News: Finding the 'Rally Point'
BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan – The 101st Sustainment Brigade’s Lifeliner Lounge – also known as the L3- is a place where the soldiers can relax from the daily rigors of life in a combat zone and play the latest video games on Xbox, shoot pool, watch movies, and even do their laundry.
Add a place to worship to the list.
The Brigade’s Unit Ministry Team officially began church services there in the small theater this past weekend when they hosted their inaugural “Rally Point” Worship Service. The worship service and its daily fellowship get-togethers are intended to give the brigade and its attached units a place where the soldiers can re-charge themselves spiritually during their time away from their family.
More than 20 soldiers attended Sunday’s service, which featured music and communion. Capt. Jason Lim said he felt a “renewed vigor” six months into his deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, thanks not only to his faith in God, but through the daily morning devotions and fellowships with Christian soldiers.
“Before I started going to the devotions, I went through this daily drag, waking up and feeling the misery of doing the same thing over and over again,” the Brigade Support Operations Air Movement officer in charge said. “Now, I have this renewed energy to get through the day, especially knowing that you have brothers and sisters there for you.”
Brigade Chaplain (Maj.) Tammie Crews said the name “Rally Point” came from several soldiers who frequently meet for devotionals and fellowship. “In a military sense, it’s the place where you go to get all of your resources together just before the charge. Here is not where the final result or answer is, but it’s that starting point, I think,” she said.
“This is different than just going down to Enduring Faith Chapel on Bagram because it’s our own people. For those who come, it’s about ownership; it’s kind of birthed itself step by step. It’s also for the other battalions attached to brigade here. We want them to know that they have a place where they belong.”
Crews said the idea for the service originated when the Lifeliners first arrived back in theater in November 2010, when she and several soldiers conducted an impromptu prayer session. One of the soldiers involved in that session was Sgt. Linda Pierre, who was killed along with six other fellow soldiers during a suicide bombing this past April at Forward Operating Base Gamberi.
“It makes me tear up a bit when I remember her being there,” Crews said.
Another soldier involved in the prayer, Sgt. 1st Class Jeff Vanderyt, attends the morning devotionals and Bible studies the UMT offers. He invited Lim to attend a devotional two months ago, and in turn, Lim invited his fellow soldiers.
“The morning I went, he [Vanderyt] wasn’t there,” Lim said. “But it was cool. We had a great discussion. It felt like one of those rolling snowballs going down a hill. It just kept getting bigger and bigger.”
Lim said the growth continues as they send the message of unity through faith. “God is working in us and God is here. He continues to work, as this group has grown from four to 15. We meet every morning, we have Bible study, and now Sunday service.”
Vanderyt, a force protection noncommissioned officer, said the services goes a lot deeper to the core issue of what soldiers deal with during consistent deployments and constant separation from families.
“The fellowship is a place where this becomes our extended family. We can re-connect with one another and share in each other’s successes, our failures and our hopes,” he said.
Vanderyt said he had hoped for fellowship with fellow Christian soldiers while deployed to Afghanistan, and credits 101st Special Troops Battalion Chaplain (Capt.) Vincent Hardy for playing a key role in the development of the Rally Point.
“I didn’t have any expectations about what it would turn into or where it would go, but it’s amazing that it did turn this way,” he said. “He [Hardy] started something that we were able to continue. He had an amazing way with the soldiers inasfar as connecting with them. He was the spark to where we’re at now.”
Crews said the “Rally Point” concept goes beyond just on the ground in Afghanistan. She said the hope is that it becomes part of the brigade chapel back at Fort Campbell.
“It’s all part of the big picture, getting people to work through their faith in different mediums and different levels, whether it’s a more formal worship or the morning devotions. It’s part of the Army’s spiritual resiliency piece; it’s something that’s real for our soldiers and that they understand that they have real ownership in it,” she said.
Date Posted:06.06.2011 02:53
Location:BAGRAM AIR FIELD, AF
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