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CHAPLAINS CORP: Bearing My Cross (Anglican Persecution)

AS EYE SEE IT: Bearing My Cross

By SPC Nelson Chase

Thanks be to thee, O Lord Jesus Christ, for all the cruel pains and
insults thou hast borne for me; for all the many blessings thou hast won
for me. St. Richard of Chichester. This simple sentence before I was
called to active duty in February of 2003 never really meant too much to
me. I had prayed this pray by St. Richard many times before but it never
really sank into me. I at the time was living a great life. I had a nice
house, good friends, and great family, went to mass twice a week and had
a great relationship with our Lord. Things were going well for me. I had
many blessing in my life. School was going well. Just fixed up my truck,
then my life would take a turn that would change it forever. It would
test me and my faith in our Lord every day and every second.

On a Tuesday morning in February I received a phone call from my friend
James Giddens, a Presbyterian minister and the commanding officer of my
Army Reserve unit, the 105th Chaplain Detachment. He informed me that we
were being called to active duty to support Operation Enduring freedom,
which later on became Operation Iraqi freedom. I was floored. I had
never seen this coming. In a blink of an eye I was being sent overseas
to a country, to a region of the world were most of the people were
anti-American and anti Christian. At that time I knew that my faith
would be challenged but what I did not know is by whom. I would have
never thought that an American Army office would be my biggest challenge
of my deployment.

I was assigned to Camp Wolf Kuwait on March 22, 2003. At that time we
were the only chaplain and chaplain assistant working out of the post
chapel. We had it relatively good at Camp Wolf. We had our own chapel
tent which we built a nice living space in the back. The work was great.
We had another great chaplain there, the Rev Anthony Medeiros, a
Catholic Priest who allowed me to take communion at his mass because
there was no Anglican minister at Camp Wolf. Things were great, time was
flying by and the work was well. Baghdad fell on April 21st, or around
that time frame, and we were all happy. My Chaplain and I had expressed
that we could use a little help running the Chapel at Camp Wolf. So
Major Linn was assigned to Camp wolf to be an extra chaplain to assist
my chaplain. She was an Episcopal priest and right off the bat wanted
things to be her way or no way. I realized that there might be problems.

I had never ever dealt with a women priest before. Being against female
ordination to the Holy Priesthood I had a felling that we would not get
along. I expressed my concern to Fr. Neske, an Episcopal Priest who was
at Camp Doha, Kuwait and had been my chaplain when I was in Basic
Training. I really loved Fr. Neske; he was a good Priest and a good
friend. He told me that he had dealt with this chaplain before and that
I was in for a battle. He said that most Episcopal Chaplains in the Army
knew her and did not agree with her or her Theology.

The first Sunday she was a Camp Wolf I decided I would go to here
service which she did not call mass, because she did not want to be to
Roman. I went to the service and felt very uncomfortable and it did
not feel like I was at home with God. I can remember the first time I
walked in to my home parish, Christ the King and instantly felt at home
with God. Her service ended and she asked me why I did not take
communion from her. I told her I did not because I felt that it was
against my faith in God and his Church as I understand it be to take
communion from her. She was not impressed. This started a battle, not an
open one that really anyone could see but one on the spiritual side.

At that time I had just started a Prayer group. I called it St. Andrews
Episcopal/Anglican Prayer group. When she say this she quickly informed
me that she was taking this over and that it would only be called on
flyers Evening Prayer service. She changed the times I had and demanded
that we use Rite II for the service. I being only and E-4 just nodded my
head and said yes. So she took over.

On day we all went to Camp Doha, which was 45 minuets away from Camp
Wolf. So we went. I went to mass with Fr. Neske; he would do a mass for
him and me every time I would go to Doha, which was not very often. So
when we were done my chaplain and chaplain Linda came into the chapel.
All the Chaplains talked. We had also gone to Doha to try to get a T.V.
for our chapel so we could offer a movie night for soldiers. Once the
Chaplains talked we left for Camp Wolf. Then Major Linn started in front
of me, whom just came from mass, to insult Fr. Neske. Calling him names,
saying he is too conservative. I was floored. I almost burst into tears
at this. I knew and respected this Priest and yet she was insulting him
in front of me. I bit my tongue and did not say anything.

