by Adriane Dorr
A young man named Jason with a short haircut and arms covered with tattoos sat next to me on a recent flight from St. Louis to San Antonio. Headed to Fort Sam Houston, I was en route to meet up with three other LCMS communicators. Together, we would spend three days learning from and spending time with the LCMS chaplains who care for troops and veterans of the United States military.
Enlisted in the Air Force, Jason talked easily about his first deployment to Kyrgyzstan, his parents in Minnesota, working on his MBA thanks to the GI Bill and what it will be like to redeploy in two months to Afghanistan.
“Does redeploying scare you, knowing what you know now?” I asked him.
“It’s my job,” he replied calmly. “I don’t get to freak out. At least, not outwardly. Not now.”
It seemed like a natural segue. “So, what’s your opinion of chaplains?” I asked. “Do you talk to them about what you’re going through?”
“I’ve talked to a lot of chaplains,” he said quietly. “I’d talk to my chaplain for hours on my first deployment. Now I go to chapel on base every week.” I stayed quiet.
“The great thing,” he continued, “is that they’re here for us. They’re not here for the military. It shows.”
In this issue of The Lutheran Witness, we tell the stories of soldiers like Jason and the chaplains who care for them. Throughout the following pages, these military personnel help us understand how the LCMS is poised to care for these heroes who are in our midst, in our congregations and in our communities. To watch these warriors tell their stories, go to www.lcms.org/thosewhoservevideo.
“Just know we pray for you,” I told Jason as we parted ways at the baggage claim. “That’s what the Church does; she prays.”
His smile was genuine. “I appreciate that,” he said, picking up his camouflage bag. On the back of his right arm, I spotted another tattoo: a sword with a Bible passage wound around it.
“Hey!” I piped up, pointing at it. “Why Isaiah 41:10?”
He turned back around. “Because it says, So do not fear, for I am with you,'” he said. “Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you.”
He stopped, thought for a second, and then said, “Oh yeah, and I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.'” He smiled again, gave a little wave and was gone.
The Lutheran Witness