Friday, October 7, 2022

A Pastor's Ponderings: (August 2022) Dr. Doug Stauffer, Journalist

  A Pastor's Ponderings: Reaching the Unreachable Approaching the Unapproachable

By Pastor Doug Stauffer
Faith Independent Baptist Church
Journalist for Bay Life Newspaper
August 2022--Article 23 (2022-08-023)

Societal changes seem to be taking place at the speed of light. With these changing times, more churches must adapt their approach or risk becoming irrelevant. Christians must consider ways to think outside the box. Every believer and pastor must evangelize outside their comfort zones. One of the biggest problems with the 21st Century pastorate concerns the Christian view of how a pastor interacts with the masses. We must expect sinners to talk and act like sinners!

Every believer (especially pastors) must figure out how to reach the unreachable; and approach the unapproachable. Relationships must be built in loving compassion before calamity hits! Believers must use every opportunity to build these relationships, knowing that most of them involve the less-thankful tasks of planting and watering. Pastor Jim Vail wrote such a story of relationship building.

Pastor Vail wrote: “Rock was a big-time biker who had developed cancer. I went to visit and befriend him. He was friendly and welcoming but would say cringe-worthy things! After a few visits, it seemed apparent that talking about Christ was not something he welcomed. Determined to befriend him, I visited him almost weekly, enduring his often foul language and ideas of life and death.

His declining health became evident by his weight loss and his turning yellow from liver failure. One day I said, “Rock, I know you don’t want to hear about Jesus Christ, but soon you may no longer be alert and oriented. If you change your mind about Him, you will need to know and understand how to be forgiven by God of all your sins and how to know that you have eternal life! If I promise not to pressure you into anything, can I give you the knowledge of how to become right with the Lord?” He agreed.

I sat next to him with my Bible and asked him to read and explain selected passages about sin, God’s justice, and Hell. He explained them fairly well. Suddenly, in shock, he gasped: “I’m in trouble! I’m going to Hell!” I then had him read about the deity of Jesus Christ, His sacrificial death on the cross, His resurrection from the dead, and promises of eternal life to those who repent of their sins by trusting in Jesus Christ.

Suddenly, he burst into tears as he exclaimed that he had never heard or understood this before! “I want Jesus Christ for me…NOW! Can I ask Him to forgive me right now? I want Him to be MY Saviour!”  As I held his hand, he poured his heart out to the Lord, sobbing the whole time. Afterwards, he had me promise to conduct his funeral and tell this good news to all attending.

The following day, his wife phoned my office. “Rock is a new man! He is cheerful, sweet, and loving…and all he wants to do is talk about Jesus and pray together! Thank you!” I went to see Rock almost every day and grew to love him as a dear brother. His mind never lost its alertness. We would study, pray, and cry together tears of joy. A few weeks later, Rock called his family to his bedside and said, “Let’s pray together!”

They each prayed, and then Rock prayed. Then he smiled, closed his eyes and went to be with his beloved Saviour. A few days later, I kept my promise to my dear friend and told a packed crowd what Jesus Christ had done for Rock and what He could do for them!

Will you ask God if He wants you to explore new avenues of reaching the unreachable by approaching the unapproachable?

 Read the article 

Friday, August 5, 2022

Okaloosa County Welcomes Governor DeSantis Again (July 2022) Dr. Doug Stauffer, Journalist

Okaloosa County Welcomes Governor DeSantis Again

By Pastor Doug Stauffer
Faith Independent Baptist Church
Journalist for Bay Life Newspaper
July 2022--Article 23 (2022-07-023)

The Governor has visited Okaloosa County four times officially this calendar year. In February, the Governor visited Niceville at Northwest Florida State College to announce a bill allocating $10 million for workforce charter schools. In April, the Governor stopped in Destin to proclaim the extended Snapper fishing season.

In May, the Governor stopped in Crestview to announce the $3.2 million Shoal River Ranch extension. In June, the Governor stopped in Ft. Walton Beach to sign six military-related bills into law. The bills either expand educational opportunities for active-duty military members and veterans or help them advance into career fields.

