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Published June 4, 2024 by Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma

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Choctaw Nation Assistant Chief Jack Austin, Jr. recently graduated with a master’s degree in biblical/theological studies from Southwestern Assemblies of God University. It took Austin about two years to complete the course, but he feels the time put in is worth it for his faith journey.

“Anyone that knows me, knows my faith is very important to me, “Austin said. “I don’t make any big decision without first getting counsel from our Creator. It is my faith that helps guide my life and the direction I need to serve God and people.”

The Assistant Chief always knew that his life’s calling was in service to others, and he believes that completing his master’s degree further helps him along in his journey as he continually works to serve the Choctaw people. The Chahta Spirit of Faith, Family and Culture directly aligns with the elements that are most important in Assistant Chief’s life. Even as a young boy, Austin would tag along with his mom or dad as they delivered services to Choctaw families within their jobs. Through the many opportunities with his parents’ example of servanthood he learned the importance of serving others. His father, Jack Austin, Sr. was an elected Councilman who served into his 80’s. What better example of a life of service to others.

Austin’s birth mother passed away when he was only 12 and after his father married Norma Austin, she led their family to the church that he is still at today where he met his wife, Philisha.

“I always say I was blessed to have two great moms,” Austin said. “I was given a foundation to learn from and I can’t imagine my life without my faith.

“I remember right before I had fulfilled my service to the military and was lying in my bunk and I asked God, ‘What is this big plan? What do you want me to do?’” Austin said. “In that prayer, I knew I wanted to work with my people in the Choctaw Nation. It was something that I saw that drew me to Choctaw Nation, it was a desire in my heart.”

With his GI Bill intact, Austin was ready to continue his education out of the military. He knew he wanted to go to college but didn’t have a plan yet as to how best to help the Choctaw people. Austin remembers going to Eastern Oklahoma State College in Wilburton at night while working during the day for the Choctaw Nation Healthcare to get his associate degree with his wife, Philisha, by his side.

“We were both working toward our associate degrees, Austin said. “We joke about it now, but when we decided to start a family, my wife had to sit sideways in her chair during class when she was expecting our first child.”

After receiving their associate degrees, Austin prayed for the next step in their journey. He said a few days later he and Philisha were walking down the hall and had a conversation that changed the trajectory of their lives.

“Dr. Linda Massey, a professor at East Central University, saw us and asked if we needed any help,” Austin said. “She could probably see the desperation on our faces, and she asked, ‘Have you ever thought about counseling?’ At that point, we had not but as she explained it to us, it seemed to sit right with both of us.”

At night and on weekends the Austins worked toward their graduate degree and goal of receiving certification to become counselors while working regular day jobs. During that time two more children were born for a total of three.

When Austin graduated with his counseling certification, he went about his work of helping people while working in healthcare for several years until a crossroads happened.

“I lived my life the last 40 years listening to the Lord and let him lead me wherever I go,” Austin said. “After I prayed about it, I told my wife the next morning about my prayer and wherever the Lord leads us is where we are going. I turned it over to the Lord; that was on a Tuesday. That Friday, I received a call from Chief Batton regarding my next role.

Austin said he felt it in his spirit that the Lord led him to his Assistant Chief position. He said it has been a while now working for the Choctaw Nation and he still feels at peace where the Lord led him.

“I don’t know what God has in store for me,” Austin said. “Whatever it is I will follow. Serving others is what makes me happy, fulfilled and is what I was called to do.”

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