guest post by Owen Chandler
[Editor’s note: Rev. Owen Chandler, the Senior Minister of Saguaro Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Tucson, was deployed earlier this year from the Army Reserve and serves as Battalion Chaplain of the 336th CCSB in Iraq. He frequently writes letters to his home church, and is graciously open to sharing them here on the SWC Blog.
The letter below originally appeared in the May 6 newsletter from his church.]
Beloved Saguaro Christian Church,
It is amazing, really, I am half a world away – surrounded by herds of camels and the dirtiest desert imaginable – and yet my prayers yearn for each of you. I miss you. I miss the joy you embody in your times of worship and service. I give God gratitude for the ways in which the Spirit leads you. I know that the transitions of the church continue. Stay strong. With love, be sure to express your thankfulness for the ministries of Shelly Tilton and Gary Straub and be sure to welcome, again, the pastoral leadership of Bill Robey.
Transitions seem to be a sign of the season. I am about to embark on a new one myself. Our battalion was called to a different mission and in a precarious place. I am giving up my residence in Kuwait. Soon, I will try to make a home close behind the ambiguous front-lines of Iraq. If you can follow the news lately, then you can probably guess where I am headed. I cannot tell you specifically where I will be or what I will be doing, but I ask for your prayers. I’m not scared. I thought I might be, but I’m not. I know that I will be safe. It is a strange feeling. I am trusting. I am trusting that the God that called me into the middle of this mess will not leave my side as I go to minister to all the soldiers under my care as they prepare to do dangerous work within dangerous places. Please pray for my soldiers and our leadership. The game has changed; it is no longer a game.
Thank you as always for your mail and email! The care packages build up the mood of this chaplain and our soldiers. Typically, I share some of the contents with the soldiers in need of care. I show them the box and I tell them to pick out what they want. For the ones that steal my chocolate, I wait until they have taken a bite, and then I say, “That was my favorite piece that I specifically asked for.” And then I walk off. Another senior officer said the other day as I was opening a box, “I wish people loved me as much!” I smiled, threw him a package of nuts and told him, “Honestly, you need to stop whining!” I have a good time here.
Thank you also for the way you continue to love my family. I cannot tell you how much that means to me. I keep thinking that this deployment cannot get any harder on them and then stuff like this happens. Give them hugs for me. They are changing so fast.
May God bless you now and always.
Until we meet again,
P.S. The camels of Kuwait are whimsically perfect. I definitely think that we should put in for a Brady Grant for one. I am sure if we are real nice, then maybe Bill and KC Estes will let us keep it at their place.