The military and veterans appreciate the Governor for supporting these bills and signing them into law. These bills are life-changing as men and women depart the armed forces to enter the next phase of their lives, and I know this first-hand.

I enlisted in the Air Force when I was 17 years old and used the GI Bill to help offset the costs of attending college. I gave my country six years, and America rewarded me with an education. Because Pennsylvania was a pro-military state, they helped me earn my college degree at Penn State University, finishing without going into debt. That was forty years ago, and Florida is doing even more!

The Governor signed: 1) House Bill 45—provides tuition assistance for disabled veterans to eliminate education costs.

2) Senate Bill 430—ensures a smooth school transition for children of military families.

3) Senate Bill 514—employers at state agencies can substitute military experience for post-secondary educational requirements.

4) Senate Bill 896—provides untraditional pathways to educator certification to service members allowing military service to count towards a teacher's certificate.

5) Senate Bill 562—requires the Department of Business and Professional Regulation to expedite license applications of active-duty military spouses.

6) Senate Bill 438—updates Florida’s definition of Uniformed Service to include the United States Space Force and updates military base names.

The Governor’s news release stated, “Florida is the most military-friendly state in the nation, and I am proud to continue that commitment to our military members and their families by signing these pieces of legislation. Providing military families with the resources they need to receive a high-quality education and find good jobs is the best way that we as a state can show our appreciation for the sacrifices that they make.”

Adjutant General of the Florida National Guard Major General James O. Eifert joined Governor DeSantis, along with Florida Department of Education Senior Chancellor Henry Mack, and Executive Director of the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs retired Major General James S. “Hammer” Hartsell.

MajGen James Hartsell commenced by saying, “It is truly an honor to be here with the Commander-in-Chief of the state of Florida this morning. As a 37-year Marine, I know about leadership, and I am truly honored to serve this leader.” He pointed out that Governor DeSantis is the only currently serving veteran Governor to have deployed overseas in combat. “Our Governor’s leadership has made us the most veteran-friendly state in the nation. …Today’s bills that he will be signing will be reinforcing our state's success.” He continued by pointing out that our Governor has made Florida the most sought-after state by veterans.

The Governor seems to have his pulse on the desires and wishes of his constituents. This truth showed as the crowd was enthusiastic and supportive of the legislation coming out of Tallahassee. I was blessed to witness the crowd show support for a strong leader loved for doing the right thing.

Monday, July 4, 2022

A Pastor's Ponderings: (July 2022) Dr. Doug Stauffer, Journalist

   A Pastor's Ponderings: Revisiting July 4th 1776

By Pastor Doug Stauffer
Faith Independent Baptist Church
Journalist for Bay Life Newspaper
July 2022--Article 22 (2022-07-022)

Like many other Floridians, I love the great state of Florida, surpassed only by my love for our country. America has a long and distinguished history that patriotic Americans revisit every Independence Day, celebrating with family, friends, feasts, and fireworks. We must examine our past to understand the biblical justification for America's independence.

Motivated by shocking ideologies, the acceptance of historical revisionism is on the rise at an alarming rate. We need to educate and reeducate the populace to ensure that we keep our freedoms. Patriots must explore creative ways to help others rediscover the foundational truths of America. I choose the most untapped resource for finding the answers—God’s word.

The Bible best explains the justification of America's independence from its tyrannical king. Yet, some teachers use the Bible to teach that rebelling against a government is never justified by its subjects. According to them, the government’s subjects are to "be subject" and never "resist the power."

“Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. 2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God…” (Romans 13:1-2a).

Were the founding fathers rebelling against God when they sought to rebel against the injustices of the king of England? Some teach that citizens of a country are to subject themselves to all institutions of government. They are to subject themselves regardless of their leaders' usurpation of authority and violation of God-given rights. Yet, as the passage continues, God's word provides the context and the clarity.  

“For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good” (Romans 13:3-4).

The passage's context says that God-ordained governments and rulers are against evil and supporters of good. Every God-ordained government is the "minister of God." For what purpose? FOR GOOD! So, when any government ceases to fulfill these parameters, the constituents are not required to be subject to these higher powers. Notice that these "ministers of God" not only praise good works but also use the force of law to punish evil.

