Memorial Day weekend doesn’t spell boating and barbecues for one member of the California-Nevada Annual Conference. United Methodist Chaplain Bill Rohrer, who served at Grace United Methodist Church in Lovelock, Nevada, will be battling 120+ degree weather this holiday with no lake in sight – as he ministers to members of the Armed Forces serving in Baghdad.
Since being deployed to Iraq as a military chaplain last October, Rohrer serves a vastly increased congregation. “We have 17 services and are responsible for 55,000 folks, including some other country nationals,” he writes.
“We are building a new chapel and should have our first service June 1.”
Besides ministering to the men and women of the Armed Forces, Rohrer writes that he’s working with an Iraqi village and would welcome some stateside help.
“We desperately need school supplies, backpacks, and shoes. The children have no tennis shoes. I am working with one school and will try and send pictures of that too. We can always use children’s clothes and sports equipment,” his letter goes on to say.
Rohrer asks that his fellow UMs keep him and his family in prayer and says he would welcome being on mailing lists and email prayer chains.
And whether he knows it or not, Rohrer is also available for adoption!
An organization called Adopt-a-Chaplain, Incorporated is a Christ-centered, non-profit corporation headquartered in California which has as its sole mission “to provide spiritual and tangible support to deployed chaplains and their families.”
Adopt-a-Chaplain will match churches and groups that wish to “adopt” with a chaplain of similar religious background or interest. The adopting group sends mail and goodie packages on a regular basis to the adoptee – who of course shares the wealth.
“Please pass my sincerest thanks to the folks who sent the Mrs. Beasley’s basket of cookies. I almost had to break up a fight over who got the cookies, but then again everything you send always finds a good home. And occasionally some of it finds a home with me,” one chaplain writes.
“The Otter Pops we received were perfect! If for the next few months all we received were the freezer pops, that would be lovely. [In current temperatures,] freezer pops have to be more important to the troops than oxygen and water. We don’t take your labor of love in vain; thanks for caring,” writes another.
And from a third, “We received your first package, and what a huge blessing it was. We have had a rough time in these first two months here, and the soldiers were blessed to receive your tokens of love and appreciation. We are taking the notes from kids out to the patrol bases where cheer is badly needed.”
Deployed chaplains of all religious backgrounds may receive support from Adopt-a-Chaplain simply by asking. The organization is completely staffed and run by volunteers, so 100% of contributions are devoted to purchasing goods and services for the chaplains.
Individual contributions of time, supplies, or finances are also greatly appreciated. A recurring request from chaplains is for movies (DVDs – not VHS!) and the stationing of more troops at remote outposts has led to an increase in those requests. One chaplain wrote last week, “We are building a morale room for the guys, and movies to watch therein are a part of it. SO – whenever y’all get ahold of any used movies, feel free to push them to us!”
Adopt-a-Chaplain notes that most of us have a shelf with DVDs that we don’t watch any longer and which we’re tired of dusting. It suggests that we make room on our shelves for new ones and lift the morale of our troops at the same time, by sending our “dusty” DVDs to Adopt-a-Chaplain for shipment to troops at the remote bases. By the way, war movies aren’t high on the troops’ priority list – they see that stuff every day. The classics and comedies are the most sought after categories.
And if you live in the San Jose area and would like to help package shipments, Adopt-a-Chaplain does packing every Tuesday and Thursday at 9 a.m.
Chaplain Bill Rohrer plans to retire in September, 2009 and his outfit should be home by Christmas. In the meantime – especially as we prepare to celebrate Memorial Day, a day of remembrance that has special significance for members of the Armed Services – please remember him and his fellows in prayer.