Dr. Ronnie R. Tejada, 2LT, CH, USAR Chaplain Shares with Us His Story
Ten years ago, during my freshman year attending the Bible School at Los Angeles, California, the Lord put a desire in my heart to serve in the military as a Chaplain. Before migrating to the United States, I worked onboard a cruise ship as a Deck/Technical Clerk. As the office administrator in our department, many crew members, both ratings and officers, would come to my office seeking assistance. I enjoyed helping other people even before I gave my life to Christ. However, while working on board, I went through the toughest years in my life. God restored me from brokenness and depression resulted from devastating divorce from my first marriage. The Lord truly is the God of Restoration!
God wants me to share the message of hope to others through my personal testimony. Knowing and understanding very well the conditions of the sailors and the soldiers alike, naturally, I wanted to join the U.S. Navy Chaplaincy. However, I wasn’t eligible to join the military during that time due to my immigration status. Besides, I just started in the ministry and I definitely needed more trainings and experiences.
I knew in my heart that one day the Lord would open the door for me to serve in the military chaplaincy. And so as preparation, from 2009 to 2019, while waiting for my Green Card, with God’s help, I was able to earn various Biblical and Theological Degrees such as Doctor of Theology and Master of Theology from Endtime Ministries International Bible University, Ministerial Diploma in Biblical Studies from Angelus Bible Institute, Certificate of Chaplaincy from Promise Christian University, and Certificate of Biblical Studies from California Bible University. After I received my ordination from Full Gospel Assemblies International last 2015, the following year, my Permanent Resident Card has finally arrived. The same year, 2016, the Lord has called me to serve as a Lead Pastor at New Level Church. In 2019, I was also hired by Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital in Santa Clarita, California to serve as a Hospital Chaplain. From this moment, the Lord put a very strong conviction in my heart to pursue my calling in the military chaplaincy.
During the “Stay-at-Home Order” as a result of the pandemic, I felt that the Lord was telling me that now is the perfect time to serve in the military as a Chaplain. I contacted both the Army and the Navy Chaplain Recruiting Stations. The U.S. Navy did not accept my application due to their age limit. On the other hand, the U.S. Army recruiter diligently pursued my application and encouraged me to apply for the Chaplain Candidate Program. I was overage and overweight in the beginning of the process, but there’s one thing that I’m sure of, if God is really calling me to serve in the military chaplaincy, He will provide the way to make it happen.
Within few months, the Lord helped me acquire all the necessary requirements to apply for the position. In July 2020, I received my U.S. Citizenship. I also lost a lot of weight and was able to pass the Medical Exam (MEPS) three months later. In addition, they approved the age-waiver so I can be qualified for the position. One of the most important requirements that I needed to provide was the Ecclesiastical Endorsement. I applied for it from the Chaplaincy of Full Gospel Churches. Since I had my ordination from Full Gospel Assemblies International, they approved my application swiftly. Last January 14, 2021, I took the official Oath of Office to serve as 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Army Chaplain Corps. Truly, the Lord provided the way so I can fulfill His higher calling (a call within a call) to serve in the U.S. Army Chaplaincy!
I still remember when the Chairman of Full Gospel Assemblies International, Pastor Simeon Strauser, laid his hands on me. He prayed for me, quoting a passage of Scripture in Isaiah 6:8, “Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.” As I vowed to the Lord fifteen years ago, my response to His calling remains the same, “With all I am, I am Yours forever, oh God!” Hallelujah!