Chaplains provide support to service members and military families and ensure religious rights are observed in the Army community. They perform many duties, from conducting religious services and leading marriage retreats to deploying in combat zones with infantry units. They work to make the Army stronger by helping to strengthen the individuals who make up our community as a whole.
Meet Maj. Kevin Hovan, Family Life Chaplain for USAG Bavaria. Chaplain Hovan has spent the last 11 years as an Army chaplain helping Soldiers and their families and looks forward to serving the USAG Bavaria communities.
We asked Chaplain Hovan some questions about his calling to become a chaplain and what the future holds for him here in Bavaria.
Why did you become a chaplain?
I’ve always had an interest in military “stuff.” Even as a civilian pastor, nearly every one of my sermons included illustrations from military history. During the summer of 2001, I visited my brother at Fort Jackson and on a whim — I was already a pastor — stopped by the U.S. Army Chaplain Center and School. I spoke to a chaplain there about Army chaplaincy and one of my college professors who was a Reserve Chaplain. I decided to join the ranks of U.S. Army Chaplains. Needless to say, my congregation was not surprised by the announcement.
What does being a chaplain mean to you?
It is all about bringing Soldiers to God and God to Soldiers. This is such a special place for pastors to share the love of Jesus in tangible ways. It’s not about past answers or platitudes. It’s about getting in there and living life with people where the “rubber meets the road.” It’s about bearing each other’s burdens and helping people succeed at this thing we call life, because unlike Hasbro’s game of life, real life is no game.
Do you have a favorite Bible verse?
Wow, there are so many! I like John 11:35 (Jesus wept), because it’s the shortest verse and doesn’t challenge my memory too much, but it also demonstrates the depth of Jesus’ humanity and his real emotions and empathy to human pain and suffering. It’s an example for us to follow. Realistically, though, my fallback is Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” It’s a recognition of both my lack of power and ability and God’s great power and ability. Not only that, it is recognition that God offers that strength to us, which can make the impossible very possible.
What role do you think chaplains play in the community?
We are the Soldiers who ensure all Soldiers have the opportunity to freely practice their religious observances. We’re the shepherds. Just like a shepherd will actively scan his flock to ensure all are safe and accounted for, so does the chaplain scan his or her community for dangers or members in pain or trouble. We enhance community health and mission readiness by seeking the broken in order to lift them up to health and to put in place measures to help our neighbors avoid dangers along this journey we call life.
What has been the most memorable event or incident as an Army chaplain?
There are a number of memorable events, but one that really strikes a chord with me was an event that took place during my first deployment as our time came to a close. One of our platoons had a girl in their area of operation whose legs were amputated by an IED that also killed her brother. A staff sergeant contacted me about it and I was able to contact the State Department’s Provincial Reconstruction Team leader. Before we redeployed, through the coordination of the PRT, Shahad was flown to Baghdad and fit for prosthetics and was able to walk again. It was amazing to see the morale rise in those Soldiers through that act of compassion.
Where do you go from here?
Simply put, I go where God sends me and work to “bloom where I’m planted.”