1:00 P.M. EST July 2, 2010 | FORWARD OPERATING BASE, Iraq
United Methodist Chaplain (Capt.) John Fimple baptizes a soldier.
UMNS photos courtesy of the Rev. John Fimple.
As I sat down to write this article on what the Fourth of July means
to me, I was interrupted with the news that two soldiers in our brigade
were killed by an improvised explosive device. At that moment, I got up
from my computer to go and minister to our soldiers.
The core identity of an Army chaplain is to provide a ministry of
presence. Perhaps there is no more important time for us to be present
with soldiers than when they are grieving and trying to make sense of
the deaths of their friends. While soldiers are trained to keep going in
the fight and to be tough, they still need prayer and to hear the
comforting Word of God that promises peace.
The news of the two young soldiers who died today in Iraq will most
likely never be heard by the majority of Americans. However, it is the
combined stories of the hundreds of thousands of Americans who, over the
span of our nation’s history, have died or been wounded while defending
our nation that ensures the freedoms and way of life that we cherish.
One thing I am reminded of this Fourth of July is that freedom truly
is not free. The words of Jesus ring in my ears, “Greater love has no
one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13,
‘Why am I here?’
One question I have asked myself many times on this deployment is,
“Why am I here in Iraq, away from my family?” However, every time I
asked myself that question, something would happen that confirmed to me
that this is my calling, my place of ministry – a soldier would come by
wanting some marital advice, or someone would stop me while I was
walking, asking for prayer for a sick child, or I would get a care
package or letter from an anonymous American who wanted to do their part
to say thanks for my service.
United Methodist Chaplain (Capt.) John Fimple
on a convoy mission with soldiers in Iraq.
Jesus tells his disciples in John 15:16, “You did not choose me, but I
chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit – fruit that will
last.” In the bigger picture, on this Fourth of July, I recall many ways
that God has confirmed to our military our place of calling here in
Iraq. This past year we have built strong relationships with Iraqi
leaders and communities and have witnessed the people of Iraq enjoying
That brings me to one last reminder of what the Fourth of July means
to me: With freedom comes blessing. I like what Jesus promises to his
disciples in John 15:16-17, “Then the Father will give you whatever you
ask in my name. This is my command: Love each other.” I think of the
Fourth of July as a time when our nation expresses the blessings that
come with freedom. That’s what backyard barbecues and watching fireworks
light up the night sky and sitting around campfires are all about on
Let me ask that you continue to remember our many soldiers around the
world and their families who make so many sacrifices to ensure the
safety and freedom of our nation. And may God continue to bless the
United States of America.
*Fimple is an ordained elder in the Arkansas Annual (regional)
Conference serving with the 3-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 296 Brigade
News media contact: Kathy L. Gilbert, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or firstname.lastname@example.org.