SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — The path to chaplaincy for Matthew Maestas required him to take extraordinary steps to fulfill his calling. The road was neither smooth nor straight, and the lessons are still being unfolded each day.
But his faith is strong, his vision is clear and he has a solid three-point message that helps him help others to weather the winds of change.
“I was with Chaplain McChrystal at the luncheon following my Oath of Office ceremony at Evangel University, and he talked about the lessons in perseverance that my family and I have learned,” said Chaplain Maestas. “He talked about the great cloud of witnesses that were cheering us on. And with each change we faced, he assured me that I will be more mature in the end.”
Scott McChrystal is the military representative and endorser for military and VA chaplains for the Assemblies of God. He served 31 years on active duty, 10 as an infantry officer and the remainder as an Army chaplain. He knows about change.
Maestas continued, “Chaplain McChrystal asked me if I could sum up what I have learned from my journey thus far. I told those gathered at the luncheon, three things — trust God; love people; and have a community of believers around you.”
That is the quick summary of a man who feels deeply the commitment, courage, and honor to motivate a team to complete the mission.
“At the end of the day, I don’t want to look back and see myself as just another counselor, social worker or a shoulder to cry on,” he said. “I will be a chaplain that brings God’s love to Sailors, Marines, Coast Guardsmen, and their families. I look forward to being there for our service members by listening to their concerns and building trust. Having the opportunity to serve God and my country will be the greatest honor.”
The Assemblies of God Theological Seminary of Evangel University held a public ceremony for the taking of the Oath of Office by newly accessioned U.S. Navy Chaplain Matthew Maestas on January 29, 2019. The event was held in the Robert H. Spence Chapel before the entire student body.
Maestas earned his Master of Divinity, which is the required degree for military chaplaincy, from AGTS in 2016.
The picture of perseverance
“Chaplain Maestas is the picture of perseverance,” said Chaplain Stormy Davis, coordinator of the Veteran’s Center at Evangel University. “The journey toward chaplaincy took him and his family nearly eight years to complete; during which time, Maestas never faltered. When he was told he needed to do more, he did it. The times he was questioned about his calling, his actions lived the path toward that calling to its fullest.”
He started at a community college in the great plains of Eastern Colorado and completed his business degree in 2005 at Colorado State University-Pueblo with a self-admitted below average GPA. Newly married and starting a family, he spent the next several years in corporate America, before God called him into ministry and gave him a focused purpose in life.
“To meet the requirements of the ministry to which God called me, I started additional educational training at AGTS,” he said, adding that this time, he had a strong sense of purpose and maintained a much higher GPA.
Prior to moving to Springfield, Chaplain Maestas worked with the youth, college and career-ages in Pueblo. During his years at AGTS, he gained ministry experience in Springfield area AG churches in adult education and as an outreach pastor. He ended with two years as a pastoral care intern.
“I graduated with a Master of Divinity in 2016. As a student, I commissioned into the U.S. Navy as a Chaplain Candidate Program Officer, and held this commission from May 2012 to June 2017.”
At that point, he was advised to gain some additional chaplaincy experience, so he moved his family to Kansas where he became the associate pastor at Wellington First Assembly and a chaplain at Wesley Medical Center.
“Being a chaplain at Wesley Medical Center has given me the honor to serve within a pluralistic institution. I have learned talking about psychological and emotional health can be difficult and at times overwhelming.”
Chaplain Maestas became a great resource for patients, families, and friends struggling with medical decisions and the ethics surrounding those decisions. This often involved underlying spiritual and emotional issues. As a chaplain embedded in the medical field, he had the opportunity to serve alongside nurses, doctors and staff to support the overall care.
“This close connection and shared identity initiated trust with everyone; I was fortunate to be their Chaplain. These experiences have equipped me for a future career in the Navy Chaplaincy.”
The perseverance paid off, and now, having taken the Oath of Office as a Navy Chaplain, it is time once again for the Maestas family to move on to the next step in their calling.
“We are headed next to Chaplain School in Rhode Island,” he reported from his car, with his wife Melissa and three children, Makayla, Malaki and Mavrik. “And after that, we have been told our destination will be the U.S. Navy Base in Coranado, California.”
Chaplaincy by the numbers
The U.S. Navy struck a chord with Chaplain Maestas when he read their promise, “The Navy Chaplaincy is a unique opportunity to serve God and country while also extending your spiritual reach around the world. In addition to working with people of many faiths, Navy Chaplains have the privilege of living and working side by side with their flock. In this way, you’ll be able to forge bonds in ways you’ve never imagined, in places you’ve never dreamed you’d see.”
He’s not alone. Combining all facets of the military and veterans services, the Assemblies of God fellowship has 214 active chaplains, with another 72 candidates and endorsees in the pipeline. Of those, 113 are from AGTS, CBC and Evangel University.
Broadening the scope even more, to include institutional and occupational chaplaincy — be they corporate, correctional, healthcare or a variety of special focus members — there are currently 467 chaplains affiliated with the Assemblies of God, and 47 more in the pipeline. Of those 127 are from AGTS, CBC and Evangel.
AGTS serves the larger Pentecostal and Evangelical traditions with 21st-century leadership for the Church and its mission. AGTS is accredited by The Association of Theological Schools in the U.S. and Canada.
As an embedded seminary, AGTS with Evangel University serves more than 2,100 students from all 50 states and numerous countries, offering 65 undergraduate majors and 19 master’s and doctoral degrees.
PHOTO A: USN Chaplain Matthew Maestas and his wife, Melissa, at the swearing in ceremony. // PHOTO BY: Paul K. Logsdon
PHOTO B: Matthew & Melissa Maestas and their children Makayla, Malaki and Mavrik.
PHOTO C: Chaplain Matthew Maestas, center, has served the past couple of years on staff at First Assembly of God in Wellington, Kansas, with Dr. Marvin Miller and Pastor Caleb Foster. Miller is a 2016 graduate of AGTS, with a D.Min., and Foster is a 2012 graduate of CBC.