Celebrating Baptisms: Winning Soldiers to Christ at Fort Sill

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So Many Baptisms

During a Sunday service at an Army post in Oklahoma, so many soldiers wanted to get baptized that they needed to bring in more equipment—and more people. 

“At Fort Sill, they had a large number of soldiers who wanted to get baptized,” said Barry Bond, the Cru Military® local director. “So much so that they had to buy two more portable baptistry units to baptize everyone who requested baptism.”

Then, the Brigade Chaplain asked Barry to come to the chapel to help with baptisms.

“I said, ‘Absolutely!’ So that week the senior post chaplain was at one baptistry and I was at the other baptizing soldiers,” Barry said. “It was wonderful, glorious, and very humbling.”

Barry assumed that it was a one-time event. But Fort Sill has seen as many as 70 soldiers signing up each month to be baptized. To his surprise, the chaplain team needed Barry again to assist two weeks later.

Soldier in a Wheelchair

One soldier Barry met really made an impact on him. “One Sunday I met a young lady at the Cru Military Spiritually Fit—Ready to Serve (SFRS) Bible study,” Barry shared. “She was just sitting there in a wheelchair. I was rushing around trying to get ready for the class when God told me to stop and go talk to her. I knelt down next to her and said, ‘Hi! What is your name?’”

The young soldier shared her name but nothing more. “She just looked like a shell of a person,” Barry said. “I told her how glad I was that she was there that day. Then, I asked her if she was a person of faith. She said she wasn’t—that she was just exploring. In fact, she said she didn’t really know why she was there.”

Barry had to start the class, but he shared with the soldier again how glad he was that she had chosen to attend the SFRS class that day. 

“The next week at class, I saw her again,” Barry said. “She was sitting right up front.”

Barry did not have any more interactions with her that day, but the very next week, he saw her again—and a surprise was coming.

“They asked me to do baptisms again,” Barry said. “I’m baptizing one, then two, then three. It is just wonderful! I was so overcome with emotion at the joy of it all. Then all of the sudden, the same soldier I met in the wheelchair walks up and gets into the water.”

Barry was stunned. He called her by name and asked, “Have you given your heart to Christ?”

“Yes, yes, yes,” the soldier replied. “I didn’t know Jesus when you met me three weeks ago. But now I know Him.”

Barry asked her a few more questions to confirm she understood what faith in Christ and baptism meant—and the soldier professed full faith in Jesus. Barry was honored to baptize her.

“I get emotional just talking about it,” Barry said. “In just three weeks, we saw a young lady go from brokenness and doubt to whole and growing in faith. What a privilege to see a young woman go from separation from God to a member of His Kingdom.”

An Open Door

The chaplain team at Fort Sill was so grateful for the assistance they received from Barry and the Cru Military team during the services and baptisms that they offered an open door.

“The Brigade Chaplain told me that he wants us to go ahead and do our own baptisms in the SFRS classes,” Barry said. “So not only do we get to minister the Word of God to these trainees, but we also have the freedom to hold baptismal services monthly. The Brigade Chaplain said that we only need to tell him when we want to hold the services and he will help with signups sheets, baptism certificates, baptistries, and water. He wants us to walk with the trainees through the whole process. For a civilian ministry to be given the latitude and trust to do this on their own—that is the favor of God!”

Barry and his team are seeing God draw more and more soldiers to Himself. “Last year we had the privilege of sharing Jesus with over 14,400 soldiers,” Barry said. “That was glorious for our second year of ministry at Fort Sill.”

“We are now in our third year, and we had more than 26,000 soldiers who’ve heard the Gospel.”

Why the increase? “It’s God,” Barry said without hesitation. “He draws them. We are not capable of creating this type of explosion in numbers. We are just the hands and feet of God to these soldiers. Each week we just try to love them with God’s love. We pour into them and remind them that they are going to make it.”

The weekly classes started with around 400 trainees in attendance early in 2023 and increased to as many as 750 during the summer surge. “These numbers are significant because Fort Sill has a smaller population than other Gateways,” Barry said. 

Barry loves his mission to Serve Those Who Serve.

“I served 25 years in the Army, and was able to do some amazing things,” Barry said. “But I have never been this fulfilled in my entire life.”