by Lt. Anil Kumar
Growing up as an officers’ kid was not easy, especially in India where standards and expectations are so high. Fortunately, I had godly parents, family and leaders who helped me to grow in Christ. As a young man I tried to live out my calling in my way. I wanted to do research and development in the healthcare industry. I wanted to do ministry without becoming an officer.
In the summer of 2012 I worked at Camp Echo Grove in the Eastern Michigan Division as a camp counselor. I had a great time being with the kids, and they really enjoyed my accent. I was the counselor for one young boy over three different camps. On the last day of music camp, he approached me with tears and asked me to pray with him. Afterward, he gave me a big hug and said, “Mr. O’Neal, I accepted Jesus as my Savior. Thank you so much for being a good friend and sharing cool stories about Jesus every night.” That moment was affirmation from God that I should be an officer.
Affirmation of my calling to be an officer continued during my internship and then during my two years at the College for Officer Training. Today, I am enjoying being an officer by being a good friend to children at the Freedom Center and Chicago Harbor Light. Monday through Thursday from 4:00-5:00 p.m., I sit in the lobby waiting for the children. The moment they come into the facility, I hear them say, “Mr. O’Neal, do you want to know about my day? Mr. O’Neal, you funny! Mr. O’Neal, thanks for being a friend.” They don’t hesitate to call me if they don’t see me during the programs. I get to know them and their stories, and I get to pray with them. Affirmation after affirmation, I cannot ask for anything better than this.
I don’t care what they call me. They see a good friend in me, and the good friend in me is Christ. “…it is no longer I that live, but Christ liveth in me…” (Galatians 2:20, ASV). The beauty of being an officer is to be an instrument for God’s work and to see His work through me for the extension of His Kingdom.