Pro Deo Et Patria- An Army Chaplain

I am a chaplain in the US Army, serving in Iraq. I'm keeping a blog to share my thoughts and experiences while deployed. They are my thoughts and they don't necessarily reflect the opinions of the US Army! :)

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

My Faith in Iraq

In my last post, I spoke a little about what I’ve learned from deployment. An even greater effect, however, has been on my faith.

I want to preface my words, though, by referring to an article I read a while back about chaplains in Iraq. It was Newsweek, I think, and to be fair, I’m sharing my memory of the article, and not quoting it. Anyway, the article seemed to focus more on the loss of faith by a chaplain or two, than on what I believe happens to most chaplains.

My experience is that my faith has grown stronger than it was when I arrived. That isn’t to say my faith wasn’t strong to begin with, but it has been molded and shaped, and God has made Himself manifest in the ministry here. I have a greater sense of peace with God, a deeper trust in His ways, and a heightened urgency to love the people around me.

I can’t point to one event, or even a series of events that has changed me, but it’s more of a gradual awareness of an increased presence of His activity in my life.

I feel it especially in worship on Sundays. I have always enjoyed worship. However, the atmosphere of a combat zone has made Sunday stand out in a way that it has not in the past. It feels like the pinnacle of my week. Seeing the faces of people who come to the chapel seems to energize me, and as we worship, I have a deep sense of the Spirit’s moving.

Seeing the people of my church has always been one of the greatest highlights of worship, whether back home or here. It’s kind of like a weekly homecoming. But in a combat zone- for me at least- it takes on an added sense of urgency. As our chapel attendance has grown over the past six months, the faces have not always stayed the same. In the military, people are often on the move. For example: for a long time, the front row of my chapel service always had two Air Force NCOs, who greeted me each week with a joyful “Hey, Preacher!” They have since redeployed. Also, there was a civilian contractor who was a faithful attendee and has now moved back to the States to pursue full time missionary work. And the list goes on… people arriving into theater, people redeploying home, people leaving for R&R.

So… the sense of a homecoming that I have every Sunday at church back in the States is no different, but here there is the uncertainty as to who will still be here next week. This added sense of urgency deepens my joy at being in worship. I see it in the people who come to chapel as well, as many of them are eager to bring others along.

In the midst of the violence and all of the terrible things happening here, I need people to know that there are those of us who are growing deeper in our faith, and seeing God at work!


Anonymous Salomé said...

It's awesome to see how God's blessing rests upon those who have faith in Him.
I pray that God will continue to bless you and your ministry!

5:26 PM  
Anonymous Mom said...

Hi Chris!

I just wanted to say how proud I am of you (AGAIN!!). Love you and miss you very much!!! Can't wait to see you home again!!


6:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for that posting!

God Bless,

Kate Person

9:41 AM  

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