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A chaplain in Afghanistan

Recently I have had occasion to talk with two mothers, both of which have had sons serving out in Afghanistan but how have now returned home after several tours. Their relief understandably is great.  I have huge admiration for the men and women serving out in that country, indeed anywhere where they operate in a dangerous environment.

In the Church Time of 4th September the back page carried an interview with Rev Anthony Feltham-White who serves as a team of chaplains for 19 Light Brigade in Helmand Province. Here are a few of the answers to the questions that were put to him  ( the format doesnt give the questions, but you can tell what they are from the answers)

“All chaplains are non-combatants. We do not carry weapons under any circumstances. That said, we try to accompany our soldiers wherever and whenever it is appropriate to do so. My unit always tell me when it is too dangerous for me, and thats important as, becuase I am unarmed, somebody always has to watch over me which can be a great burden for the soldier doing the job”.

” I’m not sure I cope. A six-month tour uses all my reserves of everything. I immediately think of  “footprints in the sand” as I feel the arms of God carrying me every step of the way. Being among and ministering to the young men and women in our armed forces is a remarkable privilege and extraordinarily fulfilling, but on operations it is a roller coaster ride. I’m on my knees at the end – but perhaps thats the best place to be”

“On a recent trip out, I was delighted to talk with a whole host of Afghan children. It was their school holiday and they eagerly danced about in the hope of some chocolate. It was heartening to watch them play and jump in and out of the river. A country where children play must surely have a future.”

” I have found the scale of our losses both dead and injured frightening. It is not just the victims, but their families and friends: the effects ripple out much further than we imagine.”

” I am constantly amazed and humbled by the extraordinary courage and commitment shown by our soldiers in this most hostile of environments.”

“Our services and Bible studies are always well attended, but what impresses me are the myriad conversations I have with soldiers in the most extraordinary places”

” Most of my battalion wear a cross on their dog-tags, and are constantly asking me to pray for them and with them; some are veen baptised with our here. There is an old expression that there is no such thing as an atheist ina  foxhole. In many ways that still holds true.”

” My favourite part of the bible is the Sermon on The Mount”. It’s all there in those three chapters in Matthew. If only we all took to heart what Jesus is explaining, then our soldiers would not have to be fighting and dying in this place”.

” In this sort of place I pray all the time. I pray for my family, I pray for my colleagues, I pray for all victims of this conflict, I pray for the miracle of peace in this place”.

Next time paxtonvic has a moan about having too much to do….. I shall remeber the courage of chaplains like Rev Feltham -White and get things into perspective

afghanistan

September 19, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized

1 Comment »

  1. Hi Annette,

    Just spotted your blog whilst looking for a web site with the text of the article you quote. Thanks for your prayers. I left Afghanistan in September last year, but am due to return this October for a further six months! Not sure who’ve I’ve offended!
    You’re not far away, if you fancy me popping up one Sunday to talk to your parishoners about what we do, I’d be happy to. Many blessings. Antony FW

    Comment by Ant Feltham-White | May 10, 2010 | Reply


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