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RESOURCE CENTER AND ARCHIVES

Army chaplain shares with Gadsden congregationcomment (0)

July 13, 2006

By Leigh Pritchett


Outside Twelfth Street Baptist Church, Gadsden, three members of Gadsden High School’s Junior ROTC color guard prepared for their duties — a glimpse of things to come in the worship hour that morning.
   
The God and Country service July 2 at the Etowah Baptist Association church was one marked by:
   
• A brigadier general playing the piano and singing a selection that he said reflects the heart of the American soldiers who are putting themselves in harm’s way to preserve the liberty of their own country and to give others the taste of freedom.
   
• Don Young, the church’s minister of education, praying that the United States will be a good steward of its leadership role in the world.
   
• A man of limited mobility standing straight and tall as that JROTC color guard brought Old Glory down the aisle.
   
• “Taps” resounding while a decorated Air Force veteran placed a triangularly folded flag in memory of fallen comrades.
   
In his message that day, Brig. Gen. Douglas Carver, U.S. Army 22nd deputy chief of chaplains, enumerated some of the many distressing circumstances around us — the war in Iraq, the start of hurricane season, the constant attempt to chip away at the moral fiber of the nation. 
   
Carver said it appears that the devil has turned his attack up a notch.
   
“I’m not an end-times preacher,” said Carver, an ordained Southern Baptist minister who works at the Pentagon. “But I think something is up.”
   
He pointed out how our time now mirrors what is reflected in Daniel 12:1–3. 
   
Not only is it a period of distress but it is also a time for Christians to respond. 
   
“This is our time, our destiny,” just as Esther was placed in a certain position at a specific moment “for such a time as this,” Carver said.
   
Because of that destiny, he said Christians must be a light to shine, to reflect the glory of God, to show the way to others and to give hope in times of despair. Christians have to be concerned about others and tell them that the only source of light in a dark world is Jesus Christ.
   
Carver — who served in Iraq and went to Afghanistan earlier this year — told The Alabama Baptist that U.S. soldiers understand their mission in this time and are completely committed to it.
   
“The morale of the troops remains extremely high,” he said. “They feel they are contributing a tremendous role in shaping the future of Afghanistan.”
   
Years ago, Afghan children wanted grenades to use against their enemy. 
   
Carver said now they want U.S. soldiers to give them pencils; the youth have had the chance to go to school and learn and they crave education.
   
He said there is a great spiritual awakening among U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Horn of Africa.
   
“Chapel services are full, Bible studies, prayer meetings,” Carver said.
   
He recounted the story of an injured soldier who sang a hymn as he was being taken to a helicopter. The man had lost a lot of blood and probably was going to die. 
   
As he grew weaker, his singing faded. When he could sing no more, the four soldiers carrying his stretcher sang the hymn for him.
   
Carver said a precious memory he has of serving in Iraq is of conducting an Easter service in a hangar where Saddam Hussein had kept private planes. 
   
That morning, rather than containing a dictator’s secret stash, the hangar in Iraq was filled with 700–1,000 people worshiping the risen Lord in the middle of a predominantly Muslim country.
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