San Antonio seminary students serve double duty at Fort Sam Houston
SAN ANTONIO (BP)--Lieutenant Colonel Timothy Reese and Chief Warrant Officer 5 Robert Jordan are soldiers and ministers. Reese and Jordan, both long-time army veterans, recently began theological studies at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary's San Antonio extension campus.
Reese, an army nurse, is the senior healthcare analyst for Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston. Jordan serves in the veterinary medicine division as a food inspector.
Both men believe that God has provided them with the opportunity to serve as ambassadors for Christ in the armed forces, even while they prepare for their future ministries.
"I have many opportunities to share my faith," Jordan said. "Everywhere I've been stationed, I've felt like I was on the mission field. I've moved about every three years, and there is always a place for us to work in a church. Seminary training will only enhance my ability to serve the Lord."
"God has given me the opportunity to minister, to look at our patients holistically, and to meet their needs physically and spiritually," Reese said. "I introduce myself to many people as 'pastor.' They often look puzzled and say, 'But you're a nurse.' I say, 'I am both.'"
Jessica Veilleux, chief of Volunteer Services at Brooke Army, commended Reese on his dual role as minister and soldier.
"I am in awe that he can address the psychological, social, physical, and spiritual needs of not just the patients, but of the whole staff," she said.
Jordan was the first of the two soldiers to sense a call into the ministry.
When Jordan was 15 years old, he was invited to play baseball with the Royal Ambassadors at a local church. Although he admits that he was "really more interested in baseball than church," Jordan was ultimately led to Christ by his R.A. director.
Jordan enlisted in the army in 1972 after attending Southwestern Oklahoma State. Nearly 10 years later, after achieving the rank of warrant officer, he sensed a call into the ministry.
"I sensed a calling, maybe not to be a pastor, but to teach in the field of education in the church," Jordan said. "So although I felt called to the ministry in 1981, I'm just beginning."
The delay in fulfilling his call to pursue a theological education was not his fault, he said. Jordan's wife was diagnosed with cancer and after a long battle, succumbed to the disease five years ago.
"Those times naturally made me have doubts about answered prayers, but my service and my faith never slowed down," Jordan said. "My wife and I never stopped going to church and we never stopped serving even in the middle of her illness."
Jordan's son became ill soon after. He was diagnosed with Chrone's disease, but he has been treated successfully.
When Jordan was finally able to enroll at Southwestern Seminary's extension campus in San Antonio in August 2001, it seemed as if his studies would proceed normally. In October, however, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer and was scheduled for surgery in November. A marathon runner, Jordan healed quickly and returned to his seminary studies after missing only one class session.
"I had a friend who took notes for me that week, but I had to get back in the classroom. I didn't want to miss anything," Jordan said.
Reese's call into the ministry came after the Persian Gulf War, where he was responsible for establishing a mobile army surgical hospital. After the war he moved to Waco, Texas, to pursue a master's degree in healthcare administration at Baylor University.
While there, Reese, who was raised in the United Methodist Church, began attending a Baptist church and was also baptized there.
Ironically, his wife Laura, who was reared a Jehovah's Witness, was baptized at nearly the same time in a Baptist church in Maryland where she was waiting to sell the family's home.
Reese, who joined the army in 1983, made the decision to begin theological studies in August knowing that he might not be in San Antonio for long. Reese has moved 20 times in 20 years because of duty assignments. He anticipates a future assignment in Washington, D.C., but has been informed by his superiors that he may enroll for another semester at the San Antonio extension.
Still, Reese has to divide his time between his service in the army, church, his theological studies, and his duties as a father of seven. The Reese's eighth child will arrive soon.
"I know that's a lot of kids, but because we have so many, we are able to easily express our faith in the Lord. Children, we always tell people, are the Lord's greatest blessing," Reese said. "And what is strange is that they are the only blessing in life that people are willing to say, 'No thank you, God, no more children.' People don't refuse financial blessings or blessings at work, but they will refuse children."
Neither Jordan nor Reese plan to retire from military service soon.
"I plan on taking another three-year assignment at Fort Sam Houston before moving to Southwestern's main campus in Fort Worth to pursue the master of arts in Christian education on a full-time basis," Jordan said.
Reese's plans are less certain.
"I don't know what will happen in the near future," he said. "Every time I get a new assignment, it just gets better and better, and we always end up feeling like that place is where the Lord wanted us to minister. Right now I don't know if going to seminary full time is in my immediate future."
Jordan and Reese are not the only soldiers who have enrolled in Southwestern's San Antonio extension. The campus, which opened in 1977, has drawn others interested in ministerial careers from San Antonio's other area posts, such as Lackland and Randolph Air Force Bases.
(BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: CHIEF WARRANT OFFICER ROBERT JORDAN and LT. COL. TIMOTHY REESE.