It’s Who You Know

Retired Chaplain Rivals the Energizer Bunny

By Chaplain Bob Hicks, USAF, Retired & FBI Volunteer

Cars, Taxis, & Walking

CRU International Report 2019

Unlike years’ past, this 2019 found me serving the military in four countries.  It was a very busy fall schedule taking me to Canada, Ukraine, Israel and Kenya.

Kingston, Ontario, Canada

Canadian Principal Chaplain

Through a personal relationship with a pastor whose church is just outside the Royal Military College (Kingston), I was able to give my Combat Moral Injury and From Harm to Home lectures with Canadian soldiers, chaplains and volunteers.  I was also pleased to enjoy the presence of the base “Principal” or head, base chaplain.  Most of those present had either been deployed or were soon leaving for Afghanistan as our ally in NATO.  This was a very timely event for these soldiers bringing about many questions and issues about soul wounds of war.  CRU/HQ is now hopeful in formally recognizing the pastor as a CRU military volunteer.

Kiev and Surrounding Areas, Ukraine

During a beautiful Kiev Fall, I lectured at the University of Ukraine (Kiev) to a packed lecture hall of psychology students, national police, emergency officers, and soldiers. Local Press also covered the event and I gave two interviews through my translator. Prior to speaking, I met with the President of the University briefing him about my ministry to veterans.

Ukrainian Veteran Center

The next day, I shared lunch with war veterans, their wives, and some volunteers. Across Ukraine there are Veteran Pizza restaurants started and run by veterans.  Later, I spoke on Moral Injury at a Veteran Hospital in Borispol outside of Kiev near the airport. Later that night I shared my lectures on Combat Moral Injury, PTSD, and Grief issues to veterans. One of the tallest buildings in Kiev dedicated its top floor to serving veterans needs, with job search help, soldier post combat support and teaching computer skills. Every night in Kiev, our team returned to the Vet HUB for meeting with more veterans, spouses, widows, even children having lost their fathers.

Speaking to Career Officers, Kiev Military Institute

Mid-week, I was able to see a major answer to prayer.  For years, CRU Ukraine military had been praying for an opening to some of their officer training facilities.  Through a CRU volunteer who is a Captain at the Kiev Military Academy, he set up my speaking at the General Institute of Defense.  I thought I was speaking to cadets, but when I arrived there were probably 40-45 mid-career and senior officers present. (NOTE: Quick prayer as I walked into the room)

Meeting with Ukrainian Orthodox Bishops, Chaplains, at St. Michael’s Cathedral, Kiev

On my last day, a second prayer request was granted. Ukraine historically, is a Russian/Ukrainian Orthodox church culture. Whether practicing or not, Ukrainians still give high honor to the Orthodox church.  Because Orthodox chaplains deploy to the combat fronts along with Protestants and other groups, the need for serious discussion with the Orthodox leadership has been a long-standing prayer request. Though I don’t know how this came about, I was asked to do a three-hour Q & A meeting with the Kiev Metropolitan (Head Bishop), the Bishop overseeing the Military chaplains plus Orthodox chaplains, even a Catholic (Eastern Rite) Chaplain.  Most of our discussion centered on how our US military Chaplains from many faith traditions work together, how we are trained, even how we are paid!

Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Israel

Leaving Ukraine, I took a side trip to Israel with the CRU European director. Our goal was doing some reconnaissance to see if there were any open doors to serving the Israeli Defense Forces in their constant wartime environment. Having meetings with former IDF soldiers-now pastors we gained valuable insight into how Israel as a nation suffers from PTSD. Over a wonderful lunch across from the New Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem a former student of mine and his wife shared their 40-year experience of sharing Jesus (Yeshua in Hebrew) in Israel. We concluded our time meeting outside Tel Aviv at a Baptist camp which does outreach to young IDF soldiers and doing a two-month recovery time after they finish their two years of required service.  As a result of our time, the European director will be following up the contacts we made.

Mombasa, Kenya

My final trip was a follow up to my last visit to the country two years ago.  While teaching a course at the African International University, (Outside Nairobi), several Kenyan military chaplains sat on my course on Critical Incident Stress Management. The Kenyan military is seriously involved in defending their country from the terrorist group, Al Shabab, based across the border in Somalia. As a result, they asked me and an Army chaplain (retired) to do our briefings on Moral Injury and how Christ brings about healing from traumatic moral/mental injuries. The weather was hot, humid, and rainy but the fellowship among soldiers, CRU staff, with the presence of the Kenyan Principal Chaplain was such a blessing. The response was overwhelming from the soldiers.

Reflections

Each country visited was very different in culture with their own unique issues when it comes to dealing with the mental and physical casualties of war. However, what they all shared was the concern they have for soldiers, wives, children, and widows.  They all agreed government can only do so much but healing the inner wounds of the soul needs a much deeper approach. That’s why my briefings end focusing on issues of forgiveness, repentance, and reconciliation… all spiritual and theological in nature!  As one Ukrainian soldier asked at the end of my presentation, “Why do you talk about Jesus?”  My short answer was, “Because nothing else has worked”.

These trips come about through your CRU support, and faithful prayers. I can’t express how thankful I am for you allowing me the privilege of sharing my military experience with those still facing and recovering from combat.   In the Fight.   Bob

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Editor’s Note:

There’s a song sometimes sung at military retirements. The main lyrics are: “Old soldiers never die they simply fade away.”  The song itself is a British Army’s parody of the gospel song “Kind Thoughts Can Never Die.” In the United States, the phrase was used by general Douglas MacArthur in his April 19, 1951 farewell address to the U.S. Congress (which has become known as the “Old Soldiers Never Die” speech). Whereas some retired military members often fade away, some, like Chaplain Bob Hicks, have continued in productive military and Veteran ministry at home and around the world.

Join us in thanking God for His Grace that continues to work in and through Bob as he ministers Christ’s love, forgiveness and healing power in the lives of those shattered by war; warriors, Veterans, widows and orphans, chaplains and commanders drained by its impact.  Pray also, for him and his 200 fellow CBAmerica chaplains, military and civilian who daily attend to those impacted by “man’s inhumanity to man.”

For more stories by and about CBAmerica chaplains, visit our webpage at http://cbamerica.org/category/chaplaincy/.

For information on endorsement for chaplaincy, email Director Randy Brandt at chapbrandt@cbamerica.org.

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