bit I found myself in an office and I could not believe my eyes when I saw who was standing in the room with us. It was a Captain (he’s the big man in charge). I felt a relief because he was also the chaplain who would preach to us on Sunday service. I knew he would understand my case. Wrong. That man questioned my faith more than the meanest looking Sergeant beside me. I felt lonely, confused, emotional, speechless, and disappointed. He told me things that hurt. I began asking myself, “am I making the right choice?”
He used his “tactics” to justify that God is ok with us disobeying his law once in a while. He was using my own sword against me. My eyes started watering up, I was getting intimidated. I asked God to help me be strong and He did just that. I just looked at the Captain with a straight face, I wanted him to read my eyes that said,” I will stand up for God no matter what!” He called me a coward. They let me go for the day…
I began using Google to find some answers or stories of former Seventh day Adventists in the military. I eventually came across a pretty interesting article called The Sabbath vs The Army. It was written by a former military soldier who is now a Preacher helping many young people like myself. That article really got to me because in there I realized that it would be hard to serve God and serve my country at the same time. I wanted to get in contact with the author ASAP.
I began thinking of Desmond Doss and I knew I wanted to stand up for God like he did. I also began thinking of my friends and family who told me not to go, and how I was being selfish by ignoring what they said. They care and love me. I use to think that there was no problem being a Seventh-day Adventist in the military. I convinced myself that I could start a ministry within the military. Trust me, it won’t go your way. I would rationalize that working in the military on a Sabbath would not be wrong because after all, I’m serving the country, but if you spend most of the day working out and cleaning every corner of the barracks, is that serving? Another thing that I didn’t feel comfortable with was the day on which church services were held and the way it was preached. We would work all Sabbath and relax on Sunday.
I have a very close friend who grew up with me in the church. We both preached together when we were kids. He was active within the church and he had the sweetest personality. Everybody loved him and it shocked us when he decided to join the Marines. We noticed that he seemed different when he came back from Marine basic training. He was more distant and serious. He left back to go to training and I would sometimes have the chance to call him, he would tell me life is hard in the Marines. He eventually began to drink more and more when he had days off. It hurt me to see him like this. He told me that mostly all the guys drink in there. He was influenced and he began doing it with the guys. Why? He told me that he regrets joining, he said life is hard in there.
The word of God cannot be any more clear. Read Psalms 27. It’s the verse that kept my head up that whole Sabbath against a whole National Guard company. Write your story, let’s take part in God’s mission and convert lives for him. Let’s make an oath of enlistment to God’s military!"
Brother Ben is living in New York spending time with family and friends while getting rooted into Jesus.
"It was the beginning of last year that I began considering signing up for military service. I had spent most of my life traveling, volunteering, and working a few jobs here and there whenever I was stateside. I had recently married a wife and we found out that we were due for a baby. That put me a bit on edge. What was I going to do to provide for my family financially?
I had been involved in tremendous amounts of mission organizations and had done speaking and teaching for the church as well but even this wasn’t anywhere near enough to get me a job in the church, since I had no theological or religious education, except as another volunteer and I was done with volunteering. I had a family to provide for and no one wanted me, except the military.
I heard differing stories about Sabbath keeping and exercising freedom of conscience from both Adventists and other Christians, and it seemed like there wouldn’t be any significant issues because I was going in as an officer and they all assured me that officers have much more freedom than enlisted. That however didn’t fully satisfy my question on the Sabbath.
After GYC I had hoped that something spectacular would happen and I would get offered a job to work with a ministry or a conference perhaps but that didn’t end up happening. How can I possibly help people to minister to victims of trafficking if I were to go to the military? How would I be able to answer their questions? I saw a group of people who were hungry for knowledge on how to engage in spiritual warfare, and here I was considering going off to engage in physical warfare.
I realized the errors of my plan and admitted defeat to God once again which has become a natural part of my life now. There was no promise of a job, no promise of support from anyone, but I had been given people in need and God wanted me to provide them with direction—as long as I could realize mine."
Alex is now pursuing a theology degree.
Jerrod Boling is an Iraq War Veteran, has been married for 13 years, he has four children, a Bachelor's in Human Services, a graduate of Amazing Facts Center of Evangelism and has been a Bible worker for almost 2 years. In 2017 he will be a full-time revelation evangelist. Feel free to contact him for outreach series' and speaking presentations.