Author, Seal of God (2012)
Former Navy Seal, 2005-2010
Wife: Aubrey; Father to a newborn baby girl
A Navy SEAL's Reckoning with God
The 700 Club
BECOMING A SEAL
Chad grew up in Huntington Beach, California. His family started going to church when he was six. “I didn’t like church,” says Chad. He knew Jesus was important, but he always seemed to find a way to get out of attending. As a young kid, Chad pretended he was a SEAL while swimming in their pool. During high school, he watched the movie Navy SEALS starring Charlie Sheen. He also watched documentaries that fueled his fascination. Chad had success with skateboarding and performing in TV commercials, but soon his passion for skateboarding burned out.
At 17 he had his first drink and soon he was started smoking marijuana. While Chad didn’t get into extreme heaving drinking, alcohol was definitely a part of his life. “I knew I was living in a way that was displeasing to God,” says Chad. “But I saw no real need to change.” After high school, Chad enrolled at a community college. He was drinking and smoking before classes. “My life was in a state of limbo. I was miserable,” he says. One day, Chad decided to become a SEAL. He found a workout and started a fitness program. Chad’s parents wanted him to take more time to think about what it took to be a SEAL since he had quit so many other things in the past. His dad, Mark, contacted a former SEAL, Scott Helvenston, to put Chad through grueling workouts. Instead of discouraging him, the workouts actually fueled Chad’s passion to become a SEAL. Scott had been a SEAL for 12 years and trained Demi Moore for her role in G.I. Jane. Sadly in 2004, days before Chad reported to basic training, Scott who had worked for a contractor in Iraq, was killed in Fallujah. The death of his mentor sent Chad into a rage. He was determined more than ever to make it through SEAL training. Chad was one of 13 out of 173 to make it out of his class and went on to serve on West Coast SEAL teams. He completed tours of duty in the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and in Iraq. There, Chad’s journey came full circle when his team was ambushed by enemy machine gunners, close to the same road where Scott was killed five years earlier.
A NEW CREATION
In 2007, Chad was drinking heavily and club hopping. Occasionally, he drank enough to have blackouts. He was fighting in bars and living at his parents. They told him he couldn’t stay there anymore if he was going to keep living the way he was living. So Chad decided to go to church with his family, knowing that he would be home in time for a party later. Greg Laurie, of Harvest Christian Fellowship, was speaking on Naaman. Chad listened as Greg told the story of how Naaman, a general with leprosy, obeyed God by dipping himself in the Jordan 7 times and was healed. When Greg asked people to raise their hands, Chad raised his hand and committed his life to the Lord.
He read the entire Bible and put God first in his life. Chad suddenly had no interest in drinking, clubbing or fighting. Chad’s girlfriend and now wife Aubrey didn’t want to change her partying lifestyle. (They broke up for one year and then Chad led her to the Lord on the beach one day.) Chad’s other team members didn’t like the changes in him. He was ridiculed for his faith. “Here I am, this new guy, and all of a sudden, I’m drawing certain lines in the sand,” says Chad. “They didn’t understand what changed in me.”
Chad signed a six year contract with the Navy and the longer he served the more he wanted to evangelize. “I loved being a SEAL,” says Chad. But it became increasingly clear that God was calling him to be an evangelist. In 2009, he proposed to Aubrey on the red carpet in DisneyLand and were married. He left the military in 2010 and has been working in full-time ministry. “ I thought being a Navy SEAL would deliver the ultimate,” says Chad. “I understand why those things didn’t satisfy me.”
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