Baghdad, Iraq, 2004

By Manning Brown

The saying goes, “It is better to give than to receive.” Perhaps no better example of giving is the ministry of chaplains.

My own personal experience with chaplains and their unique ministry goes back to my first deployment to Baghdad in the fall of 2004. It was an exciting time, for as a member of the profession of arms, you train for war, and deploying is a culmination of all that preparation. But it was also a challenging time, because it was my first Christmas separated from my wife and children, and separation is the hardest part of being a military family.

My office was in a government building across the street from the Al Rashid Hotel. On a regular basis, we were visited by several of the chaplains assigned in the “Green Zone.” Most of the time, our interaction was a simple “How are you doing?” But the great thing was when we answered, they listened. Their question wasn’t just a greeting; it was genuine.

Celebrating Christmas in Iraq was a different experience (and it wouldn’t be my last). It was amazing yet humbling to sing Christmas carols proclaiming Christ’s birth in one of Saddam’s former palaces. The worship services and overall effort to ensure that Christmas was not forgotten in the “fog of war” were the responsibility of chaplains and their staffs. That Christmas was truly memorable. But the role of chaplains is also vital on the home front. While I was away, the chaplains back home routinely checked in on my wife and sons, making sure there were being taken care of. That was a tremendous comfort to me as a husband and father thousands of miles away.

And while the military environment brings a unique set of challenges and opportunities for chaplains, community service and institutional chaplains have the same types of challenges and opportunities. First responders serve 24-7; there is no Christmas break. Likewise, chaplains minister to staff and those under their care 24-7. Chaplains are there to comfort, encourage, counsel, provide pastoral care, pray, and ensure their freedom of religious expression. Chaplains epitomize giving, and the receiver is truly blessed.

I am thankful for the nearly 90 chaplains Regular Baptist Chaplaincy endorses. Their commitment to the military, our communities, and institutions across the country deserves our praise and prayer. This Christmas, consider giving to Regular Baptist Chaplaincy. As director, it is my goal to be a support,  encouragement, and resource to all our chaplains, who sacrifice so much and stand ready to serve. Your giving allows our chaplains to do their giving—ministering by intersecting lives with truth at the greatest points of need.

Manning Brown is director of Regular Baptist Chaplaincy and the chaplain endorser of the GARBC.