The Global War on Terror was well under way in Afghanistan and allied troops were closing in on Kuwait’s border with Iraq when Capt. Christian Bettis was commissioned as a second lieutenant in 2002 from the University of South Alabama.
She wanted to parlay her criminal justice degree into an Army occupation with the military police. Instead, she became a proud member of the Ordnance Corps.
After a deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, she is as enthusiastic today about her career as when she first enlisted five years ago. Bettis hopes, however, to serve another calling – the Chaplain Corps.
“I look at it as though I’m standing on the banks, waiting for my ship to arrive,” said Bettis. “It’s an exciting time. I know it will be challenging, but I understand the need for chaplains. I’ve accepted the challenge, and I think that’s half the battle right there.”
During her deployment, she worked with chaplains as a praise and worship leader, and attended bible study regularly. She shared quarters with a noncommissioned officer, and their occasional religious discussions helped the NCO find her own faith growing stronger.
“She called me recently and said how grateful she was to have spoken with me,” said Bettis. “She goes to church now, takes her kids, and has really grown spiritually and mentally as a person. Helping one person grow closer to God is such a great reward, that you want to share that gift with everyone. That’s the call I feel.”
Bettis was ordained an evangelist at 19 – both parents are pastors, and her grandmother was a preacher – so she feels religion is in her blood. Having completed the Captains Career Course at the Army Logistics Management College, she spoke with Chaplain (Col.) James Walker at the Installation Chaplain’s Office about pursuing the chaplaincy.
“Capt. Bettis is definitely committed to preparing herself to serve as an Army chaplain,” said Walker. “I feel she is sincere, caring and passionate about serving Soldiers and their Families, especially having been in the trenches herself. I am excited for Capt. Bettis and wish her God’s blessing as she pursues the call to be an Army chaplain.”
She is currently working on her master’s in divinity from Liberty University. Completing her degree may take longer than she would like, but is the next step in becoming a Chaplain.
She is training at Fort Riley, Kan., and is expected to deploy with a military transition team to Iraq in September. Bettis wants to finish her education within the next three years, and hopes to deploy one day as a chaplain.
“The need for chaplaincy is always there, but there’s a greater need on deployments because Soldiers are away from their familiar areas,” said Bettis. “They have to cope with separation from family, and doing their jobs can be a great burden to bear. Having someone there to provide spiritual nourishment is important.”