“My mission is people,” said Capt. Alan Findley, who serves U.S. Air Force and Space Force service members as chaplain at Thule Air Force Base in Greenland. “The chaplaincy is a rich ministry” with some significant benefits. Since basic needs are met, a chaplain can focus on serving and fulfilling the Great Commission.
Findley has served as an enlisted serviceman and as an officer in the Air Force over the past three decades in four different career fields. At his first duty station at Edwards Air Force Base in California in 1992, an unsaved Findley found his way to a new church plant started by BJU alumnus Ronald Smith Jr. (’88). He heard the Gospel for the first time and was saved later that evening.
Because of his rough background, it took three and a half years and almost dying in a car wreck before Findley surrendered to God’s will. He was later called to the ministry under the preaching of BJU alumnus Paul Whitfield (’55), which prompted Findley to study Bible at BJU. He ended active duty in 1997 to move to Greenville with his family and work on his degree.
“That first semester was a sacrificial offering,” said Findley. He and his family arrived in Greenville with no housing settled and no employment secured two weeks before school started, but the Lord provided. They moved three times that first year. Findley found a full-time job working in the IT industry and maintained a position in the Air Force Reserves on top of his busy work and studies. During this time, he and his wife added three daughters to their three sons. And God continued to lead.
A Call to Preach
In the early 2000s, a group of BJU alumni began to feel a burden for the Nicholtown community in Greenville to have a strong, Bible-centered church. They approached Findley about being the pastor. Findley wanted to plant a church in inner-city Chicago and was initially hesitant about staying in Greenville, but God directed him and his family. In January 2003, Hope Baptist Church in Nicholtown held its first service with Findley as its pastor.
Over the next 10 years, Findley pastored the church, eventually going full time in 2006. In Nicholtown, the work was rewarding yet challenging. There was much discipleship to do, and many individuals needed to take drastic measures to follow God. Even during this time, Findley never lost his love for ministering to people in the military.
While he was pastoring in Nicholtown in 2007, Findley attended a missions conference at BJU. A representative from a local military chaplain endorsing agency suggested he become an active-duty military chaplain. Findley felt God was leading him to pursue a reserve military chaplaincy, however, because it would support the church.
Findley earned a master of arts degree in biblical studies from Piedmont Baptist Graduate School in 2010 and was encouraged to start fresh with his Nicholtown ministry. He worked hard as the pastor, but as he planned for the future he couldn’t see beyond a few years.
He became increasingly burdened for the young people in the church in particular — “almost to the exclusion of the adults,” he said — and felt unsettled. He decided to renew his Reserve Chaplaincy in 2010 where senior leaders in the Air Force Chaplaincy kept encouraging him to consider and pursue active-duty chaplaincy.
A Call to Serve
Findley had what he called “almost a Joseph-like experience in blessing” while serving as a reserve chaplain. For the next three years, he continued in both ministries, and in 2013 he felt a closeness to God in a unique way that led to a watershed moment. Findley said, “People say I’m a prayer warrior, but I was not then.” Yet, laid out on the floor in prayer, he submitted to pursuing God’s will then and wherever that would lead him.
A few months later, he was encouraged to submit his name for a one-year deployment as a chaplain. At that time, it was difficult to obtain a position as an active-duty chaplain. The placements looked intriguing in locations such as Italy, Germany and England, so there was some stiff competition.
“God lined up all the details,” said Findley. He put the right people who knew Findley from previous assignments in the right places at the right time. The result was a tour to Turkey as a 365-day deployed chaplain in late 2013. Findley resigned from Hope Baptist Church in 2013, pursuing this temporary assignment and not knowing if he would have a job afterward.
Findley started the application as a chaplain while in Turkey, and the Air Force accepted his application a few months after he returned.
A Call to Arms
In 2015, Findley was stationed at Mountain Home Air Force Base in Idaho, where he saw God give him many opportunities to serve his fellow Airmen and their families on the base. The workload was heavy, but “people love the truth,” he said, and God gave grace and strength.
Findley served a tour in Afghanistan, where he said he “learned how to pray.” Each of his assignments could be multiple stories in themselves. God has been faithful to lead, direct and protect.
Findley has earned multiple military honors, but that’s not why he serves. He serves because he was called by God. “My mission is people,” he said. “The ministry is rich in the military.” Working in Greenland at Thule Air Base allows him to serve both Air Force service members and the new Space Force Guardians, “which is exciting, but people are my job. So that’s not changed.”
Findley has the opportunity to work in the Chaplain Corps Recruiting Office starting this summer, and he will have the privilege of helping others whose hearts God has been calling into the Air Force chaplaincy. “Getting on a dirty floor praying — this is the theme of my life,” he said, and he will be able to get on a new floor and pray for God’s leading, support and wisdom as he continues pursuing the Great Commission in the U.S. Air Force.