Vol 23 No 3 April/May 2008
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Military chaplains help our troops find peace on the front lines.
I often wonder with genuine curiosity how people of no faith keep it together in times of great loss or crisis. Believing that there is a divine plan, that God is somehow guiding me, working through me, has brought me tremendous comfort in my darkest hours. And if it wasn't for that faith, I wouldn't know how to process even the most common personal challenges: financial struggles, the death of friends and family members, health scares, career crises, parenting challenges, relationship set-backs, and so on. When things don't go exactly as planned or when things seem horribly uncertain, I always seek out and feel God's strength and reassuring presence.
For our soldiers serving in the Canadian Forces, the unit chaplain is their link to a higher power, their reassuring presence. It's a much greater uncertainty that these men and women face on a daily basis. "Will I come home today," is never a question I ask myself when leaving for work in the morning—how about you? But for active-duty soldiers, life is precarious and it's intense. They face separation from their families, potential injury or even death, the terror of combat, life in a foreign land, loss of friends, and if they are lucky, the transition back to civilian life. And it's the chaplain that brings perspective to all of this chaos.
Lutheran minister Brig.-Gen. Stanley Johnstone is the head of this 300-strong force of chaplains serving the Canadian Forces. His job as chaplain general is to lead those who carry Bibles instead of C7 rifles. A former unit chaplain himself, Johnstone describes in our cover story (page 10) the power of the chaplains' words and presence, and the trust and respect they earn from their fellow soldiers through basic training and beyond.
As someone with little power but to pray for our troops and their families from my home, a comfortable distance from Afghanistan, I am grateful that those who are seeking God's strength in defence of freedom have a comrade-in-arms through the ministry of the military chaplain.
LET US PRAY…
Pray that God will protect our soldiers with heavenly grace.
Dear Lord, please hold our troops in your loving hands. Protect them, as they protect us. When they are tired, give them strength and rest. If they are wounded, give them comfort. When they are lonely, may they feel you near them. Grant them strength, courage, and wisdom for their tasks. And, Lord, uplift and strengthen the families and loved ones who wait for their return. We pray in the name of Jesus, our Saviour. Amen.
Lucia Carruthers, Editor