Odell, whose father was a pastor, says he has been in ministry ever since he was old enough to empty a trash can. He received Christ as his Savior as a preschooler and dedicated his life to ministry while in upper elementary school. Odell was inducted into the USAR in June 1983 and assigned to the 45th Station Hospital in Vancouver, Wash. As a home missionary with Baptist Mid-Missions, he was assigned to Fort Benjamin Harrison, Lawrence, Ind., in 1987. There he served in six different units between Indianapolis, Chicago, and Camp Atterbury in Columbus, Ind.
He deployed to Saudi Arabia in 1991, to Hungary in 1996, and to Kuwait in 2005. In 2007 he was mobilized to serve as the rear detachment chaplain for the 2nd and 1st Brigade Combat Teams of the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell in Kentucky, remaining at Fort Campbell until 2011, when he returned to Fort Benjamin Harrison as rear detachment chaplain.
In civilian ministry, Odell, who holds a PhD in Biblical studies from Pensacola Christian College, teaches classes in his church and seminars in the military, and has written articles for Regular Baptist Press Sunday School take-home papers. He has said, “I believe that God has given each one a spiritual gift of service to assist others in His Body. God gifted me with the ability to communicate truth and the desire to study and share that truth. This is what makes life worth living, as far as I am concerned.”
Odell also served as professor of Bible and history and onetime academic dean at Crossroads Bible College in Indianapolis from 1988 to 2007. He has returned to teach there part-time in retirement.