Chaplains Bring Messages of Hope, Religious Freedom

US military Chaplains are deployed in the Horn of Africa

to establish lines of communication with local religious leaders.

Chaplain (CAPT) Jon Cutler and Chaplain (LtCol) David Terrinoni met with religious leaders and visited a Catholic orphanage.  While their main goal was to interact with the locals, the Chaplains also ministered to the needs of their own team:

“There is religious diversity here, but no synagogues, which make me glad Chaplain Cutler could visit,” said Chief Petty Officer Richard Anthonissen…

Cutler was able to serve Anthonissen in a way that only a rabbi can.

“During my last [CTFJ-HOA] tour, there were only Jewish lay-leaders available,” said Anthonissen. “While they meet your faith needs, a rabbi is much more – a rabbi is a teacher who makes you think and challenge your assumptions in a good way.”

Elsewhere, Chaplain (MajGen) Cecil Richardson, USAF Chief of Chaplains, spoke at Holloman’s National Prayer Luncheon (which, oddly enough, didn’t generate a lawsuit for violating the Constitution…).  The wing commander, Col David Krumm, made a point of saying

“It’s an amazing thing that we can gather here and are able to celebrate the free exercise of religion,” said Col. David Krumm, 49th Wing commander, during the event.

“The goal of the National Prayer Luncheon was to highlight the religious diversity within the Air Force,” said Chaplain (Capt.) Richard Boyd, 49th Wing Protestant chaplain and event organizer. “Our Constitution grants us all the right to practice our religion freely. Even though we may not agree with each other, we can still treat each other with respect.”

Richardson spoke on “hope in the presence of despair:”

[He] told the story of an airman who, several years ago, walked into his office and explained that he had taken a bottle of pills. He recalled the airman’s words.

“‘I figure I’m dying…I thought who would I most like to die with? I want to die with Chaplain Richardson. So if you don’t mind, I’ll sit in this chair and die here,'” he said. “What he didn’t know – that even though I look like a wimp, I’m not. I put him in a fireman’s carry and I took off running.”

The chaplain said he dropped the airman off on the floor of the medical facility, and without breaking chaplain confidentiality, said “I’m making a referral.”

The next day, when he visited the young airman in the hospital, he held his hand. Richardson said that was the moment when, instead of checking out, pigging out or dropping out, he called out.

“He called out to Almighty God and when he called out to God, God touched his life and gave him 100,000 reasons to live,” Richardson said. “Today he is doing wonderfully because now, at last, he has a foundation for his life to stand on.”

This was one of the many personal anecdotes the chief of chaplains used before asking each person in attendance to turn to their faith in times of trouble.

Richardson offered a message of hope to his 200 member audience:

“Do you have burdens that are too heavy to bear? Have you been discouraged rather than encouraged? Is your life’s GPS out of whack and you just don’t know which way you’re going?” he asked.

“(Number one) Hold on to your faith and don’t you ever let go of your faith,” Richardson continued. “Number two: Hope in the Lord. Hope will keep you going. Number three: If you get yourself in trouble or are overwhelmed … and you just can’t take anymore, turn and run into the arms of God. He will be your refuge.”

At the Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield National Prayer Breakfast, the Army Chief of Chaplains Maj Gen Douglas Carver had a similar message on hope:

Major General Carver referenced Psalm 144…”Blessed be the Lord my strength, which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight.”

This Psalm of David is directed to Soldiers and is a favorite for [the Chaplain].  “There is something about hope,” said Maj. Gen. Carver. “We think of those hope-filled stories of Soldiers in battle, who do extraordinary things; they are able to do it because we walk and move out in hope.”

Major General Carver said, “We have never had a greater need for hope than we do today in this world in which we live.”

He asked the question of everyone, “What are you doing to find hope in your life at a time like this?”

“If you want to stay strong and be hope filled, let God be the strength of your life,” said Maj. Gen. Carver. “God is the strength of my life and my portion forever.”

Chaplain Carver also visited Afghanistan near the end of March.

Chap. (Col.) Glen Bloomstrom, command Chaplain of US Joint Special Operations Command, spoke on “Facing Fear in Troubled Times” at the Fort McPherson Prayer Breakfast:

Bloomstrom spoke of one of the most frightening moments of his life: a combat jump with the 3rd Ranger Battalion into Panama during Operation Just Cause Dec. 20, 1989.

On the flight to the drop zone, Bloomstrom said he found peace in reciting Psalm 46:10: Be still and know that I am God. “I don’t know what you are facing today,” Bloomstrom said. “As we face our uncertain future, it can be our faith that makes sense of change and gives us peace to move with confidence and security.”

For Bloomstrom, such a rock [to hold on to weather storms] is found in Isaiah 41:10. From this scripture, Bloomstrom said people can take away five key points, which he called the five pillars of fearlessness: “God is with me, God is my God, God will strengthen me, God will help me and God will uphold me,” he said.