My unit deployed to Kuwait in the summer of 2022. We were there for nine months.
I’m not sure what most people imagine when they hear the word, “deployment.” Well, I’ll explain a little bit of what my deployment was like so you don’t have to imagine. As a human resources officer, I worked in an office with computers and phones. The office was dusty, but it had the essentials like electricity and air conditioning. My work day mostly consisted of what seemed like endless meetings and emails and due outs. The DFACs (acronym for dining facility, basically a cafeteria) we ate at were well-stocked with a variety of options. Shower facilities could be used daily even though they had limited privacy and sometimes less-than-clean. We had gyms we could work out at.
Now I say all this to illustrate the point that we were in relative physical comfort, where I was in Kuwait. We weren’t dodging bullets or bombs, at least not physical ones.
But amid what I would consider relative physical comfort and safety, I could see that the world is a dark place, spiritually that is. We may not realize it from time to time or we may not want to admit it, but the world is a dark place. Darkness presents itself in many forms; on the deployment, I saw darkness mainly through death. No combat deaths, we were not on a combat deployment, but the unexpected deaths of family members. A soldier might be deployed oversees and when the unfortunate news of death of one of his family members hits, we would send him home for a short duration to partake in the grieving process. Paperwork is needed to process all this and my team processed a fair share of these types of paperwork. A lot more than I can or would like to count at this point. Besides death, symptoms of our dark, fallen world are many: mental illnesses, addictions, broken families, physical ailments and diseases. The list goes on. The symptoms listed are just few of the results of this dark world that I had observed on the deployment.
“I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.” (John 12:46) This is God’s remedy in response to our dark world. Jesus, the Son of God, came as light into this world and conquered darkness through his work on the cross. We as believers know this. I knew this. But verses like above begins to hit home more deeply after seeing just how dark our world is. One of the more practical ways that God shone His light on me on this deployment was through a group of men.
One day I was approached by a guy after chapel service (that’s what we called Sunday worship service) and we ended up grabbing lunch together. He invited me out to a morning meeting that was going on at the time. It was a small group of Christian men that met at the DFAC in the morning to open the day in the Word of God. I did not know that such a gathering existed, but I was interested and soon began to join them. Long story short, this time in the morning that we spent together in the Word and in prayer was a source of light, strength, and encouragement in the midst of the daily grind in the desert. Unfortunately, the gathering dissolved a few months before the end of my deployment as some of the key members of the group returned home before I did and I failed to attract new members. But looking back, when I most needed it, God shone his light through a small group of fellow believers. And I hope I was able to do the same with those who I deployed with; however small my gestures might have been. Because the light of God is life-giving!
“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)