Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

God's Warriors

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

God's Warriors

Article excerpt

It was April 1971, in Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam. We'd been attacked by Viet Cong who'd infiltrated our perimeter. I didn't know what faith group the severely wounded man I ministered to that night belonged to, and it didn't matter. As a military chaplain serving in a combat zone, I was there to help him feel the presence of God, divine Love, caring for him, supporting him, sustaining him.

I prayed aloud the Lord's Prayer, and silently prayed to help him feel some sense of peace, that he was dwelling in the presence of his heavenly Father. I moved on to pray with the other three guys lying next to this man, all waiting to be medivaced.

It was a long night. I learned the next day that he didn't make it. I had to ask myself then, and several times after that, whether what I'd done in providing that ministry had made any difference. The man had died in spite of the prayers and medical treatment he'd received. The affirming answer that came to me was found only through deepening my own faith and understanding of the all-power and ever-presence of God, divine Love.

At the time, there were more than 300 chaplains serving in that combat zone. They represented several major faiths, all wanting to bring the healing message of God to those who were fighting in the war. With the simple desire to bring blessing to those around us, we found ourselves offering our ministry before, during, and after battles in which the most horrific elements of death and destruction became almost commonplace. And our ministry was offered to everyone we served, not just the members of our own faith.

It's probably fair to say that on any battlefield, in any century, the interest in discriminating between faiths disappears in light of the demand to help wounded and dying soldiers feel the presence of God in their hour of need. I'd been inspired by a statement from the Christian Science textbook that motivated me when I first was considering entering the chaplaincy: "... blessed is that man who seeth his brother's need and supplieth it, seeking his own in another's good" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," p. …

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