Clear Creek alumnus Todd Claypool (2000) is nearing his time of retirement as a military chaplain. He reflects on the realization that God's plan for our life encompasses all of life for each of us.
"I struggle trying to put into words all that we have seen God do through our ministry," recalls Maj. Claypool. "I suppose the one phrase that stands out and has special meaning to me is the term "sojourner." This refers to a person who resides in a temporary place. This reminds me that we sojourn here on this earth, that it is not our final place. While we dwell here on earth, our home is in heaven. I have had to remember this over the years as we have moved so often.
"I"m at the point in life where my stuff doesn't move as easy as it once did. I guess that is because my heart is not as fond of leaving and yearns for longer friendships. I am also at a place where I can visualize the end of my military ministry that has taken me and my family around the world. Even though my military retirement date is still a couple of years away, we now hear the calling of God to embark on a different adventure to "sojourn" along the path in marriage and family ministry.
"I reminisce of all the places that I have lived thus far," said Claypool. "I was born in Louisville and reared in Shelby County. With military assignments and moving for ministerial education, I've resided in numerous places. I've lived at Lackland Air Force Base, TX; Fort Dix, NJ; Offutt Air Force Base, NE; Owensboro, KY; Pineville, KY; Fort Worth, TX; Fort Campbell, KY (with tours to Kirkuk, Iraq and Jalalabad, Afghanistan); Baumholder, Germany; Fort Jackson, SC; Fort Carson, CO (with a tour to Kandahar, Afghanistan); Fort Benning, GA; and Fort Knox, KY. While I was in these places, I unpacked my stuff, but I was considerably aware that it was temporary and not a final home.
"I have loved the places I have been, even the difficult places such as my combat deployments (I realize that may sound peculiar to some)," said Claypool. "In each of these places, I've been blessed to share the gospel. I have met wonderful people and have seen God";s beautiful creation. Every place I've been was for a purpose. There were tasks for completion at each place. As a military chaplain, the Army gives orders and assignments, but we as followers of Christ know that God has a higher plan and purpose for our being.
"As a sojourner, I understand that God is using me in His magnificent plan for my life," affirms Claypool. "I say that in awe and tremble — knowing that I don't deserve, or have some special credentialing, that demands such an acceptance. My worth as a person and a minister is from the value that God places on me. Truly, it is only by God's grace that I am part of His kingdom. My calling to the gospel ministry has taken me to some wonderful areas and some challenging circumstances. Whatever the environment, surrounding, or even the conditions that I have been, each has required a dependence upon God.
"A Christian sojourner follows and listens to the Master guiding. I don't say that I've always done this perfectly, though I continue to strive at being sensitive to His leading.
"As my wife and I start to "settle down" as sojourners in Bagdad, KY, our task is a little different. Our three boys who were babies at Clear Creek are now young adults. They are sojourning their own path and I bless them and pray they go with God in all the adventure and excitement that He has for them. My wife, Carrie, and I are still young and continue to visualize a new adventure as we embark on marriage and family wellness ministry.
"We have titled this ministry "Capernaum Retreats." Capernaum means "village of comfort" and is a location where much of Jesus" ministry took place. Capernaum Retreats is a marriage and family ministry and it is our prayer that it is a ministry of comfort, peace and hope — a refuge for the Christian family that is under attack in our current culture. Our goal is to strengthen the family relationship, which will strengthen the local church, and advance the kingdom of God for His glory. Carrie and I go forth as fellow sojourners listening to the Master's call and going where His orders take us."
A Christian sojourner follows and listens to the Master guiding.
(Editor's note: Chaplain (Major) Todd A. Claypool is an active duty U.S. Army Chaplain currently serving at Fort Knox, KY. He has a BA in Ministry from Clear Creek Baptist Bible College, May 2000; M.Div. Southwestern Seminary, May 2005; and MS Counseling, Columbus State University, August 2015. He and his wife, Carrie, plan for his military retirement in about two years and have begun a marriage and family ministry called Capernaum Retreats. You may find out more about their ministry at https://www.capernaumretreats.com/ or Facebook at "Capernaum Retreat."
Donnie Fox is president of Clear Creek Baptist Bible College.