Rev. Joe Kamphuis, pastor of Chelwood Christian Reformed Church in Albuquerque, N.M., will be deployed to Kuwait this July to serve as an Air Force chaplain. Kamphuis has pastored Chelwood CRC for seven years while also serving as a chaplain with the New Mexico Air National Guard for the past six years. This is Kamphuis’s first deployment. Kamphuis sees this deployment as a way to serve his state and nation.
Kamphuis said he resisted a calling to chaplaincy for several years before accepting that “serving Christ’s kingdom in a pluralistic environment is what I am created to do.” Kamphuis believes that his primary calling is to be a peacemaker and a minister of reconciliation. In 2015, Kamphuis wrote on Chelwood CRC’s church blog about the privilege of serving alongside the men and women of the Air National Guard. Their willingness to lay down their lives for the cause of freedom reminds him of Jesus’ willingness to lay down his life. “We each vow [in “The Airman’s Creed”] that if necessary we will defend this state and our nation to the cost of our lives. This is love; this is great love; in fact Jesus said there is no greater love than this.”
In 2017, Classis Red Mesa, the regional group of churches to which Chelwood CRC belongs, gave permission for Kamphuis to work fulltime as a chaplain while ministering as a pastor. Pastor Jerome Sandoval has shared the pulpit with Kamphuis, providing him with the freedom to perform chaplain duties. Donnie Begay, joint director of Nations Movement, a campus ministry, will join Sandoval as a regular minister of the Word at Chelwood CRC during the six-month absence of Kamphuis. Other pastors from within the classis and lay members will also be asked to take on worship responsibilities. Kamphuis said, “I believe my absence will encourage members to step up, lead, and discover the unique gifts God has given the body of Christ.”