The location and ministry of military chaplains are often shrouded in secrecy. As a result, I am sometimes surprised by their location and ministry activity. From somewhere in the Pacific Ocean, I received a ministry report from Navy Chaplain Aaron Carlton, assigned to a large amphibious task force steaming to a volatile part of the world.
Chaplain Carlton writes:
“One of the great blessings that I am thankful for as we start our deployment is the quality of fellow chaplains we have on board. We all seem to get along well and I think each is open to listening to each other and truly doing the best. Also, we are all open to personal growth and accountability. This is not as common in the chaplaincy as one would hope. So this is a blessing.
A second blessing is that our church on board this ship is rocking and rolling, literally and figuratively. We have had packed services each weekend and are considering adding another Christian worship service.”
Please pray for: My family (wife, Lily and 3 young daughters, Mayah, Noelle & Sophia) and their emotional and spiritual health during this time. The safety and protection of all the Sailors and Marines on board the 3-ship group. Especially as we will be in the Middle East during a season of political change at home and international turmoil abroad.
Ministry Activities: Worship Services: 13, One-On-One Visits: 158, Bible Studies: 15, Other small groups: 3, Outreach: First Time Decisions: 3, Rededications: 18, Baptisms: 1”
I asked Chaplain Carlton to tell me about the ship’s “Evening Prayer.” The evening prayer over the ship’s intercom is one of the enduring US Naval traditions. It is also one that is still being fought against, by anti-religion groups like the Freedom From Religion Foundation.
“Good evening, friends. This is Chaplain Carlton. Think of the wisest person you know. I would venture to guess that they are also the most humble. If we would aspire to greater wisdom in our work, in relationships, in life, one of the best ways to get there is to pursue genuine humility.
Genuine humility listens to others’ perspectives and treats each person with elevated dignity and respect. Instead of just looking at another’s flaws, we become honest and aware of our own shortcomings. Instead of demanding respect, we earn it by showing it to others.
Pride and ego elevates the self at the expense of others, humility gets low and lifts others up. On the path to becoming wise, let us learn to be humble.”
“Living God, help us to not think more highly of ourselves than we ought, but in sober judgment, let us put others first. Help us to see correctly our own weakness, before we see the faults in others. In Your Name, Amen.”
“Good evening, friends. This is Chaplain Carlton. As we end our day, I would invite you to consider the power of our words… have you ever been around someone who was negative all the time? At best it is unpleasant, at worst, it is destructive to the morale and well-being of those around us. Have you ever been around someone who was positive and uplifting? Which one are you? With our mouths we bless or we curse, we provide hope or we extinguish it, we uplift or we tear down. Often times we do both within a matter of minutes… tonight as we close the day, let us be resolved to choose our words wisely and in doing so give life and strength to those who hear us.”
“Living God, refresh those who refresh others. Replenish the inner storeroom of their souls. And grant us all wisdom in our words and in our deeds. In Your name we pray, Amen.”
“Good evening, friends. This is Chaplain Carlton. Moses once prayed, ‘Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.’ One pathway to a wise life is a healthy perspective of each day that we are given on this earth. Each day is a gift. Let us receive each moment then with thankfulness and resolve to do as much good upon this earth as we can, while we can, for as long as we can. If you are here today, you are here for just that reason.”
“Living God, help us to take nothing for granted. Each day we are here is an opportunity to use our time wisely and to make a difference. Each moment is a chance for us to improve our souls, to right our wrongs, and to make the world a better place by exerting our influence.
For this ship, for each aircraft and landing craft, for every soul on board, grant us an extra measure of your unseen protection and care as we learn to number our days.”
Chaplain Aaron Carlton, USN (Deployed)
Chaplain Andy concludes: Please join me in praying for the health, safety, and success of Chaplain Carlton and his task force. Thank God for his obvious hand working while “under way.”
Photo Caption: Chaplain Aaron Carlton on the far right with Aviation Supply Officer, in blue. Aviation Maintenance Division Officer in white. And a supply tech rep… we’re all on the flight deck somewhere in the south pacific.
For those churches and individuals interested in supporting the ministry of this chaplain team, Care Packages can be sent per the following guidelines to the address below:
Care Packages, absolutely we will accept… some standard that are always good are:
– ATT Calling Cards
– Nuts/trail mix
– Cup of Noodles/ramen
– Crossword books/Sudoku books
– Dried fruit
– Cards/UNO/Card games
– Blank birthday/Christmas/greeting cards
Some things that really won’t work in shipping to us on board the ship:
– NO Liquids
– NO Wipes
– NO gum
– NO soap
USS MAKIN ISLAND (LHD 8)
Unit 100222 Box 802
FPO AP 96672