Rev. Ammerman has a unique calling on his life and has seen the fulfillment of that calling to impact the military chaplaincy for Christ. What follows are edited excerpts from a statement by Rev. Ammerman during a recent interview conducted by Rev. Jim Linzey.
He began by saying, “We founded Chaplaincy of Full Gospel Churches 28 years ago, and it has grown. God knew how big it was going to be; but I would never have believed it if you told me back then. We have over 520 chaplains now. That includes not only the U.S. military, where most of them are, but also the VA hospitals, and state and federal prisons and other institutions. We even have chaplains in some universities.
“But, I have encouraged all our chaplains not to grow stale on Jesus, but to stay abreast of things, build a good library, be true professionals in the best spiritual sense of that word, and always make the number one book the Bible. And, Jim Linzey [an ANS correspondent,] of course, is a specialist in that area because he has produced another Bible that is going to be of great service to leaders. And we need to know that. And we — any of us — need to enhance this endeavor any way we can.
“But, let me say this to you to encourage your heart. If God puts you somewhere, then you ought to know that He takes care of His own. Do not ever forget that. I have lived through three wars, on the land, the sea, and in the air. I do not have a mark from the wars on my physical self. I do not even have a mark on my psychological self. I never had PTSD [Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder] because I knew what God’s call was.
“Whom God calls, He protects and nurtures. And so if God calls you to some unusual ministry, and it is a dangerous one, do not consider it dangerous, because He still keeps His eye upon His servants and upon this planet called Earth, and especially upon America—freedom loving people. And that is why The Leader’s Bible is going to be so important. Those of us who are leaders are going to go through the fire. I have been through it.
“Jim Linzey has been a part of standing up for the Lord at all costs. It does not matter what the price is. Nobody has nailed me to an old rugged cross yet, although I have had some pretty serious things happen. I was locked up incommunicado one time for five months while I was on active duty because due to an unbelieving chaplain. I can talk about that because that is all in the past, and I was proven to be totally in the right.
“On another occasion, I had exercised my constitutional rights. I had Bob Jones come and preach. And I tried to get them to let me bring Billy Graham on one of the larger posts — Fort Campbell, KY. It was not commanders that kept me from bringing those two great evangelists on. It was unbelieving chaplains.
“But an interesting thing happened while I was a Green Beret chaplain over in Europe. I received specialized training to prepare me to later bring the right kind of chaplains into the military. This later included men and women of most ethnic backgrounds. We even have Native Americans.
“I have had some of the chiefs as chaplains, of more restrictive denominations, say, ‘Where do you get all these people?’ And one of the chiefs of chaplains was a Lutheran. So I said, ‘I’ll tell you what. I will meet you on Sunday morning in your area.’ In this case, it was Bowling Air Force Base where the Air Force headquarters was located. And he was the Air Force Chief of Chaplains.
“I said, ‘I’ll give you a list of all our chaplains within a hundred miles. I’ll also give you a list of all our churches within a hundred miles. You tell me which service — military or civilian — you want to visit on that Sunday morning, and we will go in. When you walk in there, you can see there are people from all races and tribes and dialects, because they are who we minister to. That is who Christ died for. And we know that we’re on the right track. We’re following in the footsteps of Jesus and so are all our people.’
“Well, he declined to do that, because they have a very restrictive approach and he was not allowed to even attend services like that. So I said, ‘You would see where we get our people. They are from the churches that our people minister to. People come up and hear the call of God for them to be a chaplain. And they respond to it, and we support them. We open the door for them and support them as long as they’re a chaplain, and even after they retire. So, God is doing a great thing.’
“And so, they know that we have done what I said we would do when I went before the Armed Forces Chaplains Board that approved Endorsing Agencies 30 years ago. They said, ‘Where are we going to get any of your kind? Where can we get any of your kind that can even meet basic requirements?’ And these were all flag officers, 2 stars each. And I said, ‘Gentlemen, now, I have already retired but I had stood in the presence of many generals. My last half of my 26-year service, I was on general officer staffs where there would be maybe three to five generals.’
“And I talked to them about it. I said, ‘This book that I believe in says that none of you need to miss heaven. God has a plan for every one of you to have one of the mansions in heaven.’ And they had never been told that. And so I led many of those senior officers to the Lord. They had never had a chaplain tell about Jesus. I learned a little song while I was still a young teenager that came out – ‘Everybody Ought to Know.’ I had a pastor that taught his church this song in Kansas City, Kansas. And I was going to that church at that time. I met a girl there, and she was 14 when I met her. I married her four years later. That was 65 years ago. And I liked that song because it is true: ‘Everybody Ought to Know’ who Jesus is.
“I hold several degrees, because I did what I have encouraged our chaplains to do. As I told them, ‘Do not go stale on Jesus. Get yourself a good library. Go to professional conferences. Be a somebody in the kingdom that no one can refute. And so our chaplains, again and again, have said, ‘Well, if I’m going to do that, I might as well get a doctorate.’ And Jim Linzey is one of those.
“But we are fully accepted by the Armed Forces Chaplains Board. They called me and said that we at Chaplaincy of Full Gospel Churches have more people on Active Duty with earned doctorates from accredited universities and seminaries than the next two largest denominations put together. Well, this describes our chaplains. And they used to wonder if we had qualified chaplains. Our chaplains are leading the way. Yes, they are. And I am proud of them—every one of them. I am encouraging them. Some of them say, ‘I’m going to go ahead and get a doctorate before I apply for Active Duty.’
Jim Ammerman went on to say, “God takes willing people, and brings them all the way to the top. And I have encouraged Jim Linzey every way I know how to encourage him, because I expect him to go to the top and be not just a nationwide leader. He has worldwide capability! I know he is listening to me and reading this message.
“God is greater than we know. Most of us never understand who Jesus really is. He sits there at the right hand of the Father. I do not know if you have ever stood up again when kicked down. But Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father, making intercession for you and me. And so I do not worry who it is who I am to see during my visits, which is a common concern in the military.
“We have a man who is president of our seminary in South America. I took him along and I met the military leaders of ten nations from South America, and five nations from Central America. They wanted to talk with me about a born again, Spirit-filled, non-Catholic chaplaincy. God arranged that.”Ammerman concluded by saying, “President Hugo Chavez [of Venezuela] calls me ‘the white-haired guy from Dallas, Texas.’ He had a meeting with the 300 people he rules in that nation with and said, ‘This man has been coming down here and educating our people. He has only done good and has not asked us for a single thing.’ Our seminary down there, graduate level, is approved and accredited through doctors on the international scene, because, I said, ‘If we start a seminary here, we’ll go first class. I do not have a second class Jesus.’ And folks, you need to hear that. You do not have a second class Jesus. So, everything you do in His name should be done first class.”
Note: Rev. Jim Ammerman is a retired Army Chaplain with the rank of Colonel. In addition to establishing Chaplaincy of Full Gospel Churches, he is the founder of International Conference of Evangelical Chaplain Endorsers, and co-founder of Military Bible Association. Rev. Ammerman is the author of “Supernatural Events in the Life of an Ordinary Man.” He and Charlene have been married for 65 years.