(June 21, 2011)
|PRISTINA, Kosovo (6/17/2011) - All who join the military serve our great nation, but not all get to serve their fellow soldiers. |
Maj. Michael Lindsay, senior chaplain, for soldiers of Multinational Battle Group East, at Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo, is one of those soldiers who does. Lindsay provides Roman Catholic religious services and support here. In fact, Lindsay was serving soldiers before he ever joined the military, and as chance would have it, that is how the idea to join the military came about.
“I helped provide support for a veteran's assistance workshop at the local armory, as a civilian pastor. After that I was asked to help counsel several soldiers on personal issues and one of the soldiers suggested I become a chaplain,” Lindsay said.
Up to that point Lindsay had never considered being a National Guard chaplain.
“After that was suggested, I thought wow, but I also thought I might be too old. I pondered it and became interested and it felt great that someone thought I could help,” said Lindsay. “I then thought more about it and decided to do it.”
Lindsay was raised in a family that promoted respect toward members of the military.
“My father served in WWII, my grandfather in WWI and I had an uncle who served during the Vietnam War,” said Lindsay.
It's now been 10 years since Lindsay joined the military as a chaplain and has since provided chaplain support in White Sands, N.M., Fort Bliss, Texas, Fort Knox, Ky., and the Santa Fe Regional Reserve Training Institute in Santa Fe, N.M.
Here in Kosovo Lindsay leads the Catholic Mass, celebrates confessions and teaches Bible studies. In addition he counsels with soldiers who are dealing with personal or family issues. Lindsay also teaches classes on suicide prevention, relationship enhancement and interpersonal skills.
Being a chaplain is a great opportunity to provide support and help to others, said Lindsay.
“Service members have to face some tough challenges and at times have to deal with some really awful things,” Lindsay said. “Their commitment and service motivates me to help them deal with the issues of deployment and then reintegrate back into their normal lives at home.”
There are many gratifying parts of being a chaplain according to Lindsay, but one stands above the rest.
“Helping these soldiers get focused and reconnected with family and friends is the most rewarding,” said Lindsay.
Lindsay will have to wait another six months before he gets to again enjoy the work of supporting Soldiers and their families back home. In the meantime he's found other satisfying ways to serve soldiers, through leading worship services and teaching Bible study groups.
“Bible class is good,” said Sgt. 1st Class Rudy Sena, non-commissioned officer in charge of Liaison Monitoring Team 5. “You feel good while you are there and it helps get you through the days.”
Getting through the days can be tough for soldiers and chaplains alike.
“Nothing can ever separate us from the love of God,” said Lindsay who then cited, Romans 8:38-39
38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
He admitted that at times he too looks for, and also needs encouragement and support from the Holy Scriptures, fellow soldiers as well as family and friends back home.
Besides the Scriptures, Lindsay often finds encouragement in the supportive prayers of others.
“When I feel like I'm facing tough times it is great to know that others back home are supporting us with the power of prayer,” said Lindsay.
Chief Warrant Officer 3 Mark Lauer, aviation safety officer, agrees that prayers and service help close the distance between families. While attending a Saturday evening Mass, Lauer said, “It brings me closer to the people back home. I do it every Sunday there [back home], so when I do it here, I don't feel so far away from those I love.”
The diversity and culture of Kosovo has provided Lindsay with exciting and new experiences.
“I presided at a bilingual Polish/English Easter Vigil Mass, and later attended a local parish mass, where an amazing choir was singing in Albanian and Serbian,” Lindsay said. “The next day I was part of a Greek Easter celebration.”
It is these kinds of events that Lindsay enjoys because they enhance his understanding about other faiths and he gets to work with other religious leaders.
“I have had a chance to meet with and talk with local religion leaders that are Muslim, Serbian Orthodox, Greek Orthodox, as well as some other ministers and leaders of other faiths,” said Lindsay.
In such meetings the variety of faith and experience, examples of commitment to God and diversity of culture, strengthens one's own faith commitment, Lindsay said.
Lindsay, who has so enjoyed his service, is thinking of continuing to serve until his mid 60s.
“The military has challenged me to be a better leader and a better man,” Lindsay said. “It's been a real blessing to be a chaplain. I've probably gotten more out of it than anyone else.”
By Army 1st Lt. Casey Staheli
200th Public Affairs Detachment
Provided through DVIDS
Comment on this article