It’s an extremely busy piece of geography—this tiny nation. Known as “The Gateway,” Kuwait is the point of in- and out-processing for U.S. troops deployed to Iraq. Nearly 3,000 troops pass through our bases in Kuwait every day as they either begin their tour of duty in theater or return home after completing their mission.
Currently two of our Regular Baptist chaplains are assigned to assist in this strategic location. As the Army central command chaplain, Chaplain (COL) Craig Wiley is responsible for all of the chaplaincy ministry being conducted by Army, Air Force, and Navy chaplains in Kuwait. CDR Bill Gasser, CHC, USNR, is working specifically with sailors as they process out of theater headed home. Both are having a vital ministry.
Recently it was my privilege to visit Chaplains Wiley and Gasser on location, staying at Camp Arifjan and visiting Camp Buehring, Camp Virginia, the Army Life Support Area near Ali Al Salem Air Force Base, and the Kuwait Naval Base. At the various locations I had great times of interaction with some of the soldiers as they finalized preparations to caravan into an FOB (forward operating base) in Iraq. I talked with the son of a couple from my home church, Bible Baptist in Kokomo, Ind., reminding him that our association and our church are praying for him, and bringing him greetings from his family back home. I also represented our association with the command staff and briefly shared the gospel. I was also able to meet Chaplain Gasser’s supervisory chaplain, and observe and participate in one of Chaplain Gasser’s warrior transition briefings. I thanked the sailors for their sacrifice and service to our country and for helping to keep our families safe. I told them of the prayer support of our churches even though we didn’t know them by name, shared Isaiah 41:20 with them, and reminded them that God wants to be their Oasis in the desert experiences of life. Of the 15 or so sailors in the class, over half of them had encountered combat; and of that number, nearly half had a friend lay down his life for our freedom. I was in the presence of our nation’s heroes.
We are not the only nation paying the price for freedom. Kuwait has also paid dearly. At the Kuwait Naval Base I was shown the assassination wall, where in 1990, after the Iraqi invasion, Kuwaiti military personnel watched their families being killed and then were assassinated themselves. As I stood before that bullet-ridden wall, I was again reminded that freedom is never free.
Worshiping in the chapel at the Army’s Life Support Area near Ali Al Salem Air Base, I was impressed with the spiritual vitality of the troops gathered together and their desire to impact their friends for Christ.
I thank God for the professionalism and determination of our troops. Our freedom is in good hands. And I thank God for the godly leadership of our chaplains, who are faithfully pointing our servicemen and women to Jesus Christ, the Gateway to true freedom. Lives are being changed for eternity. Please continue to uphold our chaplains, our troops, and their families in your prayers.
John Murdoch is director of Regular Baptist Chaplaincy Ministries.