Thanksgiving and Christmas always bring about a flood of memories—certainly of being together with family and friends, celebrating good things, and throwing caution to the wind when it comes to eating. But there is also a sense of nostalgia for the Thanksgivings and Christmases when we weren’t together as family.
Growing up during the Vietnam War, I remember those times when my dad wasn’t home because he was flying in a far-away place, then the thrill of having him home again. And I remember when I was in the Air Force, pulling nuclear alerts under North Dakota, eating an authentic turkey dinner with all the fixings prepared especially for us “crew dogs.”
For the first four Thanksgivings my wife and I had as a married couple, we didn’t celebrate on Thanksgiving Day together, but rather on the day after. Later I spent two more Thanksgivings and Christmases deployed to Iraq. I remember celebrating Christmas and Thanksgiving weeks later when I got home, and the sheer joy of just being with my wife and sons. Nothing else was needed other than to just be together. But during those times when I was away, I was celebrating with my brothers and sisters in arms. We made a tough situation a little better by enjoying the company of one another, all with a shared circumstance that put us thousands of miles away from home. For a few moments during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, we were able to set aside the chaos of war, enjoy good food, and take satisfaction in knowing that while we may be in harm’s way, our families were not. And that made being away a little more bearable. Several GARBC chaplains are having that experience this holiday season. Their call to service and ministry has taken them to a place where the men and women in uniform they are ministering to can get a word of comfort and encouragement, and the reassurance that there is nowhere on earth they can be that God is not.
This holiday season, remember all our chaplains as they minister on the front lines, in a squad car, or at a bedside. Also remember the men and women who are at this moment away from home, protecting our freedoms and liberties. Pray for their protection, success in mission, and a safe and speedy return home.
The GARBC endorses nearly 90 chaplains serving in military, community service, and institutional environments. Your giving ensures their going!
From the Regular Baptist Chaplaincy, Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas!