Originally from Ontario, Canada, James Damude graduated in 2000 from Northwood University in Michigan with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. James was actively involved as a student leader in the Chi Alpha ministry on campus, and he would serve as campus pastor at his alma mater for nine years. James then served a two year stint as an Assemblies of God World Missionary in India before returning to Michigan to pioneer a Chi Alpha ministry at Saginaw Valley State University.
Eventually, he felt God leading him into a new missions field: the U.S. Armed Forces. In 2016, James was endorsed and commissioned as a U.S. Army Chaplain and is currently with the Assemblies of God U.S. Missions Chaplaincy department. Since 2017, he has been stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. James has been married to his wife Sara, who he met through the Northwood Chi Alpha group, since 2002. They have four children: Easton, 13; Sydney, 11; Emily, 8; and Silas, 6. James shares how his time in Chi Alpha helped prepare him for his current position of ministering to soldiers in the army.
Describe the impact Chi Alpha had on you as a student.
Chi Alpha was the part of my Christian walk where I solidified my faith. I had accepted Jesus as Savior right before college, but it wasn’t until I got to college that Christ became the Lord of my life. At a fall retreat I was baptized in the Holy Spirit and I started living the Christian life and making disciples. My college years I was mentored and really got challenged to see my campus as a mission field.
How did your time as a campus pastor prepare you for your current ministry role?
It gave me the opportunity to experience life with young adults in the sense that I could walk with people through their struggles and also rejoice with them in their victorious moments. It was like I was living in the Book of Acts (Acts 2:42-47).
What was transitioning from campus ministry to military chaplaincy like for you?
It was pretty easy in the sense that I’m doing mostly in the same age group and a lot of these soldiers are going through the same struggles as college students. They are trying to find their purpose, who God is, figuring out who to marry, and career choices.
What are doors that God has opened for you serving at Fort Bragg?
The biggest door is to be able to walk with people when they go through struggles in life with their kids, faith, and marriage. U.S. Army Chaplains offer 100 percent confidentiality to soldiers, so I get a lot of people coming to me first before their chain of command.
What advice do you have for anyone out there who feels called to chaplaincy?
Talk with a current chaplain. Military Chaplaincy is not an easy ministry, but it is a very rewarding one. There is a unique identity to being chaplain: you are a pastor and a military staff officer. Doing both well leads to the spiritual health and success of your unit.