Above: Williams and fellow soldiers conduct field operations in Kansas.
Above: Williams writes a memo while at Officer Candidate School training. On the desk is a 240G chain gun.
Above: a chaplain conducts service in a field with soldiers.

Student Spotlight: Caleb Williams

An image of strength is synonymous with America's armed forces. For Caleb Williams, who started at Austin Seminary this spring and serves in the army's 143rd Airborne Infantry (Ranger) unit, his strength comes from growing closer to God. Williams hopes to pass on that support to others in the military as a chaplain. 

Williams' calling to the military began at an early age. 

"As a kid I was fascinated by the military and always wanted to serve. It was a higher calling and one that put sacrifice above self," said Williams. "I entered the navy and served in Special Operations, which is where I actually came to know the Lord. It was when I was able to leave the U.S. and see the world that I started to question my own understanding of the world and my role in it. I now serve in the army's 143rd Airborne infantry (Ranger) unit and am looking to become a chaplain. Between getting out of the navy and being here at seminary, I worked in law enforcement on the local and state levels. I became an instructor and started to teach weapons tactics and self defense all over. I have done a wide range of things from protection of the President of the United States, to teaching the Royal Canadian Mounted Police."

Williams' experiences in the armed forces offered him a greater understanding of how critical a spiritual support system is in the military. 

"Sadly, we in the military are the best at four things in the world: national defense, alcoholism, divorce, and suicide," said Williams. "While the first is a great treasure held by the U.S., the others are a devastating impact to long deployments, low pay, and bad work/ life conditions. Just the nature of the job makes each day hard. These men and women will seldom ever complain, but there comes a point when they break. Unfortunately, I know first hand about some of the bad effects of the military, and I know how important it is for them to have spiritual leaders helping them through or preventing them from falling into some of them."

Austin Seminary's embrace of multiple theological perspectives and focus on a welcoming community appealed to Williams, who hopes to apply those principles to his ministry. From there, Williams is committed to listening to the voice of God and traveling down the path God carves out for him. 

"I came to Austin Seminary because the role of the chaplain is to comfort all those who are heavy laden, not just from one denomination or even faith," Williams said. "When I talked to the staff and researched the Seminary I could see that I would get to not only learn from a varied group of professors, but I would be able to study with people that lived, worshiped, and saw theology differently than I do. There is such a wide spectrum of believers here that I will be able to learn from them as much as my studies. This, I believe, will equip me to better relate to the broad brush that makes up our soldiers and sailors. My ultimate goal is to be still and listen to what God has for me after graduation. I pray that is to be a chaplain and get "down range" with our military and preach the gospel at the front lines of wherever they are sent."