A challenging call led Rob Rose (M.Div. ’06) on an unusual path for a graduate of Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary (MBBS, now Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary).
Captain Rose, United States Air Force, is a military chaplain in Afghanistan, a journey that began about 14 years ago. “It began with a call to ministry, specifically to military ministry. I had a weak pacifist streak in me from some high school friends, and my wife, a Navy brat, had warned me of the challenges to family a military life offers,” he says. “I knew God was calling me to family, first, so the military call seemed a challenge. Yet, knowing God was calling me there, I figured God would work out the details.”
Though a life-long Presbyterian, Rose called MBBS a good choice. “They taught me how to treat the Scripture with respect and honor and taught me how to treat people with respect and honor. They also taught me more about being Presbyterian and Reformed than I would have learned at a Reformed seminary. I had to argue for my call to the military in every class and with many fellow students,” he says. (Rose’s father, David Bruce Rose, Ph.D., is an associate professor of marriage and family therapy at FPBS.)
After pastoring churches and serving in the Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard, Rose was picked up for active duty, first at Travis Air Force Base, near Fairfield, CA, then to Afghanistan for the fall of 2016. On deployment, in addition to leading worship, providing care and counsel and coordinating volunteers, “I also protect the Constitutional rights for our troops to the free exercise of religion,” he says. “I coordinate Roman Catholic and Orthodox priest visits. I provide space for non-Christian religious groups to practice their faith. I provide care to those in our hospital. I visit people in their workplace offering encouragement and support. I also advise leaders at all levels on moral, spiritual and religious issues.”
Rose was attached to Train Advise Assist Command-Air (TAAC-Air), part of Operation Resolute Support, an international effort to build a self-sustaining Afghan nation. “I still have a pacifist streak, and Fresno Pacific (MBBS) helped me see the value of human life and God’s wholeness and healing in a brand new way,” he says.
TAAC-Air helps Afghanistan build an air force. “What we are doing is helping put the country back together, and helping the Afghan people do so in an Afghan way. It is super exciting to see Afghans begin to understand how their government can provide security for their own people—and how a capable air force helps the ground forces do that,” Rose says.
A capable Air Force can perform humanitarian activities such as evacuating people affected by landslides and flooding. “We are on the front lines of seeing Afghans work to build a healthy, sustainable Afghan nation. I am blessed to be part of that,” Rose says.
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The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the U.S. Air Force, Department of Defense or the U.S. government.