“But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil” (Romans 13:4b).

In the passage, the Bible twice defines God-ordained governments as the "minister of God"! As such, these ministers of God reward good and punish evil. With these truths in mind, the context of subjecting oneself to the government becomes crystal clear. Constituents are not required to subject themselves to governments that fall outside the parameters of a God-given government. Therefore, the thirteen colonies ceased to be under obligation to subject themselves to King George III in 1776.

What happens when governments do just the opposite: punish good and reward evil? Their subjects are under no obligation to subject themselves to such unjust usurpations. What happens when a government ceases to be the "minister of God"? It ceases to be God-ordained and frees its subjects from obligation. In 1776, these were the historical realities on this continent. This is the justification for America's rebellion in 1776! Learn it; teach it; proclaim it!

 Read the article 

Saturday, July 2, 2022

A Pastor's Ponderings: (June 2022) Dr. Doug Stauffer, Journalist

  A Pastor's Ponderings: The Fundamentals of Fathers, Fathering and Fatherhood

By Pastor Doug Stauffer
Faith Independent Baptist Church
Journalist for Bay Life Newspaper
June 2022--Article 21 (2022-06-021)

Father’s Day ALERT: June 19th. Mother’s Day, in its formative years, garnered much more enthusiasm and support than the establishment of Father’s Day. Understandably so! In the early 1900s, fathers felt the celebration was questionable because fathers were generally footing the bill for their sentimental holiday. Florists certainly had no reason to support a day for fathers.

Many Americans wanted to respect mothers and fathers on the same day, calling it “Parent’s Day.” The Great Depression and World War II derailed those efforts, so mothers and fathers have separate days of recognition. Like most holidays, commercialization took over, with retailers now netting over $15 billion a year—capitalism at its best!

Society needs fathers to assume their God-given roles enthusiastically. When a man becomes a father, responsibilities exponentially multiply. Here are some fundamentals for good fathering:

1. Function as a man—society (especially Hollywood) has been increasingly undermining manhood and manliness. Act manly without any misogynist tendencies;

2. Be a man honored to carry that Y chromosome that conspicuously differentiates between the sexes;

3. Take responsibility as a man; “I was wrong” and “I am sorry” are two precious phrases children should hear from their fathers;

4. Think like a man (the Bible says it is a sin to act effeminate—1 Corinthians 6:9);

5. Work like a man (no reflection on how women work; some women outperform men with drive, dedication and grit). Working like a man means never shying away from breaking a sweat or getting your hands dirty.

6. Lead by example; it is never wise to teach your children “do as I say, and not as I do.” Hypocrisy destroys credibility, and integrity forms an unbreakable bond. Children need to know that their fathers are trustworthy.

Fathers should teach their sons simple things like opening a door for a woman. This act has nothing to do with being a male chauvinist. My parents taught me that this courtesy reflects honor and respect for the opposite sex, whom we should highly esteem.

Societal influences (and Hollywood characterizations) seem poised to undermine fatherhood. Yet, one who is not a good man can never be a good father. Thank God we have good men, yet we can always use a few more!

Happy Father’s Day to every dad! An additional thank you to all the outstanding fatherly examples. Let’s extend the wishes from all dads to include: granddads, great granddads, step-dads, adoptive dads, foster dads, dads-to-be, dads in heaven and all the males in our lives who care for us and unconditionally love us. Dads are priceless, and we should always love them dearly. (Remember, mothers, no exclusion intended—you had your day last month).

We were just blessed to have my father visit for a week. The day after he flew back to Pennsylvania, he fell and broke his hip. One day later, he had a partial hip replacement and was transferred to rehab. Be sure to appreciate the time you spend with your father; time has a way of sneaking up on us. Happy Father’s Day!

