For the last seven and a half months, Chaplain Bill Gasser has been serving in Kandahar, Afghanistan, as head of pastoral care at the trauma hospital. Working in a combat hospital, he “saw suffering and death up-close and personal,” involving U.S. and NATO troops and Afghans. (Read about his ministry in “Chaplain Gasser Serving in Afghanistan.”) Though he worked 12-hour days seven days a week, God kept him well, so he never missed a day at the hospital in all his months of “boots on the ground.” Bill was also heavily involved in preaching in chapel services, counseling, and participating in memorial services. “There were bad days, . . . but there were also many blessings as lives were saved, broken bodies healed, and the gospel of Christ changed lives. God worked in answer to your prayers.”
Gasser reports, “During my last Sunday chapel service in Kandahar, I asked the congregation, ‘How many of you made a new or deeper faith commitment on this deployment?’ At least half of those present raised their hand. God does amazing work in hard places. Throughout my time in Afghanistan, I heard remarks like these: ‘I recommitted my life to Christ and everything has changed.’ ‘I thought I was ready for Afghanistan, but I wasn’t. God used you in preaching moments to speak to me and reveal my needs.’ ‘God showed me my anger, His love, and what I needed to work on. . . . I’ve come back to church, Bible study, and prayer.’ ‘I’m growing spiritually through Bible studies.’ ‘God used you to save my marriage.’ ‘Chapel kept me going—it was the best part of this deployment!’ And many more testimonies. Only the Lord knows the eternal impact. You prayed, and God opened doors.”
During his 22 hours of flying time from Kandahar to Kansas, Gasser began a list of lessons God had taught him: “My time in Afghanistan reminded me that the world is broken; people suffer and die in what seems to be random or unjust circumstances. Life is a fragile and precious gift that is so easily lost. I saw the face of evil. But I also saw that God does good work in bad places and meets us there with grace. We need to remember that comfort whether we’re living in Afghanistan or here in America.”
Welcome home, Chaplain Gasser. Thank you for a job well done.