The Australian Defence Force (ADF) has appointed two more Seventh-day Adventist pastors to serve as chaplains in their ranks, totaling five chaplains across the navy, army, and air force.
Earlier in 2021, Raymond Moaga became one of the youngest chaplains for the Army Reserve in southeast Queensland. Then, Esava Koro became a chaplain for the navy in Darwin, Northern Territory.
Moaga said he has wanted to be an ADF chaplain since he was a student at Avondale College (now Avondale University) in 2007.
“It has been a dream for 14 years,” Moaga explained. “God has been preparing me for this moment. I have been a church pastor, a youth director, a teacher, and a sporting coach. All of my previous work has given me a wealth of experience, and I have grown as a person, ready for this next chapter God has given me.”
Since the beginning of 2021, Moaga has been working as a chaplain for a state high school, where he has had to change how he ministers to the students as he cannot explicitly talk about the Bible or God.
“My experience being a chaplain at a state school will help me in my ministry as an ADF chaplain as they are all people from the community, without a Christian background, and many have never heard about God,” Moaga said.
Coming from a sports background, he completed the physical assessment part of his training with flying colors; when asked what the hardest part of the process was, however, he admitted it was the waiting.
“God really tested my patience, but I am mindful that God is always preparing us for the next season. We don’t know when that season will come, but as we wait, He is teaching us and helping us grow,” he explained.
Moaga will be looking after Army Reserve members and their families at five bases between Brisbane and Bundaberg while continuing to work as a chaplain at the state high school.
Koro has been working in ministry for more than 15 years. With a daughter in the Australian navy, he decided to become an ADF chaplain in order to reach out to navy personnel and those in the community.
“I really want to further my sphere of responsibility in ministry, especially in ministering cross-denominationally. I love being a minister for the church, but I want to go beyond that,” Koro explained.
“When I look at the ADF, I see that they do a lot of varied work,” he explained. “They are not only protecting our nation, but they do a lot of humanitarian work where they meet the needs of real people, and I want to be involved in that. To be able to reach the people where they are,” he added.
Koro has finished his first stage of training, which consisted of a physical assessment and leadership training, including intervention and crisis modules. With three more stages of training to go, he is looking forward to getting on a navy ship and training at sea.
Koro currently looks after five churches across the top half of the Northern Territory, so adding this chaplaincy role to his current duties is no small feat. Still, he said he is looking forward to working with navy personnel and their families and sharing the support and comfort that can only come from God.
“We are proud to see our pastors branch out to minister to those who defend and look after our country,” Michael Worker, general secretary of the Australian Union Conference and the Adventist Church’s representative on the Associated Protestant Churches Chaplaincy Board, said. “We will continue to encourage and support our pastors to look for different ways to show God’s love to those in the community.”