by CH (CPT) Dell Harlow-Curtis, USA
While in garrison or stateside, it is easy for chaplains to plan Bible studies, chapel services, weddings, etc. The location and the soldiers are all in abundance.
While deployed to downtown Baghdad, however, with a very active Infantry Unit you can’t get them all together at one time. Patrols go out on the hour. Thirty plus soldiers go “outside the wire” on one shift while the other soldiers are sleeping.
Because of the patrol rotations, a chaplain may find himself preaching at multiple services to accommodate his soldiers. This is the life of a field chaplain.
Juggling Time, Resources, & Opportunities
Because of this awkward schedule, a chaplain must utilize his resources, the soldier’s time, and every opportunity. This is where small Bible studies excel.
As a chaplain I have a burning desire to teach my soldiers the Word of God. I want to equip them with Bibles, study books, and counseling so that they can go back to their soldiers and hold small group services while out on patrol. Bible study groups are the only way some of these soldiers will have a chance to learn about the Lord while deployed.
Don’t get me wrong, soldiers do not huddle in large groups for lengthy discussions. These soldiers must perform a fast discussion on a verse or topic, then end in prayer. Sometimes while on patrol, as the soldiers keep a vigilant watch, they ask questions about the Lord.
I have learned something very valuable: This ministry is not about me as the chaplain. Yes, I go on as many patrols as is safe for my men, and I share the Word, but I cannot meet the spiritual needs of all the patrols that proceed out our gates.
I must equip my soldiers with the weapons to fight the spiritual enemy, then I must trust that they will learn through small group Bible studies as the Spirit leads.
Pointing Soldiers to Christ
I want my soldiers to learn to turn to Christ not to me. This is His ministry not mine. My goal is to utilize every avenue and resource so that my men and women come to know a saving knowledge of the one true God and His Son Jesus Christ.
I want to do His will so that I will someday hear Him say to me, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”