 Read the article 

Friday, July 1, 2022

Celebrating the Greatest Generation: 80 Raiders 80 Years Later (June 2022) Dr. Doug Stauffer, Journalist

Celebrating the Greatest Generation: 80 Raiders 80 Years Later 

By Pastor Doug Stauffer
Faith Independent Baptist Church
Journalist for Bay Life Newspaper
June 2022--Article 21 (2022-06-021)

On April 18, 2022, Okaloosa County was privileged to host history in the making. Almost 2,000 of us were blessed to say, "I was there to witness this historic event." This date marked the 80th Anniversary of the World War II Doolittle Raiders bombing of Tokyo. Eighty men launched the first retaliatory strike against Japan's unprovoked attack upon America eighty years ago.

Lieutenant Colonel James Doolittle (later a Lieutenant General in the U.S. Army Air Forces and the U.S. Air Force Reserve) led the raid on Tokyo. The USS Hornet launched sixteen B-25B Mitchell medium-range bombers, each carrying a crew of five men. They bombed Tokyo on April 18, 1942.

The raid was the first on Japanese soil, four months after their attack on December 7, 1941, when three hundred Japanese aircraft destroyed the Navy's Pacific Fleet in Pearl Harbor. The Doolittle Raid on the Japanese capital boosted American morale and exposed Japan's vulnerability from the air. Although the damage to Tokyo was minimal, many historians credit the raid as the critical factor in the Japanese defeat at the Battle of Midway—often cited as the turning point in the Pacific.

Since April 1947, a ceremonial "roll call" has honored the eighty Doolittle Raiders. Ted Cocoran with the Greater Fort Walton Beach Chamber of Commerce and Dr. Devin Stephenson of Northwest Florida State College (Home of the Raiders) hosted the "Final Doolittle Raiders Goblet" ceremony. It marked the passing of Doolittle Raider, Col. (ret.) Richard E. "Dick" Cole. This event also celebrated the Air Force's 75th Anniversary by the Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC).

Ted Corcoran's heart seems to skip a beat at the mention of the Doolittle Raiders. Talking with him is like conversing with a Doolittle historian and cheerleader. One of Ted's many insights: "My awakening to the significance of the Raiders started in 2006. Since then, I have come to love the Raiders as a group and individually on a personal level. I am proud that the Chamber was able to bring the Raiders to this area in 2008, 2013, and finally in 2022. It is important to me to educate the community concerning their history by bringing the knowledge of the Raiders to the forefront. I am thrilled to have played my part in getting them to be relevant again in this area after being overlooked for far too long."

Okaloosa County and the Raiders. The Doolittle Raiders trained at Eglin field in 1942. Although the Army/Air Force had just formed in 1941, AFSOC considers the Doolittle raid the first special operations mission. The Raiders held their 15th reunion here in 1957, and they returned in 1968 for their 26th reunion. They then vanished off our radars until Ed Horton (crew 10) moved to Ft. Walton Beach. In the late 1990s, the local newspaper mentioned that Ed's wife had passed away, thus preventing him from attending future reunions.

Wes Fields, a gunner at Hurlbert Field and an auxiliary sheriff's deputy, read the newspaper article. He volunteered to transport Ed to future reunions. The Raiders honored Wes by making him director of Raider security. In 2006, Wes introduced Ed Horton to Ted Corcoran, who soon realized the significance of that encounter. Ted watched his relationship with the Raiders bud and blossom after attending the 2007 and 2008 Raider reunions.

In 2008, only eight of the 80 raiders remained, so the Chamber created a special event called "The Homecoming" on May 29-31, 2008. The Homecoming became the reintroduction and re-engagement of the Raiders with the Okaloosa County community. In 2013, Ft. Walton Beach would host the final reunion, and the five remaining Raiders attended.

The Goblets. For the annual reunion on April 18, 1959, the city of Tucson created 80 silver Goblets. The goblets bore the Raider names printed upright and upside down. At each reunion, the living Raiders toasted their fallen brethren. After a Raider passed, his goblet was inverted. A final toast with the last three Raiders took place in November 2013.

Two years later, Congress bestowed the Congressional Gold Medal upon the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders "for outstanding heroism, valor, skill, and service to the United States in conducting their bombings of Tokyo." The last living Raider, Colonel (ret.) Dick Cole died on April 9, 2019, at 103 years old! He was co-pilot of the lead plane with Colonel Doolittle. Covid delayed the Final Goblet Ceremony for several years, with the Ft. Walton Beach Chamber chosen to host the Final Goblet Ceremony.

