Since its founding in 1917, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and Leavell College have sent thousands of servants for Christ into various ministry fields. And each of those leaders understood the weight of their calling. Moreover, they recognized the immense responsibility of presenting Jesus in a way that draws people to Him.
But Miller “Ike” Eichelberger’s congregations have had a unique perspective. During his career as a military chaplain, Ike has served on the frontlines of some of the world’s most dangerous places, and those under his care have stood in harm’s way. Now, as a chaplain to chaplains, he is charged with ministering to other spiritual leaders—and with sending them into similar potentially violent settings.
I serve as the chaplain captain assignment officer, overseeing more than 700 people. So, all the chaplains who are captains in the army, I move them. I am their career manager. I get their wishes and desires, look at their career progression, and consider what would be best for them.
But while the army has long been a part of Ike’s life, the faith that allows him to serve as a pastor’s pastor took longer to develop. He grew up in church and knew all the rituals and phrases. But during a military stint that stretched from 1987 until 1993—and included duty in Desert Storm—he essentially left his childhood faith behind. It wasn’t until he was back home, married and working in a Denver, Colorado, post office, that God finally got his attention.
I knew the language, but the relationship was not there. It was more like when you want someone there for protection or provision. I wanted to bend the Lord’s will to my will. That was my attitude. But a series of significant emotional events led me to understand where I was with God and where I needed to be with Him. So, I surrendered and gave my life to the Lord. Everything, of course, changed; and we’ve been moving on ever since, following Him.
Through the consistent love of a co-worker, Ike gave his life to Christ in 1997. Then, after he was transferred to a post office in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, he began attending William Carey University. And that’s where he first heard about New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.
Initially, the Eichelbergers weren’t interested in making a move to the New Orleans campus. Instead, Ike assumed he would keep working at the post office while attending the extension center in Clinton, Mississippi. A trip to the campus changed the family’s mind, though. And it’s a choice they have never regretted.
New Orleans was a wonderful growing place for my wife and me. We forged some lifelong relationships there. We got to walk with people, break bread with them, and see their transparency. You could see their struggles in balancing ministry and life. I always tell chaplains: Don’t sacrifice your family on the altar of ministry. Those are the kinds of lessons I learned at NOBTS.
Having spent so many years going through the motions, Ike understands the spiritual challenges many chaplains face. He believes his call includes walking with these leaders through their dry seasons and encouraging them to lean into God. He even earned another master’s degree that equipped him to become a marriage and family therapist to minister to them more effectively.
Ike’s experiences give him an appreciation for the time he spent in New Orleans. And he holds a unique sense of gratitude for financial supporters who made his education possible. As a result, he has become a regular donor himself, and he enthusiastically encourages others to join him.
I am the product of someone giving. And while not everyone will go overseas and be missionaries, we all can be a part of a ministry team when we donate. I believe God calls us to provide support when we can and to give generously. That’s what we’re supposed to do.
The people who donated to NOBTS and Leavell College helped me get where I am today. They’re a part of my story. God gets all the glory, but people invested in folks like me. As a result, I have served in combat zones and been able to witness to people who may have never heard the gospel. I saw them give their lives to the Lord. And the people who donated to New Orleans when I was going through school are part of that.
I am incredibly grateful for spiritual leaders like Ike Eichelberger. I appreciate his service to his country, but I’m even more thankful for his faithfulness to the gospel of Jesus Christ. He models our mission to prepare servants who will walk with Christ, proclaim His truth, and fulfill His mission. And he represents the kind of students you can support through your generous financial investment.
Please consider joining Ike today as a donor to New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and Leavell College. Whether you give a little or a lot, your ongoing gifts will make a tremendous difference in the lives of our students today and the people they will reach in the years to come. Thank you in advance for your support. We appreciate it more than we could ever express.
God bless you and keep you,
P.S.— One excellent way to invest in the ministry of NOBTS and Leavell College is through a regular gift to the Providence Fund. Every dollar given to the Providence Fund is a dollar our students won’t have to pay. So, your generosity will make a difference in their lives right now—and in the future.
For more information about making a financial gift to NOBTS and Leavell College, visit us online at nobts.edu/donate