Katie* and Andrew*, Army freshmen, had deep concern for the spiritual condition of their fellow cadets. Then a Navigator couple introduced them to Life-to-Life® discipleship.
Larry and Julie Matthews have served on Navigators staff since 1985 and are currently ROTC ministry developers for two states. They minister personally to ROTC cadets on four campuses, as well as to Air Force personnel.
“Recently we’ve noticed that our day-to-day discipling of these officers-in-training resembles more of an outreach to athletes than to typical college students,” Julie says. “They have heavy responsibilities with high expectations. They have demanding physical training precluding participation in campus ministry activities. They also care deeply about their teammates. Understanding those similarities helps us in igniting a movement among these students.”
When Larry and Julie met Katie and Andrew last spring, God was already inspiring a passion for future cadet ministry.
“Katie and Andrew didn’t observe much spiritual activity among those in their battalion, and they were determined to make an impact,” Larry says. “They heard about the Life-to-Life mentoring we offer, and they wanted in! Even though we had a full ministry schedule with other cadets, we carved out time when they could all pile into a car and drive to our home for small group meetings. We offered to teach them a few ‘abiding’ tools such as quiet time and Scripture memory.”
The study began in the Matthews’ home with six freshmen around the start of 2019. By fall, Julie and Larry saw momentum beginning to grow and were encouraged to see how God was working in their midst. The cadets took initiative and started a weekly “family” dinner and prayer time for the battalion. The Matthews’ staff team resourced the leaders by providing materials and intentional mentoring.
“The upperclassmen recognized that Katie and Andrew were igniting a movement,” Larry says. “There was new spiritual awareness. Younger students led, and in a display of unity, seniors stood behind them. The small group started meeting on campus and became a battalion study, growing quickly.”
Cadet co-leader Katie says Life-to-Life discipleship and spiritual comradery with her fellow cadets transformed everything.
“When I entered ROTC, I was obsessed with my own success,” Katie says. “But then I got the chance to be discipled one-on-one for the first time and enjoy a Bible study with other believing cadets. Christ has shown me through His Word that He deserves first place in everything. Now I see that the military is a mission field and my utmost ambition is to please Him! Our cadet-run Bible study hopes to equip future officers for gospel-focused service upon their commissioning.”
Co-leader Andrew marvels at what God has already done and eagerly anticipates God’s next move.
“God is changing the culture of the battalion,” Andrew says. “He has been challenging sin and giving us an eternal mindset. Over the summer, we were able to continue to meet over video chat for prayer and personal testimonies. I am looking forward to what He will do through this next year, especially in reaching out to the nonbelievers in the battalion.”
Jen*, one of the senior cadets, came alongside and supported the study, citing the deep impact Life-to-Life discipleship has had in her own life.
“It’s been so encouraging to just get to see another believer’s lifestyle and consistent endurance in faith,” Jen says. “This example of love and hospitality and witness for Christ has had the most impact. It makes faith feel a lot less lonely and has challenged me to change areas of my life to obey what Christ teaches.”
Julie and Larry are excited to see God continue to use them and their students to impact the ROTC program.
“Giving attention to these men and women early on showed that we value them and have a vision for their growth as military disciplemaking leaders and Kingdom leaders,” Larry says. “Their vision is growing bigger, too. Like athletes, they are all-in to win—in this case to win others to the vision of being and making disciples of Jesus!”
Pray for Navigator ROTC programs around the country, the cadets, and those ministering to them—that God would continue to transform generations through Life-to-Life discipleship.