Putting Others First
InSoon J. Gho '93 is accustomed
to being in the minority. When she came to the United States from her native
South Korea in 1990, she entered a world of racial minority. When she enrolled
in seminary, she entered a world of cultural minority. When she joined
the U.S. Army, she stepped into a world of gender minority. Yet, no matter
how high the odds have been stacked against her, Gho has prevailed.
"God has strengthened me
to accomplish so many great things and overcome so many obstacles through
His grace," she says. "It was only through Him that I have come to this
point in my life."
This point is in Fort Hood,
Texas, where Gho serves as chaplain of the Army's Fourth Infantry Division.
Given the tenuous climate military personnel live in, she encounters her
fair share of uncertainty. At any moment, her infantry can be called into
combat duty. (The Fourth Infantry Division received confirmation of its
deployment to Kuwait in the last week of March as part of Operation Iraqi
"The soldiers struggle with
unknowns everyday," Gho says. "They have to be prepared for anything and
be ready to jump at a moment's notice. I offer counseling to help them
deal with their situations because it may be a matter of life or death
"It is mentally, physically,
and spiritually challenging for them and for me. I can't solve their problems,
so I have to help them develop and maintain a good perspective about their
lives. God uses me to show them how much He cares for them."
Gho has a long list of landmarks
in her past to attest to God's goodness in conquering challenges and obstacles.
When she immigrated to the United States, she immediately started classes
at Trinity at the recommendation of her brother, who once pastored a church
in Chicago. The English language posed the highest barrier for her to overcome.
"I knew some English, but
living in the culture was not a smooth transition. My roommates really
helped me to improve my speech, and some professors spent time with me
outside of class. That made my adjustment easier to cope with, and I am
truly grateful for their help."
Gho graduated with a sociology
degree in 1993. She continued her studies at Calvin Theological Seminary,
where she became the first Korean female to attain her master's of divinity
and be ordained as a minister. She enlisted in the Army in January 1999
and has been stationed in Texas since July 2002. She is also the first
Christian Reformed female chaplain in all of the U.S. Armed Forces.
"The Army is a very male-dominated
society," she says, noting that only 50 out of some 1200 army chaplains
are female. "Respect is not given; you have to earn it, but I think I've
earned the respect of the soldiers here."
Army chaplains are required
to complete a training regimen nearly as rigorous as that of the soldiers.
They go wherever the soldiers go, except fighting positions because chaplains
are not trained for combat. In order to keep up, her level of physical
fitness must be equal to the challenge.
"Basic training for Army
chaplains lasts 12 weeks, and it is very intense," Gho says. "I didn't
think I was going to make it. I hit the bottom and told myself, 'I don't
"But I believed that God
called me to a unique ministry. I read Psalm 91 to refocus on His purpose
for me, and by relying on Him, I was able to endure. The soldiers here
need to hear a compassionate word of encouragement and love, and I know
that I can give it to them."
Gho recalls many fond memories
about her time at Trinity. Besides her roommates, she credits Dr. Bob Rice
and his wife, Gail, for being strong pillars of support while she was a
student. Dr. Brad Breems turned out to be one of her most trusted resources,
academically and personally.
"I don't know how I would
have made it without their help," says Gho, who became a U.S. citizen in
2002. "I looked to them for wisdom and guidance about school and life in
America, and their advice was really good for me."
to Alumni Profiles