“Prevent Defense”

In football there is a thing called “prevent defense.” That is when the defenders back off the line of scrimmage a bit, play a zone defense and allow the offense to move the ball a bit, but in no way score. They would give up a first down or two, but no score at all. Usually this happens late in the game when the team employing the prevent defense is significantly ahead in points. But the key thought is prevention. No scoring allowed, but the team trying to come back is allowed to use up time off the clock.

So what does this have to do with Army Chaplaincy? My Squadron Commander (SCO) told me he wants my primary efforts to be on preventing Soldiers from getting into crises, and my secondary efforts to be dealing with the crises when they do arise. So, my job is sort of a “prevent defense.” At least in terminology.

The Army provides retreat-type events called Strong Bonds events. There are retreat events for Single Soldiers, Married Couples, and Families. Once a calendar quarter my Cavalry Unit conducts two retreats, one for Singles and one for Couples or Familes. That’s 8 per year, if you do the math. And that’s up to 30 couples or 30 singles for each event. At Haddock Baptist Church we did one per year for marrieds. Now Im working with my Chaplain Assistant to conduct 8! Strong Bonds events are part of the “prevent defense.”

The counseling piece of my job also is part of the “prevent defense.” It’s all about being where the Soldiers are, whenever they are, and giving them space to talk and to be themselves (“move the ball”), but try to keep them on the playing field and out of crises or trouble.

The worship and prayers and Bible study piece also engage God’s power, shield and so much more that cover the Soldiers and their Families with grace. More of the “prevent defense.” I pray for their success, safety, and salvation all the time. I call it “praying for the three S’s” for my Soldiers and Families. Their success as Soldiers and as Family members, their safety so no harm comes to any Family member or the Soldier (and strength to overcome if something does happen), and their salvation so that everyone in the Family will be drawn to God by the Spirit.

Several friends of mine gave me lots of candy, playing cards, and little items for me to give to Soldiers. These sre also an important part of the “prevent defense.” You see, I am required to wear ammo pouches on my battle uniform, but not allowed to carry any firearms or ammo in them. I fill them with goodies instead. Candy and cards and lip balm are like keys that open the doors to friendships, a reprieve from stress if only for a moment, and the start of a counseling conversation if needed. Just as I used candy in the classroom as a Substitute teacher last year, and as I gave out to homeless folk at Central City Park in Macon on Sunday nights, candy works. It catches people off gaurd. It almost always generates a smile and a word of thanks by the receiver. Couple that with my new business cards I will be receiving later this week and I will be armed and ready. A Chaplain is ALWAYS deployed. Downrange is just a change of scenery.

Last night I provided a little Superbowl party for the three Soldiers stuck at the staff duty desk. Well, they told their friends and the crowd grew to ten. We pulled out chairs, turned on the TV, broke out pizza, chips, sodas, cookies, etc. One Soldier’s spouse came by and brought veggies and dip and more snacks. She stayed through halftime. I provided some door prizes and awarded them to the Soldiers for predicting the game scores after each quarter. It was good clean, safe fun. I looked around and recognized a couple of Soldiers I had previously counseled. I saw no booze. I heard no torrent of off-color language. I saw folks in uniform, and a spouse, enjoying a safe time together, while allowing the three at the duty desk to answer the radio and standby for any emergency – which never occurred. It cost me some out of my pocket, but it was oh so worth it. Two Soldiers literally said aloud that if they didn’t have this event to attend they would have been at a bar. We cleaned up afterwards and left the remainder of the food for the three who had to work the desk until nine the next morning. The Commander wants prevention? There’s some prevention! Call it a little “Superbowl Prevent Defense.”

Thank you to my friends who send candy. Trust me when I tell you the way it is used is a key to unlock the door to conversation – which starts a relationship – which opens yet a deeper door to ministry. Any relationship must have trust. A Chaplain just doesn’t walk up to a Soldier and say “Tell me your troubles.” A Chaplain walks up, empowered by the Holy Spirit and the prayer support of family and friends, and says “Here is some candy.” Who said a Chaplain isn’t armed?!?!?! Thank you friends for being the “12th Man” in this “Prevent Defense” that ministers to our Soldiers.


4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Carol on 7 February 12 at 14:15

    Wonderful testimony, William! You’re a blessing not only to your soldiers, but to all who read your blog. God bless you, your family, and your ministry. We love and miss you, Carol & Tony


  2. Posted by DD on 10 February 12 at 18:19

    You are truly a blessing!!


    • Thank you. Thank you for reading. Im certainly a rookie Chaplain. There are so many other more exerienced ones with better blogs. But thank you for reading mine. I’m getting started but will get it right one day.


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