This week I am reminded of the Scripture that says, “strive together with me in prayers to God for me.” (Rom. 15:30) This verse sticks out because this week has grown increasingly difficult. I have not slept well for some reason. And when I get tired I do not eat well. The two week mark is usually the hardest, and if I can push through I know I’ll be ok. As far as what is going on in our work, it is two fold. There is the everyday staff work I continue to complete. That staff work is on a project that is very unique. Chaplains very rarely bring anyone into the AOR (Area of Responsibility) for MWR (Moral, Welfare and Recreation) purposes. I am seeking approval to bring a team of six people from Ransomed Heart Ministries (www.ransomedheart.com) to Iraq. These are civilians, one of which is a recently retired CMSgt. If they make it here I will lead them through the AOR to four locations and then back home. This will all occur just as I am also trying to get home. So far everyone up the chain I have talked with have said this will be near impossible to achieve. But I have listened to their objections and feel like I have an answer for each one. So now I ask for your prayers that our leadership would see this as something worthwhile enough to place six civilians at risk in a combat zone for a short amount of time in order to provide a message of hope and purpose in the language of a warrior. My perspective is that if we can bring cheerleaders and comedians over we can bring these guys to provide something spiritually nourishing for the troops.
On the flip side, why we are here is so obvious. This week I started my work in the CASF (Contingent Aeromedical Staging Facility). The CASF is responsible for receiving patients from in theater hospitals and getting them to appropriate hospitals in the rear, i.e.. Germany, Kuwait, or in the states. Last night the CASF was full of patients waiting to get on aircraft. While I am not allowed to give details, my overall feeling was difficult to accept. Visiting these men who have been in harms way and are now being treated for wounds incurred in combat is something that touches me deep inside. Some walked in under their own strength and some never knew I was there visiting due to the medication they were being given to bring them comfort. It was great to watch the nurses care for these brave warriors, and I even got to help out lifting patients and helping the staff with carrying the wounded in. I am thankful that I am now able to put a face and a name with the numbers we see at home on television of those wounded in combat. To know them is so much of a privilege. Most were the same age as those who are attending a university or some other school of “higher education.” I am not sure which group is getting the higher education, these who have been in combat or those who are studying their books and taking the tests. These guys sure are learning a lot from what they have been through, and the best part is that they are thankful for being part of what they have been part of. I am supposed to visit the CASF twice a day with my partner chaplain. I ask for your prayers this week for this ministry. I am unable to hold back the emotion I feel for these guys. They seem to take their wounds in stride and even joked about them. Some I could tell were bothered because of their obvious disfigurement, but were unable to speak of it. These are our nation’s bravest, and I want to honor them by mentioning them to you.
This week also brought the first Contemporary worship service our team leads. We had about 120 people there and besides a few glitches, which we will work out this week, it was awesome. We had a drama team, an awesome praise band, video, testimonies, and wrapped it up with the Lord’s Supper. The feedback was to keep doing what we are doing, and I hope that God will continue to bless those efforts.
This next week I will get to travel some to an FOB (Forward Operating Base) in Tikrit. From what I have heard this is the birthplace of Abraham, yes the Abraham of the Old Testament. There are huge ziggurats there from Abraham’s days on the earth. There is one on base. So I am excited to be not only part of the mission that is going on there with the guys on the ground, but also to be part of history. So pray for our safety as we fly.
That’s all I have for now. I can’t believe I have been here for two weeks already. Time is flying by and yet I feel every minute of my time here in my body. Thanks for your prayers and well wishes. I have received cards from my mom and PWOC (Protestant Women of the Chapel) Military Ministry sent us many boxes of materials for use in our ministry. I want to thank you for that. Blessings to each of you as you also remain in my prayers. Oh and the picture is a wall painting in front of the chapel.
ABPnews will publish one entry a week from the journal then-Capt. Charles Seligman kept while deployed to Iraq as an Air Force chaplain in 2005. Now a major, Seligman currently serves as the deputy wing chaplain for the 59th Medical Wing at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. He is endorsed by the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.