Matt Joy had a desire to serve his country in uniform that went back to his college years. When 9/11 happened, he remembers vividly wrestling with the idea while he was doing his undergrad in Theology. Ultimately, he chose to stay on the course because of a strong sense it was what he was meant to do. Little did he know that God had a plan in mind that would allow him to say yes to both directions.
A Remembrance Day guest post by Rev. Matt Joy, associate pastor at Life Church, in Edmonton. Matt is one of my cohort pastors and a champion of building bridges into communities.
Fast forward ten years and I learned of the role of the Padre. My friends Matt Squires and Jeff Payne were the first I knew personally to enroll in the CAF as Chaplains. A Major came to my Masters course to do a recruitment pitch for Padres to serve within the Primary Reserve. Something clicked in that moment when I realized I could Pastor a local church AND serve as a member of the CAF simultaneously.
I met with that Major (now a Lieutenant Colonel) that very week to express my interest and start the process. He was receptive to the idea of my applying. But he let me know that I needed to first complete my Masters degree. I had only just begun, meaning this dream would have to be deferred. It took me nearly four years to finish as I was serving as a Lead Pastor in a suburb of St. John’s.
As soon as I hit my last semester I arranged to meet that same Major to start my enrollment process. One by one, the boxes were checked: the application, the medical, the force test, the aptitude test, the interviews, and more.
With this process happening while we were planning a move to Edmonton, the Army assigned me a Unit to serve with there.
We moved our family across the country and I started working at Life Church – Evangel Assembly as an Associate Pastor in 2018. That fall, I received word that my application was complete and that I would become a Padre (Captain) in the CAF. I can’t describe to you the power of a dream coming true after all of those years.
Since Sept 18, I have had the incredible privilege of serving the men and women of 41 Combat Engineer Regiment. They are some of our nation’s finest and it is a high honour to be their Padre. Now, into year 3 with the unit, I feel like I have a career’s worth of memories and an even greater appreciation for those who serve.
I have had the awesome opportunity of going through the Basic Military Officer Qualification in QC. I served with the Engineers in weekly training and monthly Exercises. As well I served on a Domestic Operation this past Spring and Summer, spending hours listening to, advising, and supporting soldiers in their own time of need, and more. I can’t say enough about the Combat Engineers of 41 Brigade and I thank God for His leading and timing.
All of this to say:
My respect for our men and women of the CAF has only grown exponentially since I have had an inside window.
If you know someone who has served past or present, take time to honour them. If you are a person of faith, pray for them. Cpl Choi’s tragic death this fall during training is a reminder of the level of commitment that is made in choosing to serve our country.
Also, service to country is a family ordeal. Remember, support, and honour the families of the men and women who serve as well. It truly is a full family commitment and impact. Even in this short time and with no deployment outside of the country, my wife and kids can attest to this.
If you have a dream and it feels like you have allowed too much time to pass for it to become a reality, perhaps that isn’t the case. Maybe a dream that has been deferred will find its way to fruition in your story. Even if the process looks different than you originally thought.
May we collectively ensure Remembrance Day is always a non-negotiable. That we, individually and as families, show honour to those who have paid the ultimate price in service. Take time to thank God for your freedoms, this nation, and the men and women who made it possible.
Please leave a comment for Matt Joy at the bottom of this post. Why not share the story of your dream?
Hope grows here. You’ll find stories that inspire, build faith, and offer lasting purpose.
We’d love to have you Subscribe to REVwords. Helpful content will arrive in your inbox early Mondays to get your week off to a thoughtful start.