National Director, Bridge Network, Women's Ministries
Point Magazine // Fall 2017
“And Jesus said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation’” (Mark 16:15). His commission to the disciples is the same to us today. He has charged us to seek and save the lost.
Chaplain Capt. Tamara Rue takes this charge seriously. She served three years in the U.S. Air Force at Maxwell Air Force Base, Montgomery, Alabama, recently reassigned to Kirkland air base in New Mexico.
“I have a heart for God first, then a heart for people and a heart for airmen,” she said.
A long calling over many years
Tamara first felt God calling her to ministry in her sophomore year at Jackson State University (Mississippi) in summer 1995. While attending an International Fellowship program, she sensed God calling her to attend seminary. She had rededicated her life to Christ earlier that year through Campus Crusade for Christ.
She heard the call again after graduating from the University of Denver graduate school.
“God was drawing me to full-time ministry, but I was focused on finding an international development job,” she says.
Five years later, while she was in post-graduate school, God showed her in a dream he was calling her to ministry. She didn’t fully understand until she volunteered at a senior resident health care center and saw the ministry need. She had a similar spiritual experience four months later when she attended Denver Seminary’s preview session.
Tamara says, “There God showed me he wanted me to be a chaplain.”
In her first chaplain class at seminary, she saw God had shaped her life to serve in that role. As a child of parents in the military, and later as an adult, she lived and worked among diverse populations: various ages, races, ethnicities, cultures, faith traditions, etc.
“God used people, dreams, devotions and sermons to amplify his call. I had peace when I finally said yes,” she says. “Doors opened only God could open. I believed he had plans for me to serve as a full-time senior care chaplain. But he put an active-duty chaplain recruiter on my path to lead me to active duty in the Air Force.”
Making an impact amid challenges
The Lord has used Tamara in significant ways. She launched a prayer line and other spiritual programs at Maxwell AFB, while fulfilling the responsibilities of Sunday services, counseling airmen and their dependents and mentoring student chaplains. She saw the Holy Spirit work in crisis situations as she counseled married couples during conflicts, suicidal individuals and assault victims.
She recalls, “I still keep in touch with a successful young lady who contemplated suicide, believing no one understood her pain.”
Tamara sees her ministry as a visible reminder of the holy.
“Chaplains bring airmen to God to help them be spiritually fit and resilient. I have faced challenges as a single adult, a woman and a black American,” she said. “For example, I was asked to officiate at a retired service member’s memorial service. The family preferred a male chaplain. I tried to honor their request by finding one.
“Unfortunately, I was the only chaplain available. The family moved the service time earlier without notifying me. I discovered this when I arrived to officiate. But despite this and similar experiences, God always put the right people on my path to help me feel safe when sharing these experiences, and I received encouraging feedback from my supporters. I forgave detractors and learned from such situations.”
Strengthened to persevere
Tamara says, “God encourages me through his Word, inspiring sermons, my personal praise and worship, friends, family, colleagues, mentors — who support and coach me — and through answered prayers.”
Tamara stays motivated and on task by remembering God’s goodness and his promises. She knows she must continue to trust him as he calls her to serve people in various lands. “I am his vessel who said yes to his call and will for my life.”
Tamara believes one’s call must be pursued diligently and wholeheartedly. “If I love God, then I must also love the people he has assigned to me,” she says.
If you’re sensing God’s call to ministry, he may have wired you to serve on the front lines. Follow God’s voice. Make a compassionate difference in your church, your community and the world. Align yourself with other women leaders. Seek ministry support groups like the Converge Bridge Network and invest in the lives of women who look to you to set an example. Be encouraged, and let him send you.