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September 2019

Homemade Faith


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Sailor's Call

By Rafael Barney


I have been in military ministry for most of my naval career, which started in the year 2000. I was in Meridian, Mississippi, at the religious program specialist school when terrorists brought down the Twin Towers in Manhattan. (I was born in Queens.) I deployed to the Middle East shortly after on the U.S.S. John C. Stennis (CVN74) as a member of the religious ministries department.

After that tour, I deployed with Marines to Fallujah, Iraq, to provide our warriors an avenue to seek out spiritual growth. These challenging tours gave me the resilience and assurance that serving God is what matters most in the short life we are given.

The direct call to chaplaincy came when I was the administrative leading chief petty officer in the Pentagon for the Navy Chief of Chaplains office. While there, during routine workday activities, I logged a book that arrived in the mail for our admiral. It was The Blessing of Adversity by retired Admiral and former Chief of Chaplains Barry Black. I asked the admiral if I could read it, and he gave me permission. While reading this book, I felt God’s call and direction for what lay ahead as a minister versus administrator. I immediately enrolled (Spring 2011) in a Masters of Divinity program, which I completed in May 2018.


Military ministry is a unique vocation. Those who embark on this calling must be willing to leave their comfortable communities to embrace an unknown adventure. Those serving in the chaplaincy are serving on the mission field for our Lord’s Kingdom. Being a Navy chaplain opens doors of ministry, not only within the U.S. Navy, but also within the U.S. Marine Corps, the U.S. Coast Guard, and the Merchant Marines. The diversity of that mission field is why I did not choose the U.S. Army or Air Force chaplaincies.

The Barney tribe (pictured above) is a family of six including my wife Tatiana and four little ones. Thanks to their resilience, and my wife’s loving support, we are seeking to represent Christ directly as a U.S. Navy chaplain. Genesis 2:8 gives us insight regarding how important wives are to their husbands. I thank God every day for placing this beautiful, loving, and warm-hearted Christian (baptized at Casa de Dios FWB Church in Woodbridge, Virginia) woman in my life. It is thanks to her constant support and God’s infinite grace and love I continue to pursue His call to serve as a chaplain.

About the Writer: Rafael Barney is currently serving in the navy as he works to fulfill all requirements to become a full time chaplain. Learn more about the chaplaincy:


©2019 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists