Leading with the Left
by Darla Knoth, with Jacob and Emileigh Rogers
“How can you send your wife into harm’s way?” is just one of the questions Air Force Chaplain candidate Jacob Rogers heard as his wife Emileigh joined the Air Force.
Jacob and Emileigh met while in college, though they weren’t at the same school. Jacob came to Central Bible College from Southern Illinois, where he was raised. Emileigh (Morton) came to Evangel University from Africa, where her family was serving in community betterment; both schools are in Springfield, Missouri.
Both Jacob and Emileigh came from Christian homes. “My parents taught me to love and serve the Lord,” Jacob recalls. “Our family was at church anytime the doors were open.” In high school, Jacob had wanted a career in engineering, until he felt God call him to ministry. When he began to seek God for specific ministry, he was led to military chaplaincy.
Even before college, Emileigh became curious about the military at 12 years old when her Marine cousin came home after serving in the Middle East. The idea stayed with her, and through her growing-up years, she prayed about it, but remembers, “I didn’t really hear clearly from God about whether it was an official call from Him.” Right before college in 2010, Emileigh fasted and prayed, and even gave God an ultimatum of sorts at the start of her freshman year, about whether the military was for her.
When a mutual friend introduced Emileigh to Jacob, who was newly enlisted in the Air Force Reserve as a civil engineering operations manager, she became immediately interested when she found out he was joining the military. They dated all through college. As she watched his military process, she became more supportive as he expressed a call to serve as a military chaplain. The more she saw of Jacob’s experiences, then more she felt led to join the military as well.
Jacob and Emileigh got engaged on Lover’s Bridge while visiting her parents in Cairo, Egypt. They both graduated the first weekend in May and got married the weekend after graduation in 2014. Jacob started at Assemblies of God Theological Seminary (AGTS), while Emileigh worked at several jobs, and volunteered as an associate pastor at Life 360 Intercultural Church in Springfield, where Jacob was also associate pastor. The fall after they were married, Jacob started the paperwork necessary to commission as a chaplain.
Emileigh felt a growing desire to serve in the military herself and continued praying about it. After they were married, when they thought the timing was right, she submitted her application to Air Force Officer Training School.
However, Emileigh was turned down several times, due to low recruitment. She remembers, “I asked God if I should persevere or take the hint. In a specific worship service, I clearly heard God speak to me. He said, ‘When you get into the military — and you will — it will not be because they scraped the bottom of the barrel and found you. It will be because you are the right person at the right time.’ True to God’s word, I was accepted at the next officer selection board!”
During Emileigh’s recruitment process and as she entered officer training, Jacob received several well-meaning, but critical comments. The couple now blogs about being successful in military life at Lead with the Left, where he shared the blog post “Seven Reasons Why I ‘Let’ My Wife Join the Military,” in defense of the negative comments.
Jacob says, “Despite all the questions and guilt-tripping, I stand by my original decision that this is what’s best for our family. Obviously, I love my wife a lot. I’m no different from any other military spouse in disliking the fact that my wife may at some points be in harm’s way while serving in the military. I can be a skilled warrior and still not be able to protect my wife from all the hardships and evil in this world. I’m not under the delusion that keeping my wife out of the military will allow me to keep her safe. God loves my wife far more than I ever will. I trust Him to do what’s right for me and my wife and to protect her while I’m not near.”
Emileigh graduated from officer training and was commissioned in May 2018. She now serves as a public affairs officer, helping to communicate the commander’s vision, and act as liaison between her military base and the community around it.
Jacob is currently in the Reserves as a chaplain candidate; he was recently endorsed by the Assemblies of God to be a chaplain. The only step left is waiting on military paperwork to allow him to move forward as a full-fledged Reserves chaplain.
Of their life now, Emileigh says, “We haven’t been in the military too long, but I am really loving the opportunities and benefits the Air Force has afforded us. We appreciate the standard of living, and the perks of living on a base; the Air Force takes care of us! I’m excited about the education and learning I get to do every day. I’ve never felt more comfortable, like I ‘fit’ so naturally in any culture as I do the military culture. We’ve also met some top-notch people.” Jacob agrees that he enjoys the chance to live and work in other countries. He adds, “I get to be available to minister to airmen in ways no one else can — such as on deployment, in their work places, or just within the military culture. I can also serve God and my country at the same time.”
When asked about their future, the Rogers’ have similar goals. Emileigh says, “We are playing things a bit by ear as we learn this new life and figure out how to do this as a couple.” Jacob’s goals are to raise a family with Emileigh while also taking care of airmen and their families on active duty as a chaplain.
Jacob concludes, “ If Emileigh is wildly successful, it will only reflect well on me because I’m the guy that successful woman chose to marry. I see this as a win-win. The safest place to be is in the center of God’s will, and I will not allow my personal fears to prevent my wife from being there.”