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2009 Conversations

Sara Groves

Keith and Kristyn Getty

Jesse Miranda

Heather Bland

Cathleen Lewis

Robert Leathers

Ravi Zacharias

Scotty Gibbons

George O. Wood

George O. Wood

G. Robert Cook Jr.

Michelle LaRowe Conover

Janet Boynes

Kirk Cameron

Laura Wilkinson

Melody Rossi

Randy Travis

Maylo Upton-Aames

Chuck Norris

Francis Xavier 'Chip' Flaherty Jr.

Ben Carson

Robert H. Spence

Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Schloesser

R. Albert Mohler Jr.

James K. Bridges

Manny Mill

Brock Gill

Robert Burt

Gerry Hindy

J.I. Packer

Stanley Horton

Linda Mintle

Joanna Weaver

Buck Taylor

Debra Risner

Bill Glass

Edward Gilbreath

Rob Seagears and Andy Casper

2007 Conversations

2006 Conversations

Conversation: Robert Burt

TPExtra: Listen to our podcast with Rear Adm. Robert Burt.

Part one:

Part two:

High-seas ministry

Rear Adm. Robert F. Burt is the Navy Chief of Chaplains. A seven-year veteran of Naval service prior to becoming a chaplain, Burt has received the Legion of Merit, the Meritorious Service Medal (three awards), Navy Commendation Medal (two awards) and various service and campaign awards. He is an ordained minister of the Open Bible Churches. Burt recently visited with Editor Ken Horn.

tpe: What led you toward ministry and chaplaincy?

BURT: After nearly three years at the University of Oregon I decided to join the Navy. A lot of my friends were in Vietnam and serving at that time. I was enlisted in the Navy seven years, and God gave me a burden for military ministry during that time. I saw the impact the chaplain had on the entire ship and I felt God was saying, This is what I want you to do.

tpe: What assignments led to this current position?

BURT: I began my chaplaincy service in the Navy in 1981. I ministered in Puerto Rico for three years then went to sea on the USS Arkansas, a nuclear-powered guided-missile cruiser. I served in a training command and did some recruiting for Navy chaplains before returning to sea on the USS Kansas City. We were in the middle of Desert Storm by then. I next went to Submarine Base Bangor and rode all the Trident submarines there. I grew to understand the different personalities of the different communities in the Navy — aviation, submarines, surface.

I served as a regimental chaplain with First Marines at Camp Pendleton and was two years with Fleet Marine Force Pacific before moving to Chicago and the training center there. All the recruits now who come into the Navy go through Great Lakes, so you get to minister to all these new sailors and it’s an awesome opportunity to help them get themselves established spiritually right at their inception into the Navy.

More recently I was the Chaplain Corps Detailer where I helped detail every chaplain to their next assignment. It was a good job and I got to know so many chaplains in the Corps. From there I went out to be the Pacific Fleet Chaplain, which is really one of our most demanding jobs in the Navy Chaplains Corps, and while there was selected to be the new Deputy Chief of Navy Chaplains, Chaplain of the Marine Corps. I did that for almost three years and then fleeted up to be the chief in 2006.

I’ve served as a chaplain 26 years now. My son-in-law commented the other day (he’s been a firefighter for 16 years), “Dad, I don’t know how you’ve maintained your passion for what you’re doing.” I took it as a high compliment he could see my love for this ministry today that I had when I started.

tpe: What is involved in serving as Chief of Navy Chaplains?

BURT: I serve the Secretary of the Navy and the Chief of Naval Operations by overseeing the recruitment, training and equipping of chaplains. We have 860 authorized billets [jobs] for active duty chaplains and we have almost 400 reserve chaplains. My job is to keep those billets full. I’ve visited Assemblies of God Theological Seminary as part of that search for recruits. We have our chaplains’ school at Newport, R.I.

I would encourage anyone looking for opportunities to minister as a chaplain to pray about it and let God guide you. Most seminaries, including Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, have programs that prepare you for military chaplaincy or actually any institutional chaplaincy. I don’t know how ministry could be any more exciting.

I do a lot of traveling and get to see chaplains in service around the world. Our chaplains are doing such a great job. Navy chaplains serve Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard, so we have the sea services. It’s an unbelievably exciting position.

Our nation in its early stages was concerned enough about the spiritual welfare and growth of our people in uniform that our forefathers mandated chaplains be present in the Army and the Navy. We’re in all the branches, and we’ve been doing this now for 232 years.

tpe: How can we support our military, military families and our chaplains?

BURT: Wherever I travel I encounter people who will go out of their way to approach me and say, “Thank you for your service.” The chaplains and service members I’m with often wear their uniforms in the airport, and people come up all the time to thank them. The cards, letters and gifts people send to our Marines, soldiers, airmen and sailors serving overseas are wonderful.

I believe support right now for our young men and women in uniform is phenomenal. These young Americans are putting their lives on the line to defend freedom — not only in this nation, but around the world. This nation has demonstrated tremendous support for our military personnel and families.

Churches can play a very supportive and helpful role. When there’s a family and someone deploys, the ones who stay home need support. We’re finding great support in our churches and community organizations.

tpe: How has the Lord helped you during your recent battle with cancer?

BURT: About a month after I had assumed the position of Chief of Navy Chaplains I had a physical. Biopsies confirmed cancer in my bone marrow and they estimated about 65 percent of my bone marrow was affected. I began with a drug treatment immediately. After four months another bone marrow biopsy showed the cancer down enough to where an intense chemotherapy and stem cell transplant was the next step. They took my good stem cells, gave me a day to rest and then hit me with an intense chemo treatment. They reinfused my stem cells. At my six-month checkup they gave me a clean bill of health.

It was probably the most challenging event in my life. As chaplains we are constantly encouraging our people to have faith, use faith, be empowered, know that God is with you. Paul talked about the grace of God being sufficient and that God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness. I found out firsthand that truly the grace of God is sufficient for the day. When I was struggling I asked God to give me the strength for just that day; I didn’t need it for the next day or the next week or the next month. “See me through today,” I would pray, and God was so faithful.

When we live day by day trusting God for all the little things in life, then when the big things come along our faith is multiplied to the point we know God is going to take care of us.

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