'I love soldiers and I love Jesus'

Dylan Goetz • May 15, 2018 at 12:00 PM

The role as Army National Guard chaplain is a “perfect fit” for Grand Haven’s Samantha Francart.

“I love soldiers and I love Jesus,” she said.

Francart, a Grand Haven High School graduate, signed on with the Michigan Army National Guard in December 2015. She completed basic training two years ago.

Later this week, Francart will travel to Lansing to go before the National Guard Federal Recognition Board and begin Chaplain Candidate School. She described this event as the first step to becoming a chaplain.

Chaplains provide for the spiritual well-being of soldiers, regardless of their religious backgrounds, according to the National Guard website. Duties of a chaplain include overseeing religious ministries, officiating at worship services, and providing ministry to foreign military personnel and civilians.

After the May 17 event in Lansing, Francart will begin to shadow chaplains around the state.

“It’s been a long waiting period, but I am just happy the process is getting started,” she said.

The 12-week Chaplain Basic Leadership Course will take place at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. Francart can go to train anytime in the next two years.

After completing the training period and earning a second master’s degree, Francart could become the only female chaplain in the Michigan Army National Guard.

“It’s a need,” she said. “There are females who need to talk to females. As a chaplain, I would be the one counseling them and performing funerals, marriages and baptisms.”

Francart, 28, said she found inspiration at basic training while being able to encourage and pray for other women soldiers.

“This is really what I want to do,” she said. “Having a female chaplain is super important for those female soldiers.”

Francart is currently pursuing another master’s degree in divinity with Regent University online, but cannot become an official chaplain until earning that degree. In the meantime, she works as a youth director at Ferrysburg Community Church. The Ferrysburg church has been home to Francart since childhood, she said.

“God brought me all the way around the world to bring me back (to Grand Haven) 10 years later,” Francart said, after noting a mission trip to 11 countries in 11 months.

After graduation from Grand Haven High School, Francart pursued a bachelor’s degree in English from Palm Beach Atlantic University in West Palm Beach, Florida. She then earned a master’s degree in global studies from Liberty University, but that degree wasn’t accepted to become a chaplain and supply the master’s degree requirement.

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