Will God Have a Place?

Shortly after the end of the Korean War, the National Lutheran Council’s Bureau of Service to Military Personnel published a pre-induction training manual titled, “So You’re Going Into Service.” It was designed for Lutheran ministers to prepare candidates for induction into the Armed Forces and covered topics such as nation, God, self, others, leisure time and future, all in relation to the serviceman. In the chapter, “The Serviceman and God” under the subtitle, “Will God Have a Place in My Service Career?” the availability of the chaplain is taught, as well as the chaplain’s need for the service member. Here are a few paragraphs from this section:

“While he is surrounded by many evil suggestions for ways to take up his time and interest, the young man who has prepared himself for this trip and who sincerely wants to come out two or three years hence as a better man than he went in, finds many opportunities for remaining in touch with God.

“Wherever you go there will be a Chaplain who wears the crosses on his uniform. (Catholic Chaplains also wear crosses but you will soon learn to know your chaplain.) He will be a clergyman from one of the Protestant churches back home, perhaps of your very own church. He is there because he has seen the need of being with the young men away from home and reminding them of the constant presence of God; he believes that this period of two or three years is not a meaningless interlude where the moral laws of God have been suspended, but is a real part of your life.

“Your Chaplain will be most happy to see you at any time. He will be able to suggest many activities which can occupy you during your off-duty hours. Opportunities for being an active churchman are many in the Armed Services. The Chaplain is to a great extent dependent upon you for his program. You will see to it that the bulletin board has an up-to-date announcement concerning the service schedule. If you can procure some lumber you might build a religious corner in your day-room and keep that supplied with good tracts, devotional booklets, and other religious literature.

“The Chaplain will always need choir members, organists and musicians, ushers and greeters, teachers in the Sunday School, and for some with special musical and typing abilities there will be opportunity to take special training to become a Chaplain’s assistant.

“If God gets a place in your service career, you will have no problem in keeping yourself busy. He will be a constant companion through good and evil days. By your accepting Him as your constant Help and Companion you will not only help yourself, but your very presence will be a reminder of God to your fellow men. You will be for them a symbol of all that is good and beautiful and true which they thought they had left behind them when they said, “Good-bye” to their loved ones.”

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From “So You’re Going Into Service.” Washington, D.C.: Bureau of Service to Military Personnel, National Lutheran Council, ca. late 1950’s, pg. 26.

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About Daryl Densford

I am an ordained elder in the Church of the Nazarene serving as an active-duty Army Chaplain. I am currently the Chaplain Resource Manager at Fort Leonard Wood, MO.

Posted on 22 September 2017, in Chaplaincy, History and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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