CAMP FOSTER, OKINAWA, Japan --
“The Apostle Paul tells us, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive,’ in Acts 20:32-35,” quoted Lt. Cmdr. Jason D. Owen, the chapel pastor for the Camp Courtney chapel, when asked about the importance of donating to those in need.
Chapels across Marine Corps Installations Pacific united to donate $31,540 to individuals in need along with numerous local, Okinawa charities and organizations to include orphanages, food banks and churches. In total, more than 40 charities received donations with about half going to Japanese organizations and half to American organizations.
Chapels receive money through a Religious Offering Fund which is established within the Command Religious Team to enable communities of faith that meet at the installation chapels to make voluntary monetary donations as a religious expression.
“As congregations gather funds, they make regular donations to nonprofit organizations that meet the requirements of the governing instruction,” said Cmdr. John D. Ault, the MCIPAC deputy chaplain. “We also conduct a yearly spend-down of the ROF to ensure that the monetary donations are used as intended for benevolent giving and congregational life and not building up within the account.”
The communities of faith were brought together by their respective chaplains and collectively decided where the donations would go.
“If there was not a unanimous decision, that organization fell off the list,” said Lt. Cmdr. Daniel Chung, the Headquarters and Support Battalion chaplain and the chapel pastor for the Protestant Service on Camp Foster, also known as Grace Hill. “The members of Grace Hill were most enthusiastic about supporting three local Okinawa charities, and wanted to give more if they could. Their heart and desire made all this possible.”
Owen, who also serves as the supervisory chaplain for Camp Courtney, Hansen and Schwab chapels also emphasized the importance of letting the members choose where the funds would ultimately end up.
“We decided to donate to specific charities, per the desires of the parishioners,” he said. “Our first intent was to give to organizations committed to sharing the love of God in Jesus Christ; second intent was to reach out to those in need of help, physically and economically.”
The chaplains emphasized that their offerings were a direct result of their faith.
“God teaches us in his Word to give to those in need,” said Lt. Cmdr. Lloyd O. Solomon, the Gospel Service pastor on Camp Foster. “We give because it is the right thing to do as people of faith.”
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, interactions between the chapels and the local organizations were limited to an informal ceremony where the chapels presented a check to the organization’s representative. However, Chung said that he is eager to build stronger relationships with the local community.
“These donations, to me at least, are not the focal point of Grace Hill’s outreach,” Chung said. “It is what we will do face-to-face, side-by-side with our neighbors that I’m looking forward to.”