The Ceremony. The featured attendees at the Final Goblet Ceremony included the family of Col. Dick Cole along with the other Doolittle Raider families. The historic ceremony was honored by the presence of the Air Force's top brass: Secretary of the Air Force, Frank Kendall III; Chief of Staff of the Air Force, Gen. CQ Brown, Jr.; Lt. Gen. Jim Slife, commander of Air Force Special Operations Command; and Lt. Gen. Brad Webb, commander of AETC. Secretary Kendall said of the Doolittle Raiders, "Like many of the greatest generation, they saw it as their duty and accepted it without any regret."

In recognition of the Air Force's 75th Anniversary, sixteen local active-duty and distinguished veterans were honored to represent the legacy of each Doolittle crew and the contributions of fellow Airmen to the rich history of the United States Air Force.  

Lt. Col. (ret.) Rich Cole, son of Col. Richard E. "Dick" Cole, performed the ritual of turning over his father's goblet—the final goblet to be inverted. He shared the family's statement, "The Cole family is deeply honored and appreciative of the Okaloosa County Community hosting the Goblet Ceremony for our Dad .... We are thankful to celebrate this moment in the city where it all began." The National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright Patterson AFB in Ohio permanently displays the Goblets.

Later that evening, thousands of onlookers witnessed the historic beach flyover celebrating this momentous occasion. The aerial review took place over Okaloosa Island, featuring 30 vintage and current U.S. Air Force aircraft like the following: a B-25 Mitchell bomber, a B-52 Stratofortress, an F-22 Raptor, an F-35 Lightning Stealth Fighter, a C-130 Hercules Transport, a CV-22 Osprey, a B1 Lancer Bomber, 2 F-15s and two Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters. Lt. Col. Cole piloted the lead plane.

Read the article 

Friday, May 20, 2022

A Pastor's Ponderings: (May 2022) Dr. Doug Stauffer, Journalist

 A Pastor's Ponderings: A Tribute to My Mom and Moms Everywhere

By Pastor Doug Stauffer
Faith Independent Baptist Church
Journalist for Bay Life Newspaper
May 2022--Article 19 (2022-05-019)

I lost my mom last Mother's Day (2021) to complications following surgery. The loss was painful, but I don't believe that future Mother's Days should become a day of sadness and mourning. Quite the opposite! I prefer to consider Mother's Day as a special tribute, remembrance, and recognition. My mom was a beloved mother of four and a treasured grandmother, great grandmother, wife, and friend.

She was born in Erding, Germany, just outside of Munich, two years before the onset of WWII. She loved to read, and the library was her home away from home. She directly impacted me with that same passion, greatly influencing my life and career. For 20 years, she and my dad were snowbird RVers.

Two months before her death, my mom and dad celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary. Thankfully, my dad will spend this Mother's Day with us here in Niceville. One of the many personalized sympathy cards expressed the commonly held sentiments about my mom.

"God saw she was getting tired, and a cure was not to be,
so he put his arms around her and whispered, 'Come with me.'
With tearful eyes, I watched her suffer and saw her fade away.
Although I loved her dearly, I could not make her stay.
A golden heart stopped beating, hard-working hands to rest,
God broke my heart to prove that He only takes the best."

Truly, heart-rending words to read again! Like so many others in our communities, my mom was a military spouse, and I would be remiss not to remind everyone of their sacrifices during deployments. In 1967, my father was stationed at Andrews Air Force Base and volunteered to go to Vietnam with the 7th Air Force—1967/1968.

My 29-year-old mom was left with three pre-teen type-A boys, a new puppy and giving birth to my sister. While my dad was there, the Vietcong attacked every major city and base during the TET Offensive. I am proud of his Bronze Star, but my mom should have received the Parental Distinguished Service Medal for conspicuous gallantry. We must NEVER forget the tremendous sacrifices of those who do not wear the stars, the bars and the stripes but keep the home fires burning.

