Thursday, May 25, 2006

Military Prayer Breakfast for Troops Deploying from Hawaii

The Senior Chaplain at Scholfield Barracks organized an on-base prayer breakfast yesterday morning on behalf of the 7,000 soldiers of the 25th ("Tropic Lightning") Infantry Division who will be deploying to Iraq over the next 2-3 months.

Local church leaders and represetatives from numersou community organizations and social projects were invited.

Major General Mixon gave the keynote address and, surprisingly, the U.S. Army video shown on the big screens focused on sodiers who had lost one or more limbs from IED and other devastating battlefield and aircraft incidents in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Seeing a legless young female Army helicopter pilot expressing gratitude for those who risked their lives to save her own . . . and then listening to her commenting on her determination to overcome the hardships that lay ahead . . . made the high-stakes risks that will be part of this deployment painfully obvious.

You've got to Hand it to the military, however. They do not try to hide reality from their soldiers. Needless to say, there was not a great deal of superficial nonsense or lighthearted humor being bantered about during the event.

Those present were encouraged to find ways to be involved with the deploying soldiers and their families in the coming year. My own congregation provided regular "care packages" to the 15 or so men and women from our church family who spent up to a year in Iraq and Afghanistan on the last deployment two years ago. This time around we have only identified three active members who will be leaving. We will, of course, provide love and support for them as well as for others who are related to church members and a few soldiers who do not have a church of family to support them while overseas.

During one of the prayers a particular phrase caught my ear. While we may have heard it (or something like it) before, it seemed to carry a more profound meaning for me this morning. Perhaps you might want to include it in your own prayers sometime.
We do not know what tomorrow holds; but we do know who holds tomorrow