Connections: Scott McChrystal
Nov. 9, 2014
Coming to Christ
Chaplain Col. (Ret.) Scott McChrystal serves as the military/VA representative for the Chaplaincy Department of the Assemblies of God. McChrystal ministered as a chaplain in various action theaters and as head chaplain at West Point before retiring from the Army in 2005 and joining the AG Chaplaincy Department. He spoke recently with Scott Harrup, Pentecostal Evangel managing editor.
evangel: What led you into a military career?
SCOTT McCHRYSTAL: I grew up in a military family, the oldest of six kids. All four of my brothers served; my sister married a West Pointer, so she was in the military as much as anybody. Dad was a two-star general when he retired. He had served two tours in Vietnam, as well as with the State Department and at the Pentagon.
evangel: What led you to Christ?
McCHRYSTAL: In August 1972, I returned from Vietnam. I met Judy, and we dated for about seven or eight months and became engaged. Neither of us had gone to church with any regularity, but we wanted a church wedding. The Baptist church where we married required premarital counseling.
In early June 1973, on the second meeting I had with Pastor Ralph Holt, he asked me, “Do you know Jesus as your personal Savior?”
“Sir,” I replied honestly, “I don’t have a clue what you just asked me. Could you please explain?”
For two days I thought about what he told me. It all made sense. I knew I was a sinner. I called him back and said I would like to come in and pray to accept Christ.
Before we met, Judy had accepted Christ at a Nicky Cruz evangelistic meeting, so we were a Christian couple when we married. We’ve never questioned that decision.
evangel: You later experienced the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Talk about that.
McCHRYSTAL: In 1980, I was teaching ROTC at The Citadel in Charleston, S.C. Judy and I were going to an Assemblies of God church nearby, and I started volunteering. I taught Sunday School and became the Christian Education director.
One Sunday night offered more time at the altar. I decided the Baptism was for me. I came with the mentality that if it took all night and if it was for me, I’d do it.
At the altar call, about 20 of us went up out of a crowd of about 80 people. I had already set the standard I felt I should follow in seeking the Baptism. I would be quiet, stay in the corner, and pray privately so that no one would notice. Everything was just the opposite.
Two things happened during that time. First, as I was speaking in tongues, I couldn’t believe God was doing this. I was amazed. I knew how I had lived my life before coming to Christ, and yet God was willing to fill me with His Spirit.
Second, I felt a call to full-time ministry. God honored that call by leading me to seminary studies, a series of chaplaincy posts in the Army that culminated at West Point, and now these last years of serving the Assemblies of God and our AG chaplains and veterans.
evangel: Veterans are very close to your heart. What needs in their community do you seek to address?
McCHRYSTAL: Following our conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, I believe our veterans’ spiritual and emotional needs, as well as their families’ needs, will become ever more clear in the years ahead.
Many personal issues and challenges arise long after a man or woman has come home from the battlefield. I want to see our churches really supply support, because the church is the best-postured organization in the world to do this.