To close on a lighter note: here are seven truths my mom taught us:

1. HOW TO PRAY: After spilling grape juice on the carpet, she instructed, "You better pray the stain will come out."

2. PLAN AHEAD: "Make sure you wear clean underwear because you could be in an accident."

3. LIFE'S PARADOXES: "Keep laughing, and I'll give you something to cry about."

4. HOW TO PERSEVERE: "You'll sit there 'til all that spinach is finished."

5. SPOTTING SEVERE WEATHER PATTERNS: "It looks like a tornado swept through your room."

6. THE CIRCLE OF LIFE: "I brought you into this world, and I can take you out."

7. EMPATHY: "There are millions of less fortunate children who don't have it as good as you do!"

Pick up the phone or visit your mom this Mother's Day. Tell her that you love her because you are not guaranteed unlimited opportunities. The Bible exhorts every generation, "Hearken unto thy father that begat thee, and despise not thy mother when she is old" (Proverbs 23:22). Happy Mother's Day. 

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Raiders Win the 2021-22 National Championship! -- Coach of the Year Named; New Coach Hired (May 2022-18) Dr. Doug Stauffer, Journalist

Raiders Win the 2021-22 National Championship! -- Coach of the Year Named; New Coach Hired

By Pastor Doug Stauffer
Faith Independent Baptist Church
Journalist for Bay Life Newspaper
May 2022--Article 18 (2022-05-18)

Youth and inexperience, frequently a recipe for sports disaster, turned into a miracle in the making. Coach Greg Heiar (affectionately called GH) and his youthful Raiders overcame every obstacle. With little experience playing at the college level, the Raiders reached the pinnacle of success—their crowning as the 2022 NJCAA Men's Division I Basketball National Champions! For the third time in school history, the Northwest Florida State College Raiders men's basketball team claimed the cherished title.

The Raiders received an at-large bid to the national tournament, which meant they had to compete head-to-head against the country's top-tiered teams. Over six days, they had to win (and did win) all five games. This turnaround team consisted primarily of freshmen who had never played college basketball. They recorded 25 more wins over the previous year's 6-15 record to finish with a magnificent 31 wins and only five losses.

This team was built from scratch and described as fearless, determined, and tough. The team represents five countries on three continents. Dr. Devin Stephenson said of the program and the college, "To be the best of the best is a standard that we strive for in everything. Unrealistic expectations become the foundation for growth." Dr. Stephenson also took the opportunity to present the AIM award (Advancing Institutional Mission) to Coach Heiar and the Director of Athletics, Ramsey Ross, for their "commitment to improving lives in our community and great efforts to champion NWFSC's mission, vision and values."  

Deshawndre Washington was named the national tournament's Most Valuable Player. Washington, Brennan Rigby and Kam Woods were all named to the All-Tournament Team. Of course, GH was named Coach of the Tournament as the best bench boss at the national tournament. He was also recognized as the conference and national coach of the year. This championship is NWFSC's first men's national title since 2015. Soon after the win, Coach Heiar accepted a position as head coach at New Mexico State. So, how does the future look for men's basketball? Glad you asked!

Guess who is returning to take over the reins? Yes, the coach of the 2015 National Championship team. Coach Steve DeMeo was the Raider's head coach from 2013 to 2019, with an astonishing 170-27 record. During those six years, NWFSC was the winningest JUCO men's program. During his tenure at NWFSC, Coach DeMeo's teams won five Panhandle Conference titles, four FCSAA state championships, three national final four appearances, and in 2015, the NJCAA National Championship. Under his leadership, the Raiders also made three Elite Eight appearances and a 2017 Final Four appearance. The future? Shining like the sun!

Dr. Stephenson commented on Coach DeMeo’s return: "We are pleased to welcome back Coach DeMeo as the men's head basketball coach."  "Northwest Florida State College strives to produce the best student-athletes in this region by providing them with the support, leadership, and resources they need to excel on and off the court. We are confident that they will continue to develop and succeed under Coach DeMeo's leadership and are excited to see what is in store for them next season."

