Advent in Iraq

by Chaplain (CPT) Jason Palmer, USA

Christmas is right around the corner. We've set up our Christmas tree in the Battalion Headquarters. We are also fully stocked with red Santa hats, reindeer horn hats, tinsel, and ornaments. We have a great number of stuffed stockings and very sweet cards and notes that you've sent for our soldiers. Those will be passed out around Christmas time.

The generosity that you have shown has been genuinely appreciated by our soldiers. The availability of even some of the most basic essentials is anything but consistent over here. Given that I'm living on a huge military facility and our guys can't buy soap, razors, and deodorant consistently, I can only imagine how sparse the selections are at outlying locations.

Many soldiers stop by my office daily and check out the shelves from which these items are distributed in anticipation of finding that one thing that they have been looking for. The interactions I get to have with these soldiers while they're "shopping" have led to numerous impromptu counseling sessions which include a solid focus on faith.

I ask you to continue to hold up our battalion leadership in your prayers. Pray that God would grant them wisdom beyond their training or experience to enable us to be successful in contributing to a stable Iraq in which a truer sense of freedom would be realized in the years to come.

I'm excited about the doors God has opened for me to share the message of hope with soldiers and civilian contractors alike since my arrival in Iraq. Each Sunday I have the privilege of leading praise and worship. I continue to be astounded at how the Spirit of God can use music to prepare hearts for the richness of His Word.

Pray that I'd be a vessel through which the clear message of the gospel would be heard in those services. The preparation for our weekly coffee house ministry continues. This is a primary marketplace ministry initiative for my assistant and me. Please pray that this can be a consistent outreach throughout the remainder of our year-long deployment as God leads.

I've been asked to start a Bible study as well. Folks are hungry for the Word. I'm grateful for the many copies of the Bible that are available.

Pray for continued safety for our soldiers.

Pray also for our families--particularly our marriages. We have not been here long, but already some are struggling to communicate effectively and to resolve friction in healthy ways. May God work in supernatural ways to heal the strain of service separation on our families.

Lastly, but most importantly, pray that the souls of men and women would be open to the gospel in which the ultimate hope for operating in a combat environment is found.

God bless you all,

Jason

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