In every war ever fought in history, there have been spiritual leaders who brought God’s message to the men in battle. Elisha, the Prophet, is one such leader. Today, we might call him a chaplain. He had an ear tuned to heaven and could hear the faintest whisper of God. He knew about the strategies and tactics of the Syrian army that had laid ambushes to destroy the Israeli army. God used Elisha to save the lives of these Special Forces repeatedly by revealing the enemy’s plans.
We need those kind of dedicated men and women today in our military forces whom God has called in ever age. "Bringing God to soldiers, and soldiers to God" has been the theme of the Chaplaincy for many years. Our chaplains stand before commanders as well as the rank and file members of the armed forces today with the Word of God.
An outstanding illustration of the role and ministry of the chaplain comes to us from the Gulf War twenty-one years go. General Ronald Griffith, former Vice Chief of Staff of the Army, and the commander of the U. S. 1st Armored Division in the Gulf War tells his amazing story regarding his unique relationship with his chaplain, Danny Davis, and the influence of prayer and God’s intervention in that historic war.
Although our military forces that fought in Desert Storm were the best trained and equipped of all armies that have ever fought, General Norman Schwarzkopf and our generals feared that there would be mass casualties and thousands of wounded men.
After a long extended staff meeting held by General Griffith in the desert prior to the invasion of Iraq, Chaplain Danny Davis approached the general and asked for a private meeting with him. Chaplain Davis asked, "General Griffith, what’s bothering you, Sir? I sense you are under a lot of stress and worried. I see it in your body language and hear it in your voice. Would you like to tell me about it?" The general told him about his great concern for the men. The thoughts of having to send his men home in body bags to their moms and dads, wives and sweethearts, and brothers and sisters tormented him day and night.
Chaplain Davis said to the General, "Sir, I have been talking with God. He has told me that the battle will not be long and drawn out. It will last only a matter of hours. You will not suffer mass casualties and injured men. The battle is not yours, but the Lord’s. Go to bed . . . get a good night of rest . . . be a peace."
General Griffith said, "I sensed that God Himself had spoken to me through my chaplain. I went to my tent, got into my bunk, fell asleep immediately, and slept soundly for about four hours."
What was the result? The war lasted only a matter of hours. There were only four casualties and fifty-seven men wounded in the division. He continued, "I want to give God all the glory, and thank Him for giving me a chaplain, a man of God, who hears from heaven."
You might ask, how does this story apply to VA hospital chaplains*(Hugh wrote this story when he was chairman of the Endorsers Conference of Veteran Affairs Chaplaincy). It is my belief that chaplains not only minister to the patients and their families, but to the doctors and staff. They need affirming as professionals and persons of worth. They, also, need to hear a Word from God. It takes moral courage to speak up and speak forth a word in due season.
The sage of the ages, Solomon, wrote, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver” (Proverbs 25:11, KJV). I like Eugene H. Peterson’s rendering of this verse of Scripture, “The right word at the right time is like a custom-made piece of jewelry” (The Message). We can know God’s Word by an intimate personal relationship with Him, and by reading Holy Scriptures. May God give you and me the right word for the right occasion that will be received as a Word from God, Himself.
Hugh H. Morgan