Today I will let you pick the title you like: WAR IS HELL or A GREAT PLACE TO FIND HEAVEN AGAIN.
During the American Civil War, U.S. Gen. Tecumseh Sherman commented while torching civilian population centers that “war is hell.” He meant that figuratively and, in some sense, literally. Descriptions of combat habitually draw on the vocabulary and imagery of hell.
So many people I have talked to in my time here over the last three years has told me that they have been able to take their deployment experience and make it into something useful in their lives. By that they mean they have started some new regimen that they hope will continue when they get back to the states. War will do that to you—reveal your fears and focus your desires. I just happen to be in one of those career fields that sees lots of people do just this. People come to a deployment and begin to get back into church/chapel, get back into Bible study, or take a class to work on being a better spouse, parent, or child of God. And then for some, the rare few, I have been told that there is no way if there is a God that he would allow for all of this to happen. Chance is their god, the chance that the next mortar might take them, the next IED, sniper bullet… If God is all powerful and all good, then why all this bad stuff around us? The question we usually pose at home when there is a cancer found, or a death of someone young, is why do bad things happen? For many the answer is too difficult to find in Scripture, but let me assure you the answer is there.
War is hell. When I walk to the hospital and see the wounded, the expert surgical staff who are piecing these brave souls back together, I realize that this is never what God intended for us. He did not intend for me to be in Iraq serving a gun trucker unit, a fighter unit, who will go out with guns, armor, and tactics all designed to keep them alive. When I read about how God created the universe I don’t see walls being created, I don’t see a need for protective measures. When God created that perfect garden where he could walk intimately with mankind, he intended for it to be the safest of places. God wanted to share his heaven with us. Sherman, in our quote above may have stumbled over an important theological truth. Perhaps, in a way, war really is hell. War is what the world looks like when God allows people—or some people—the full freedom to do what they wish. Romans 3:23 tells us that all of us have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. Thankfully, I can share that it doesn’t have to end there. We do not have to live with our shortcomings. For so many, there is the second chance, second chances at a good marriage, second chances at living the life God intended, second chances at being a better spouse, parent, child of God. How good is God!!! (That was not intended to be a question.)
Some of the news from the front is that we are planning a baptismal service July 2 and the Band of Brothers study the chapel began last week continues tonight. I am excited to see what freedoms, what second chances God releases into the lives of these men, what healing takes place in the hearts of these great warriors. Forward Operating Base visits are back on again, while Humanitarian missions are still suspended. There are more people who are asking for literature from us, but no funds to replenish these resources. All of our requests for resources have been declined so we are doing it the best we can. I am thankful for all the resources that have been sent by organizations such as Milmin and Ransomed Heart. If you want to help in some way, as many of you ask me what we need, I would say we need books for new Christians and people who are taking a renewed interest in their faith.
Well, thanks for your continued support as we continue the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen here in the 332 AEW. From Balad, Iraq, this is your chaplain reporting, till next week I‘m out…
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.