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2009 Conversations


Sara Groves
12.21.08

Keith and Kristyn Getty
12.14.08

Jesse Miranda
11.30.08

Heather Bland
11.23.08

Cathleen Lewis
11.16.08

Robert Leathers
11.9.08

Ravi Zacharias
10.26.08

Scotty Gibbons
10.19.08

George O. Wood
9.28.08

George O. Wood
9.21.08

G. Robert Cook Jr.
9.14.08

Michelle LaRowe Conover
8.31.08

Janet Boynes
8.24.08

Kirk Cameron
8.17.08

Laura Wilkinson
8.10.08

Melody Rossi
7.27.08

Randy Travis
7.20.08

Maylo Upton-Aames
7.13.08

Chuck Norris
6.29.08

Francis Xavier 'Chip' Flaherty Jr.
6.22.08

Ben Carson
6.15.08

Robert H. Spence
6.8.08

Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Schloesser
5.25.08

R. Albert Mohler Jr.
5.18.08

James K. Bridges
5.11.08

Manny Mill
4.27.08

Brock Gill
4.20.08

Robert Burt
4.13.08

Gerry Hindy
3.30.08

J.I. Packer
3.23.08

Stanley Horton
3.16.08

Linda Mintle
3.9.08

Joanna Weaver
2.24.08

Buck Taylor
2.17.08

Debra Risner
2.10.08

Bill Glass
1.27.08

Edward Gilbreath
1.20.08

Rob Seagears and Andy Casper
1.13.08


2007 Conversations


2006 Conversations


Conversation: Robert Leathers

Ministry at the world’s busiest trauma center

Chaplain Robert Leathers serves on the chaplaincy staff at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. He has been an active duty Army chaplain since 1993. He talked recently with Scott Harrup, senior associate editor, about his service in Iraq.

tpe: How did you become a chaplain?

LEATHERS: When I was 18, I sensed God’s call to ministry while I was attending Dexter AG in Dexter, Mo. I went to Central Bible College and then Assemblies of God Theological Seminary to prepare. I learned about the military chaplaincy at seminary.

At that time, I had not even heard of military chaplains even though I had grown up in a military family. My dad was a Ranger instructor at Fort Benning, Ga. Dad did not go to church most of the years I was growing up. Fortunately, Dad came to Christ a couple of years before he died. I was 12 when we lost him. The chaplaincy allowed me to fulfill my dream of serving in the military while answering God’s call to ministry.

tpe: You served two tours in Iraq. What were your assignments?

LEATHERS: I spent six months in the field my first deployment and a year in hospital chaplaincy in Baghdad my second. The thing about hospital ministry I love so much is that lives change. When people come into that environment, nobody leaves it the same.

I spent the year at Ibn Sina Hospital in the Green Zone. We would get rocketed, mortared and come under small-arms fire. Baghdad always makes me struggle for words to describe it. It’s war. It’s the death of innocence. It’s the best worst time you’ll ever have.

tpe: Could you talk more about that?

LEATHERS: Just to give you an idea of the carnage, trauma centers are measured by how much blood they transfuse. The average large hospital in the U.S. will transfuse about 40 units of blood a month. We averaged 1,600 units a month in Baghdad. Baghdad is still the busiest trauma hospital in the world.

From the time a patient comes in, we’re at the head of the bed with them. When they leave on a medevac flight to Germany or Balad Airbase in northern Iraq, or whether we assist in putting them in body bags and sending them home on angel flights, it’s very emotional. We also do services on Sunday and Bible studies. These are constantly interrupted by helicopters coming in, so plans are not really plans, they’re just ideas to pursue.

tpe: What would you say to people to encourage prayer for our chaplains?

LEATHERS: Growing up in church, I would hear people talk about “feeling” the prayers of others. I never knew what that was about, and I’m not sure I even believed that — until I got to Baghdad. I can honestly tell you there were times I felt like the Lord was carrying me. I knew people were praying for me. I sensed I was surrounded by the Holy Spirit and that He was telling me He was caring for me.

tpe: How did you see the support of people back home make a difference in soldiers’ lives?

LEATHERS: We had churches that sent quilts for wounded soldiers. I remember some soldiers soiling their quilt with their blood, and they didn’t want the nurse to take it and clean it.

Sometimes the little things you do that you might not think would amount to a lot — a simple prayer, a little card — go a long way. The Lord can take a little and do much with it. There were times I thought I’d give up, and I’d get a letter from someone offering simple encouragement. That would keep me going.

You hear a lot about Iraq and Afghanistan and the challenges there. Our chaplains are doing a fantastic job, but they need your prayer and support.

E-mail your comments to tpe@ag.org.

 

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