Kathy Allison of Grace Brethren North American Missions forwards this letter from Grace Brethren Chaplain James Schaefer and asks that Grace Brethren remember to pray for James and other chaplains who serve so gallantly and fearlessly in dangerous situations. Here, as relayed by FGBC Chaplains Endorsing Agent John Schumacher, is a slightly-edited version of James’ letter from Afghanistan:
I just finished a Critical Incident Debrief for one company of my infantry. They saw the death of their soldier and my chaplain assistant (SD), CPL David Fraise. We have had over 11 die of wounds, several of which I have had to open their bags and identify. It hurts so much…to see my friend taken home, yet to know he is taken Home to his reward.
We are in the middle of combat operations and I have been out to visit and counsel four times (I travel every three weeks to minister). Some of the places we have received fire and had to use evasive techniques. I have been in APCs, up armored HUMWWVs and on foot. My assistants are tense, but praying and trusting the Lord. The Lord has given me nine great UMTs, from SOF to Nat’l Guard. They all love the Lord and risk their lives to see Soldiers.
I have been able to see hundreds of Soldiers every Sunday at the beautiful chapel they constructed. We will have a baptism for 20+ candidates who have recently asked Christ into their lives! We also had a Memorial Day Prayer Breakfast with 330+ who came to remember and hear the Word. My COL Pedersen, a Christian man, and I, spoke. I have also witnessed to our Afghan brothers and the Mullahs…I had a forum of 12 and shared my faith when they asked. One was murdered four days after I met him; all for his support of a stable Afghanistan.
The nature of sin and salvation is clear here. Many are risking their lives for temporary things and the Lord is saying that He has an eternal plan, if we will only listen. Many have seen the death of a Soldier and stay to themselves. Some give their lives to Jesus, knowing that His Love is the true Eternal thing they can gain!
Pray for my preaching of the Word–solid, attractive and straight from HIM! Pray for the decisions about life and death and the ministry to those facing it. Pray for our safety as I have sent out the UMTs 27 times in three months with no incidents. Pray for my bride, as she is sending off all our kids [to college soon – edit.], having just lost her Mom in May, somewhat all alone, except for the Lord and our friends.
I love your commitment for the Good Fight…I am enjoying it and consumed by it. God bless you!
James E. Schaefer
CTF Bronco Brigade Chaplain