KHOWST PROVINCE, Afghanistan " A soldier deployed with the 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, 10th Mountain Division, Task Force Tigershark, was baptized at the Forward Operating Base Salerno chapel July 17.
U.S. Army Spc. Guenter Nyanankpe, a mechanic from Columbia, S.C., with Company E, 10th CAB, 10th Mtn. Div., TF Tigershark, formally accepted God into his life in a ceremony performed as part of a regular Sunday service.
“Baptism symbolizes the death and resurrection of Christ,” said U.S. Army Chaplain (Capt.) Seung-Il Suh, the TF Tigershark Chaplain from Fort Drum, N.Y., who performed the ceremony. “You go under the water, meaning you are dead and buried. And when you come up again, that symbolizes resurrection.”
Nyanankpe said he waited until now to go through the ceremony so that he could fully appreciate the significance of being “adopted by God.”
He said his family never had him baptized in his youth, because they felt it was important that he make the decision himself when he was ready, and understood everything associated with it. He never got around to it though, while in high school or in his first few years in the Army.
“During this deployment,” he said, “my attitude was ‘What better time than now?’”
“I could tell that God was doing something inside him,” said Suh, remarking on the changes he noticed in Nyanankpe during the deployment. Suh has known Nyanankpe for about two years.
He said that Nyanankpe at first didn’t seem very serious about his faith until a few months into his deployment.
“He started coming to services every week,” said Suh, “and making a serious effort to pursue life as a Christian. Finally he came to me and asked how to ‘walk-the-walk’ to really live a Christian life.”
Nyanankpe said he sees his faith as a conduit to express his stronger emotions.
“Religion has given me someplace to find refuge when times are tough,” he said, “and a medium to rejoice when God’s blessed me. God is my savior, but emotionally gives me stability during my deployment and the ups and downs in life.”
He said he doesn’t foresee himself changing his personality or behavior noticeably, now that he’s formally given himself to God. He said he plans to continue “fighting the good fight,” which to him means continuing to take his life from the “aimless wandering stumble” it was, to living a purpose driven life and accomplishing the goals he believes God has set out for him.
He said he is particularly thankful for the help and support he’s been given from the ministry team in his unit.
“I really appreciate, and thank God that we have people like Chaplain Suh to mentor people like me,” he said, “young Soldiers, people that are still developing as human beings.”