By 1st Lt. Verniccia FordDecember 26, 2018
BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan -- For months on end the Lifeliner religious support team has traveled all throughout the Combined Joint Operations Area - Afghanistan to ensure that Soldiers feed their spirit through the deliverance of biblical teachings, prayer, and spiritual counseling.
As the 101st Resolute Support Sustainment Brigade enters the last quarter of their deployment, Army Chaplains Col. John Murphy and Maj. Jonathan Mcpherson, the chaplain for the 101st RSSB organized a prayer dinner for members of the brigade to come and celebrate fellowship with their unit counterparts.
"Prayer dinners and fellowship are essential; they address the spiritual components of Soldiers lives," said Chaplain Mcpherson, who served as a key element when hosting the event. "Soldiers get to expand their spiritual perspective on God, pray with others and learn about fitting scriptures for personal things they may be currently navigating through in life."
For centuries, military organizations have gathered amongst one another to pray for God's continued blessing over the Nation, Soldiers, and their family members back home while serving on deployment. Prayer dinners have a longstanding lineage; Commanders rally their troops to pray for divine assistance in accomplishing their mission while hearing a message to invigorate their spiritual lives.
The key component of the event is prayer, complimented with special music played by members serving in the unit, along with a breath-taking full course meal and dessert. While Soldiers eat, they actively listen to a spiritual message, given by a guest chaplain whose ultimate goal is to instill spiritual solitude, endurance, and disciplines.
Chaplain Ryan Luchau, with the 495th Combat Support Sustainment Battalion from the Montana National Guard, initiated the event with an invocation.
Captain Brian Robinette, a medical services officer, and 2nd Lt. Ellie Prikazski, a military intelligence officer, both serving with the 101st RSSB performed gospel songs that filled the hearts and ears of everyone in the room. Robinette played the acoustic guitar while Prikazski sang and played the piano. Spectators bowed their heads to pray while others lifted their hands, rejoiced, and sang along.
"I love our choir and I'm so grateful for this opportunity to praise and worship with my Army family," said Prikazski. "As an intelligence officer my days can be long and draining, the lord gives me the strength to keep pushing through."
Prayer dinners normally occur several months into the deployment, which is when emotions can be at an all-time high. Many consider this event to be the preventive maintenance check that stabilize Soldiers spiritual well-being.
"Deployed Soldiers experience trials daily under the shadow of life and death, this dinner places a Soldier face-to-face with God who grants them the confidence to call out to him for help in their time of need," said Chaplain Mcpherson.
Colonel Murphy, the senior Chaplain for the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), was the evening's guest speaker and taught from Genesis 32:22-32. The topic for the evening was "Combative's with God".
Chaplain Murphy emphasized the importance of staying resilient during trying times throughout the deployment and when dealing with things that affect Soldiers personal lives.
"In this life God will put us through character-building experiences, through his grace and mercy we will always prevail and come out on top," said Murphy.
"From this event I want our Soldiers to know that even though deployment brings with it difficultly, God can use this difficult season to change us into the people he has called us to be," said Mcpherson. "Secondly, scripture reassures us that God can use each and every one of us to strive toward his purpose for us in this world."
The prayer dinner concluded with a benediction given by Mcpherson. "God is great and he is able to do above and beyond what we could ever ask or imagine, he will continue to cover the Lifeliner team in his spiritual grace and allow us to redeploy safely to our beloved families."