One of my favorite quotes is from C.T. Studd. He says,
Some prefer to live within the sounds of chapel bells, I prefer to set up a rescue shop within a yard of hell
or as is the case here, in a place of many discomforts. I realized this week something about myself. There is so much need here and what I have realized about myself is that I am a person who tries to meet need, maybe to a fault. Here, I cannot meet all the need, I will wear myself out and the need will continue. So I have had to slow down and not feel guilty about that. I really wish I could do more. But I am only one man. I trust God to do it all through me. What keeps you going is watching how much the Iraqi people want freedom. Most of the insurgents are imported just to fight the Americans, but few of them are actual Iraqis. But there is one Iraqi who is truly inspiring, and I want to share his story.
Last week, you may have seen on the news that a woman was killed right after her wedding to a man in Baghdad. Well, that groom survived the attack and is in our hospital. The people who tried to assassinate him and his wedding party are also in our hospital. The groom is in a separate ward of course. But his commitment is so inspiring. He is an Iraqi police officer. He has already lost his older sister and younger brother to the terrorist attacks and another of his brothers has lost his hand. Now his wife, who he had just said “I do” with has been killed. He is unwavering. He wants to go back out and do his job as a policeman so that his country, Iraq, can be free. He doesn’t want the Americans to just give him freedom he and so many like him are willing to put their own lives on the line for the right to be free. Continue to pray for them as they will be signing a constitution this month. How exciting!!! I hope you can get a picture of what life is like here. But to do that you would really have to be here.
Somebody sent me an email describing the protectors in our society (police, firemen, military) as sheep dogs. The people being protected, who choose not to participate in that protection directly as the sheep, and of course the wolf (the enemy the sheep dogs protect the sheep from). It is too long to include here, but was a very comprehensive look at how important it is for there to be someone who will go to very harsh places to sit in the towers at all hours no matter what the weather in order to ensure the sheep have a safe place to lay their heads in comfort. If you saw the movie The Patriot you might remember the preacher going off to war saying that sometimes the Shepherd has to protect the sheep… This is my assignment. While we chaplains do not carry firearms and would never actually engage in offensive warfare, what we do here is spiritually combative. Just tonight, I sent a convoy out the gate into harms way, praying for them before they went out. It was great, as I was walking away, one of the KBR drivers said, “We need to roll with these guys more, they bring their own chaplain.” I laughed. But that prayer that I just prayed has an awesome effect in the hearts and minds of those who stay for the prayer time, and it has an overwhelming effect in the spiritual realm. I pray for the usual things protection, safety, God’s presence and assurance, comfort and peace. But I also always include a prayer against the insurgent spirit in this country. That God would surround us with a canopy of protection from heavenly emissaries we cannot see. That they would go before clearing a path and thwart all plans of the enemy. It is spiritual warfare that I fight on behalf of these going outside the wire. And it is the same for those here.
It amazes me how few people have even been injured by the constant mortar attacks on our base. To wake up to the sound of an alarm and explosions, rolling out of bed, onto your floor to put on your body armor at 3 a.m. and praying, “God cover us, protect us now. Help those who will respond, and those who may be injured. Prepare us for what is ahead.” Yet in every attack maybe one or two will ever get injured. It is nothing short of miraculous! Even those who would never step into a chapel service have said it, “God was with us, it’s a miracle.” I sat with one young man whose trailer was hit by a round as he was sleeping. He was in tears, and shaking. We sat and talked and he was so thankful that God had saved him. He knew exactly how close he had come. Yet, not a scratch on him. His neighbor had shrapnel go right through the bed he was asleep on. Holes in his mattress and sheets, yet not a mark on him. Why am I saying all this. Because we serve a God who answers our prayers and who goes before us in battle. If what we were doing was wrong, God would not grant us His presence like he does.
If you are just getting this email or in the next few hours are reading this, then please send up a prayer for a convoy I sent out tonight. Right now they are on Tampa (a main road that runs just outside our gate north and south). Pray for their safety and to stay alert in the darkness of night. Also, both of my missions got cancelled this week. Please pray that my missions off base will have airlift support.
OK, well I better get to bed. One month to go!!! Hope all is well with you all, see you soon.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. You can read more of his story published September 11, 2013. You can also read older journal entries from Maj. Seligman. Watch a video documentary of the ER where Maj. Seligman served – he’s even in the video for a few seconds!