Ramsey Ross voiced the same sentiments: "Our College feels incredibly fortunate to have Coach DeMeo lead our men's basketball program again. His previous tenure here was extraordinary, and we could not be more excited to see what awaits in the next chapter. It was important to us to sustain the tremendous momentum of our men's basketball program from this past season, and we feel bringing Coach DeMeo back to the Raider community does just that." You can become a part of Raider Nation too. 

Read the newspaper (page19)

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Golden Anniversary 919th SOW (May 2022-17) Dr. Doug Stauffer, Journalist

Golden Anniversary: 919th Special Operations Wing

By Pastor Doug Stauffer
Faith Independent Baptist Church
Journalist for Bay Life Newspaper
May 2022--Article 17 (2022-05-17)

They say blood runs thicker than water, but I witnessed what happens when colleagues choose to create an enduring bond. With its many branches, this extended family of the 919th Special Operations Wing (SOW) showed the heights achieved through genuine solidarity. I had the distinct pleasure of interacting with one of Okaloosa County's largest families. While they are not literal siblings, they are affectionately known as "America's Citizen Air Commandos." The future is bright because we have men and women willing to serve and sacrifice without much recognition. At the outset, may I express a heartfelt thanks to the 919th SOW from each of us?

One word encapsulates this unit: Camaraderie—I sensed this truth at the informal family Wing Day and the formal anniversary banquet. Yet, these two events hardly scratch the surface of who they are and what they mean to all Americans. The close bonds extend from top to bottom—starting with the Wing Commander throughout the entire organization.

They sacrifice to support the nation's defences at home and at distant points around the globe. The Wing Commander is Colonel Jason Grandy. He stated that "We perform thirteen unique missions and serve as the only Reserve Wing with such a diverse mission. We pride ourselves as quiet professionals; we do not work for the praise, but we want to do a good job because that is what we do. The human capital in our Wing is exceptional." Like most true professionals, he leads by example.

The 919th Special Operations Wing, located at Eglin Air Force Base Field 3 (Duke Field), is the only special operations Wing in the Air Force Reserve. The Wing supports the Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) and the Air Force Reserve Command (AFRC). Its taskings include operations, maintenance, security forces, civil engineering, communications, logistics, supply, transportation services and personnel functions. As Colonel Grandy mentioned, it is the most diverse Wing in the Air Force Reserve Command, performing 13 unique missions.

There are approximately 1,700 members assigned to the 919th Special Operations Wing. Over 1,400 of those are part-time reservists. The Air Reserve Technicians (ARTs) provide the full-time continuity and support to keep the units and members combat-ready. ARTs carry dual status as full-time civil service employees for the U.S. Air Force and participate as reservists. More than 300 ARTs and 47 civilians support the Wing in day-to-day operations.

As the only special operations unit in the Air Force Reserve, the unit has supported Operation Just Cause, Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, Operation Uphold Democracy, Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation New Dawn. The 919th Security Forces Squadron was the first Air Force Reserve unit to be activated to support Operation Enduring Freedom.

Family Wing Day: The Niceville Valparaiso Chamber of Commerce partnered with Duke Field to celebrate its 50th Anniversary. The Chamber's business community donated the funds to provide free "Nice-cream" from Dippin' Dots for the attendees of Family Day. Tricia Brunson, President and CEO of the Niceville Valparaiso Chamber, expressed her appreciation for the 919th with the following comment.

"The mission of Duke Field is to serve, protect and defend our nation. Its proximity to us makes it an integral part of our local economy. They are our friends and neighbors. Their children are students in our schools; their spouses fill employment needs for our businesses, while many reservists work full-time jobs within our community. The 919th Special Operations Wing has been there for us for 50 years, standing ready to keep us safe and our nation strong. They provide us peace of mind while we provide them with a sense of home—a signature asset of Okaloosa County."

