Chaplains are used to inspiration.
When Chaplain (Maj.) Jeff Masengale, Religious Support Office, was tasked to conduct a couples’ getaway at Smith Lake Recreation Area recently, he spent some time offering religious guidance.
Masengale said he thought it was something he should continue.
So, Smith Lake provides the setting for Outdoor Life, a fellowship of faith for those who love the great outdoors, said Masengale, who was the brainchild behind the weekly gathering. It meets Sundays, at 10 a.m., at the pavilion. It is facilitated through a joint effort with the RSO and the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation.
“I had an overwhelming feeling that this was amazing. I thought I should do this every week,” he said.
The ministry aligns with Jesus’ ministry, which was mostly conducted outdoors, Masengale explained. One of Outdoor Life’s goals is to allow people to save time by not dressing up for church and have them segue into being able to hit the hiking trail at Smith Lake or enjoy other recreation with their Family.
“My idea of Christ is where the body of Christ is gathered,” Masengale said.
“There’s nothing like nature and that ties them (Families) into spirituality,” said Angel Brown, Smith Lake’s business manager at an Outdoor Life attendee.
Johnny Rose, a Fort Bragg Soldier, and his wife, Kelley, took their six children and a Family friend to recent services. The youth all range in ages from 13 months to 16 years old.
“I love it, especially for a large Family. It provides a little more ease and comfort, helps focus on the important stuff — just loving on God,” Kelley said.
Her son, Owen, 16, agreed.
“I like the outdoor feel. That was one of my least favorite things about church. You’d have to sit in a room for an hour.”
“It’s great. (I like) that there’s tons of thing that we can play on,” added little brother, Buck Rose, 5, as he took a break from climbing a play ladder at the park.
Outdoor Life brings one back to and reminds of creation, said fellow Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Doug Hoover.
In addition to Family time, a message and discussion was held about Jesus paying the ransom for man’s sins ( 1 Timothy 2:5) and about Him being the way, truth and life (John 14:6). Attendees also had breakfast and snack time with coffee.
PV2 Colten Fowler, who is newly assigned to the 18th Fires Brigade, said he learned of Outdoor Life while undergoing the newcomers brief at the Fort Bragg Reception Company.
“I thought it was great. I’ll definitely come next week,” said Fowler, who arrived at Fort Bragg from Fort Benning, Georgia.
“It’s basically a Bible study,” said Masengale, who wants those interested in attending to bring a paper Bible and a coffee cup to future Outdoor Life gatherings.
The hiking trail and bike riding are also available to attendees. Pets are allowed on the hiking trail, but not in the pavilion or playground area.
“Every Soldier or Family member may not feel comfortable or desire to go to a brick and mortar church, but this may draw people out. This may appeal to them more and reach a different population that have not been tapped into,” said Theresa Masengale, the chaplain’s wife. “(This is) another way to get into the word, see how you can apply it into your life in an outdoor setting.”
For more information about Outdoor Life, like them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/OutdoorChurchFortBragg/?hc_ref=SEARCH&fref=nf, call Masengale at 941-981-2040 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.