Paul Kim on His Life as an Army Chaplain

Paul Kim

Paul Kim is the Asian-American relations consultant with the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee and pastor emeritus of Antioch Baptist Church in Cambridge, Mass.


Being a military chaplain is a special calling to be a pastor to the troops in uniform. The chaplain serves the role of a spiritual advisor, someone who can build up the morale of the troops by offering much-needed pastoral care and counseling. The chaplain serves at chapel or in the training field, or sometimes even in combat situations — wherever the need may be, a chaplain’s presence is often demanded.

Even during training, a military chaplain participates along with the recruits to act as a role model and a source of encouragement. As a young man under Moses, Joshua must have filled a role similar to a military chaplain. Joshua then used what he had learned as an aide to Moses by performing the functions of both military and spiritual leadership over the Israelites. In Joshua 1:10-11 it says, “Then Joshua commanded the officers of the people: ‘Go through the camp and tell the people, get provisions ready for yourselves, for within three days you will be crossing the Jordan to go in and take possession of the land the Lord your God is giving you to inherit.'”

In February 1986 at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary (now Gateway Seminary), I was sworn into the Reserve Army chaplaincy with a vow to defend the Constitution of the United States of America. The ceremony was officiated by Chaplain Samuel Birky, a former Navy SEAL who had two combat tours in the Vietnam War. I received an endorsement letter from the Chaplaincy Department of the Home Mission Board (now North America Mission Board). That summer I went to the Chaplain School for training at Fort Monmouth, N.J. After graduation, I was promoted to the rank of captain. It was a great honor and privilege to put on my Army uniform as I ministered to our troops on one weekend of each month at the Oakland Army Base, a part of the 91st Infantry Division headquartered at the 6th Army in San Francisco.

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Source: Baptist Press