With the world at peace and the dissolution of the Soviet Union a fact of history, the American military is “downsizing.” And one missions researcher believes churches, missions, and parachurch organizations can turn this “peace dividend” into new ministry workers.

“We see this as a real opportunity,” says Michael Adeney, a writer and researcher for Intercristo, the Seattle-based organization that matches people and positions. “The downsizing is unleashing people to be mobilized for the kingdom of God.”

According to Adeney, the U.S. Army plans to cut 400,000 people by mid-1993, and more cuts may come if Congress passes more military funding cuts. The air force, the navy, and the marines will be letting go of thousands more. Adeney says retiring military personnel have a number of qualifications that make them attractive to churches and parachurch groups. “In the military, people are used to being very mission-oriented,” he says. “And they are more likely to take orders than some of the less-conservative portions of our culture.”

What’s more, military personnel have an important prerequisite for many missions jobs: financial support, in the form of hefty retirement packages. Under the army’s Voluntary Separation Incentive program, for example, a captain with 10 years experience can receive a 20-year annuity that pays 25 percent of his annual income. If his position is cut, the percentage is smaller.

Adeney is working with the Denver-based Officers Christian Fellowship to put Intercristo’s job listing and information in the hands of military chaplains, who can use it to acquaint retiring military personnel with the opportunities in Christian work.

Missions efforts grew dramatically after World War II, Adeney points out, as service people returned from a foreign war, inspired to take God’s word to the world. He believes the current downsizing may represent another strategic opportunity. “By 1995, one-third of the U.S. military will be gone,” says Adeney. “There’s real potential there, and we should be thinking and strategizing about how these people could be mobilized for a new mission.”

By Steve Rabey.

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