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The Ministry of Presence

A retired military chaplain shares just how impactful the inspiring words of Guideposts can be to those serving our country.

Chaplan (Colonel) Boone, seen here with his wife, Teresa, served 38 years.

Christmastime can be lonesome for soldiers. I remember being stuck on an Army base in Germany one Christmas Eve with a case of the flu.

My buddies went out partying while I could barely move from my bunk. The one person who dropped by was the chaplain.

“Son,” he said, “you look like you could use some chicken soup.”

I didn’t put much stock in religion then, but the fact that this busy man—he had a Christmas Eve service to put on after all—made time to see me made an impression. He even brought by some of his wife’s chicken soup.

That’s what military chaplains call the ministry of presence. You can’t expect the soldiers under your care to waltz into your office. You’ve got to reach them where they are: in the mess hall, at their posts, in the barracks.

That good man changed my life. I got well, dropped by the chapel, made a profession of faith and eventually became a chaplain myself. (I have to admit the first time he said I had the makings of a minister I looked behind me to see if someone else had walked into the room.)

Soon I was the one visiting lonely soldiers. Instead of chicken soup I brought along care packages with chocolate chip cookies baked by my wife, Teresa. I always included a copy of Guideposts magazine.

A military chaplain has to help soldiers of all faiths and sometimes those of no faith at all. Because Guideposts is ecumenical I knew there’d be something there that would appeal to all.

A soldier can feel depressed, angry, afraid. He might have lost a buddy to enemy fire or received a Dear John letter from his girl back home. He can pick up the magazine and discover, “Hey, I’m not alone.”

Those copies of Guideposts, as well as inspirational booklets and devotionals, are provided free-of-charge to chaplains like me, thanks to donations from readers like you. They’re easy to take wherever faith is needed, to a bunk, the mess hall, a lonely outpost, wherever a chaplain goes. That’s the ministry of presence.

Find out more about Guideposts’ outreach programs.

 

Download your FREE ebook, Inspirational Quotes About Life, Love, Faith and Hope.

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