When we returned to Camp Wolf, I went to Catholic mass the next morning.
After the mass she came up to me and said, How dare you take communion
from a Catholic Priest, you are not a good Anglican. You have committed
a great offence against the Church. I remember those words they still
hurt to this day. I quickly left and went to my room and prayed. I asked
God why this was happing to me. What did I do to deserve this type of
treatment? So I wrote my parish priest Fr. Acker with my troubles. Fr.
Acker told me that to keep faith and to bear my cross for Christ. So I
decided I would press on and not loss faith.

Next came the insulting of not a Priest but of a Bishop. She for just
some reason one day started to blast, the Rt. Rev. Icker, bishop of Ft.
Worth. Another slap in the face. Being an Anglocatholic bishop, as he
is, I respected him and had met him and heard him speak at a Festival of
Faith, at St. Michaels by the sea in Carlsbad, California. This was just
unacceptable to me.

I went to the boss of all chaplains in Kuwait and said this is got to
stop. That it was killing me spiritually. So he said he would talk to
her. Which he did, she didnt stop. She got angrier and came after me
with vengeance.

One day while praying the Rosary she came in and yelled SPC Chase I did
not know you prayed the rosary. I said yes, and may I please continue
to pray. She just laughed. Things got worse and worse. She asked me why
I wanted to be a Priest. When I told her, she laughed and said you will
never get past our standing committee.

I prayed that night for strength. I came to a realization that God
wanted me to be tested like this, that it was in his plans for me and
that I will bear my cross just as St. Paul, St. Peter, St. Stephen, all
the martyrs who died for there faith. I to would bear witness to Christ
by my being kind to her and showing her that her revisionist theology
would not stop me from believing in the Gospel of Christ.

One day all the Chaplains from Camp Wolf went to Camp Arifjan for a
weekly meeting of all the chaplains in Kuwait. I was ridding up front
talking to the Catholic Priest, and we were talking about the
differences between Roman Catholicism and Anglicanism, more specifically
the Anglocatholic view. Maj. Linda yelled out, Why are you talking bad
about us Anglo Catholics. I and the Priest looked at each other and I
wanted to burst out and say you are not Anglocatholic, but I didnt I
bit my tongue, but she knew that it bugged me and smiled. Later on that
day the Priest talked to her and said that she was badgering me and
should keep her opinions to herself, at least when I was around.

At this time it was just after General Convention. She was against the
election of Gene Robinson, or so she says, but thought us who she
called, the conservatives were too uptight and we should just move on.
She told me Just because he is sinning doesnt mean we should leave.
Of course she was some one who once told me she was anglocatholic
because she loved the incense. I continued to go to Catholic Mass and I
prayed every night. She continued and continued. But I was now just
blocking her out. It was not important to me anymore. I had my gospel
and it was comforting to me to know that Christ was with me. It was St.
Anthony of Padua who said, Christians must lean on the Cross of Christ
just as travelers lean on a staff when they begin a long journey. They
must have the Passion of Christ deeply imbedded in their minds and
hearts, because only from it can they derive peace, grace, and truth. I
started to lean on the Cross and things got better for me. The Army gave
me two weeks leave time.

I left for a trip to Israel in September. It was a wonderful two weeks
away from the dust and grim of Kuwait. There I discovered new parts of
me and my faith grew. I came back a better Anglican and a better
Christian. The best part is my problems with the female chaplain started
to go away. She backed off me, much to my surprise. Then I was informed
of my transfer to Saudi Arabia. My long ordeal was finally over or was it.

My boss left before I did. I was having some issues with a visa to get
into Saudi Arabia. Right after he left and after two months of rather
peace and quiet she came back after me. Accused me of stealing her keys
to the office, which she later found in her pocket. It was horrible.
This time it was not my faith she attacked. It was me and everything I
did. From the way I cleaned the chapel to the way I chewed my gum. Every
possible thing she could find fault with she would attack me. Finally I
left for Saudi Arabia, and ever since me faith has been strong, life has
been good and I can practice the faith delivered to the Saints here at
Eskan Village without having to worry about being told I am wrong and I
should conform to the apostate standards that seem to be taking over our
once beloved Church. This ordeal just strengthened my belief in the
Church Catholic and that Christ did intend only on an all male
Priesthood. Any doubts that I had up to then we gone, nothing well ever
change my mind. The Gospel is God speaking to us now and it does not
change because of were and what we do in our lives.

Finally I began to understand St. Richardss prayer. I thank Christ for
all the insults and pain he suffered for me, and I know now that he has
blessed me with this struggle that has changed me and made me a stronger
Christian. Thanks be to God who guides me in everything I do. May he
keep us all in his eternal love and protection! Amen!


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