Army Chief of Chaplains delivers message of hope
March 24, 2011
FORT STEWART, Ga. - The 22nd U.S. Army Chief of Chaplains, Maj. Gen. Douglas Carver, delivered more than an inspirational message. He planted seeds of hope for everyone in attendance at the 2011 Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield National Prayer Breakfast at Club Stewart, March 21.
"God is a God of hope, regardless of your religious background," said Maj. Gen. Carver.
A poignant welcome was given by Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Phillips, 3rd ID deputy commander, who briefly talked about his own personal struggles with depression, before breakfast was served. After the meal, Maj. Gen. Carver, a Rome, Ga. native, took to the stage to deliver words of encouragement for Soldiers, Family Members, civilians and retirees.
Major General Carver opened his message personally performing on piano a song of worship, written by Marie Barnett, who wrote the song shortly after losing her best friend to suicide.
"You are the air I breathe, your holy presence living in me; I am desperate for you, and I'm lost without you," sang Maj. Gen. Carver.
The song entitled "Breathe," was played quite often at Camp Victory in Iraq, according to Maj. Gen. Carver, and visibly touched many in attendance.
"Leadership is about pulling out the song in all of our lives," he said. "We do that when we encourage one another, and show respect and dignity to one another."
He thanked Soldiers for what they are doing on behalf of the nation and the world. The crowd was also asked by Maj. Gen. Carver to give a special round of applause for those Soldiers just returning from combat and the spouses of those Soldiers.
"What would we do without our loved ones supporting us as Soldiers in one of the toughest times in history," said Maj. Gen. Carver. "I thank God for my spouse."
He asked everyone in the room to punch holes in darkness so that others may see light.
He spoke in detail about the advancement of 3rd ID Soldiers into Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom, and how fallen heroes like Sgt. 1st Class Paul R. Smith, proved his medal and made the ultimate sacrifice.
"He defended to the death about 100 Soldiers from the enemies advance", said Maj. Gen. Carver. "I remember going to that site and standing there. It was truly holy ground and beyond words."
Sergeant First Class Smith's fingers were frozen to his weapon because he made a decision that to the death he was going to protect and defend his battle buddies.
Major General Carver referenced Psalm 144; specifically, verse 1 which says, "Blessed be the Lord my strength, which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight."
According to Maj. Gen. Carver, this Psalm of David is directed to Soldiers and is a favorite for him.
"There is something about hope," said Maj. Gen. Carver. "We think of those hope-filled stories of Soldiers in battle, who do extraordinary things; they are able to do it because we walk and move out in hope."
Major General Carver said, "We have never had a greater need for hope than we do today in this world in which we live."
He asked the question of everyone, "What are you doing to find hope in your life at a time like this'"
"If you want to stay strong and be hope filled, let God be the strength of your life," said Maj. Gen. Carver. "God is the strength of my life and my portion forever."
In reference to the scripture Psalm 121, Maj. Gen. added, "God, the maker of heaven and earth over watches our lives."
"God is keeping watch over our lives; that's our security," said Maj. Gen. Carver. "Look to God to be the strength of your life and sustain you for all of the things you need."
Major General Carver concluded by saying that living with hatred and unforgiveness in our hearts along with little sense of security can lead to dark times for many.
"If you don't have security, you don't have hope," said Maj. Gen. Carver. "Your security is through your relationship with almighty God and that is security."
After a gift presentation by Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Phillips, the breakfast was concluded by the benediction given by the deputy installation chaplain, Chap. (Maj.) Samuel Cabrera.