The 50th Anniversary Banquet: "50 Years of Valor" was the theme for the evening as the 919th SOW wrapped up the weekend of celebrations with a formal gala. Lt. Colonel James Wilson, the 919th Chief of Public Affairs, said, "The 919th Special Operations Wing is one of the most decorated units in the Reserve. Since the unit's activation in 1971, Reservists from Duke Field have earned 20 Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards for organizational excellence. Today's standards are closely tied to those pioneers who established the Air Force Reserve's presence at Duke Field more than 50 years ago. This weekend is our opportunity to honor and thank them for showing us what it means to be the 'Best of the Best.'"

Retirees, former commanders, current leaders and everyone in attendance enjoyed reminiscing and learning about the rich history and mission of Duke Field.  Major General Richard S. "Beef" Haddad gave an inspirational speech. Community leaders, Jerry Williams, President/CEO of Eglin Federal Credit Union (EFCU) and the Military Affairs Chair, Teresa Halverson, expressed gratitude for our local military.

The late Brig. Gen. Donald Haugen, the 919th's founding member, created the 919th Tactical Airlift Group in 1971. Judy Haugen is considered the First Lady of the 919th. She is the mother of retired Lt. Colonel Brian Haugen of the Taylor Haugen Foundation. The evening wrapped up by highlighting several annual award winners from the 919th, with Colonel Grandy bringing the closing remarks. 

I caught up with EFCU's Jerry Williams, a major supporter of the anniversary celebrations like so many other community events. "Our loyalty to the military stems from the fact that EFCU's exists because of the military. The credit union was birthed in 1954 because of the military institutions in this area. Many of our employees have worked for the credit union while serving in the Reserve at the 919th. Presently we have two employees in the 919th—they are serving our members one day and our country the next. We are honored to play a small part in such a magnificent endeavor."

Did you know that Niceville Mayor Henkel is a retired Air Commando? The next time you see him, be sure to express your sincere appreciation for his service.

Read the newspaper (page 1 and 2)

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

A Pastor's Ponderings: (April 2022) Dr. Doug Stauffer, Journalist

 A Pastor's Ponderings: Called to be Resurrection Witnesses

By Pastor Doug Stauffer
Faith Independent Baptist Church
Journalist for Bay Life Newspaper
April 2022--Article 16 (2022-04-016)

Easter or Resurrection Sunday? So, why a distinction? Some believers refer to Easter as Resurrection Sunday, and for good reason. The Christian's blessed hope resides in two stages: 1. Christ's resurrection from death, hell, and the grave almost two thousand years ago. 2. The resurrection of believers when we unite with Him.

 Interestingly, the Bible refers to Easter only once. "Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church. And when he had apprehended (Peter), he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people (Acts 12:1-4 KJV). This pagan king (Herod) planned on waiting until he celebrated Easter to kill another Christian.

I have never seen the resurrected Christ, but by faith, I know that one day I will meet Him face-to-face. I know this because the Bible tells me so, but far too many people have never heard. I speak this to my shame because God gives believers the power to be His witnesses. "But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me" (Acts 1:8a).

Believing the gospel requires faith, and the resurrection is one aspect of the gospel consisting of Christ's death, burial, and resurrection. "Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel…By which also ye are saved…how that Christ died for our sins…And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day" (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). The gospel that saves is simply someone believing (and trusting) in Christ's atoning sacrifice: trusting in His death, burial and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins and eternal life.

We are to be witnesses. Judas Iscariot betrayed the Lord for thirty pieces of silver. After his betrayal, he took his own life, and a replacement had to be chosen. I want us to consider the charge for his replacement: one must be ordained to witness or preach Christ's resurrection, "from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection (Acts 1:22b). Every believer is given this same charge—to be His witness.

Peter repeatedly testified that all the believers were witnesses of Christ's resurrection. "This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses" (Acts 2:32). "And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses" (Acts 3:15). The Bible sums it up: "And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus (Acts 4:33a).

 "The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. 31 Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. 32 And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him" (Acts 5:30-32). 

Paul testifying the same truth. "But God raised him from the dead: 31 And he was seen many days of them which came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are his witnesses unto the people" (Acts 13:30-31).

So…Happy Resurrection Day! Be a witness to a world desperately looking for hope, desperately looking for answers. Keep looking up for our redemption draweth nigh.