Service members, civilians celebrate Easter in Afghanistan
April 2, 2013
FORWARD OPERATING BASE SHANK, Afghanistan - Many Christian U.S. military service members and civilians attended various Easter services on Forward Operating Base Shank in Eastern Afghanistan, March 31.
There were many religious services throughout the week known as Holy Week, believed by Christians to be the week before Jesus Christ was crucified and then died. The services on Easter Sunday commemorated his resurrection.
The services throughout the week included Catholic and Protestant services and events like the Lord's Last Supper services on Thursday. Good Friday services were followed by a showing of the movie "The Passion of the Christ" on Friday. Easter vigils, or late services, were held Saturday.
Sunday started with sunrise services, Easter Mass, non-denominational and gospel services that were followed by baptisms.
"The message is, he is risen," said Chaplain Maj. David Trogdon, the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division chaplain, "because he lives, we have hope."
"To me this is spiritual resiliency," Trogdon said, "knowing that God loves us that Jesus died for us, he rose from the dead, and he's with us."
"He's with our families back home as well," Trogdon added.
In between the Sunday services, four people were baptized outside of the St. Michael's Chapel on FOB Shank.
Chaplain Capt. Christopher Hart, an Atlanta native, the chaplain for the 703rd Brigade Support Battalion, 4th IBCT, baptized Staff Sgt. Gilman Wilkins, a native of Decatur, Ga., and a unit supply sergeant with 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 4th IBCT. Trogdon baptized Master Sgt. Christopher Gonzales, the 4th IBCT brigade fire support operations sergeant from Brooklyn, N.Y.; Sgt. Rashon Johnson, a communication security custodian with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4th IBCT, and a native of Newark, N.J.; and Dilip Saha, a civilian contractor employed as a mechanic, from Kolkata, India.
"Baptism is our outward show... that we have committed our life to Jesus," said Trogdon. "We identify with his death on the cross for our sin, his burial, and Easter his resurrection. Our old life is dead and we are a new person in him; we are forgiven."
Some of the nondenominational Protestant services included small musical groups comprised of service members and civilian contractors. The services began with an upbeat song, while the congregation stood and greeted one another.
The week's events marked the special holiday for many Christians ended with Easter dinner, to include some outpost locations where leaders served food to their soldiers.