By Chaplain Dan Klender, USN, Miramar Marine Corps Naval Air Station
While transiting back to the states from the British Indian Ocean Territories in October 2018, I spent ten days in Yokosuka, Japan. While there, I was able to fellowship with one of our great Navy chaplains, Jonathan Stephens, and his lovely family. After an incredibly busy tour at Diego Garcia, I finally had some free time to resume writing a book I had started several months earlier, Living With the End in View: Escaping the Tyranny of the Here and Now.
This work is not about the signs of the times, or the apocalypse, but eternal rewards. Unbeknownst to all of us, the COVID pandemic invaded our lives in early 2020.
As the chaplain for at Navy Consolidated Brig Miramar, California, I began to reflect on how this book might encourage our prisoner population and others. As you might imagine, prisoners often find themselves mired in the swamp of despair.
While they eagerly anticipate the day of their release, they fear considerable challenges of employment, re-assimilation into society, family reintegration, and social ostracization.
I began to wonder how the book might offer hope to this segment of the body of Christ. I quickly made several copies available through the chapel library.
The feedback I received from many of the prisoners reading the book was positive.
C.S. Lewis asserted, “God is not as interested in what a man is currently, but what he is becoming.” This is a quote I often cite to the men and women at the BRIG. Erstwhile United States Senate chaplain, Peter Marshall, was surely correct while rhapsodizing, “It is better to fail in a cause that will ultimately succeed than to succeed in a cause that will ultimately fail.”
Below is an excerpt from Living With the End in View: Escaping the Tyranny of the Here and Now. .
What Are You Living For?
Corporal Jason Dunham was born on November 10th, the Marine Corps’ birthday. As a recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor, Dunham was born to be a Marine. What did Corporal Dunham do to merit the U.S. military’s most distinguished award? He had been leading a fire team of Marines who were ambushed. He quickly found himself locked in hand-to-hand combat with an insurgent. As an Iraqi militant had seized Dunham by the neck, he shouted to team members, “Watch out he has a grenade in his hand!” At which point the insurgent tossed the grenade into the group of Marines after releasing his grip from Dunham. This brave young Marine without a seconds’ hesitation thrust his Kevlar (helmet) and body over the grenade to shield his fellow Marines from the impact.
Dunham was mortally wounded, dying eight days later at Bethesda Naval Medical Center. For his heroism, he was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor and had a U.S. Destroyer, the Jason Dunham named for him.
The pastor officiating at his memorial service remarked: “Jason died as he lived, caring more about others than himself.”
The selfless heroics of this dauntless Marine rise out of a warriors’ mentality that greets death with a wink and a nod. Such warriors, much like America’s founding fathers, “mutually pledge to each other their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor.” After hugging their family members before deployment, Navy Seals, Army Rangers, and Special Operations Marines embrace the sobering prospect that it may be their final farewell. In brief, they live with the end in view.
Once again, a CBAmerica chaplain publishes a timely book on a relevant topic. Published by Covenant Books on May 6th, 2020, Chaplain Dan Klender’s work can be purchased on Amazon and wherever good books are sold.
For more stories by and about CBAmerica chaplaincies, visit www.cbamerica.org/chaplaincy. To inquire about endorsement for chaplaincy, email Randy Brandt at firstname.lastname@example.org.