Wounded warriors focus of new ministry
    February 11 2010 by Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications

    FORT BRAGG — When Chris Carson served as an infantry battalion chaplain in Iraq he was familiar with less than ideal conditions. He went days without a shower and re-used paper plates. Carson jumped out of airplanes just like the other soldiers. 

    So, just over a year ago when Carson came to work with the Warrior Transition Battalion, a nondeployable unit in the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, he expected life as a chaplain to settle down.

    “Boy, was I wrong,” Carson said during an interview at his Fort Bragg office. The job is definitely not 9-5 and the reality of death and incredibly tough circumstances is as real here as it is overseas.

    As one of two chaplains assigned to the Warrior Transition Battalion, Carson works with about 500 sick and wounded soldiers. Some will heal and return to active duty, but most will be medically discharged. Some soldiers are from the Fort Bragg area but many are not.

    BSC photo

    Chris Carson serves with the Warrior Transition Battalion at Fort Bragg. The Wounded Warriors Ministry is a way N.C. Baptists can help Carson minister to the lives of soldiers who have been injured and their families.

    Because injured soldiers are assigned to a hospital best suited to meet their needs, many with brain/head injuries come to Womack Army Medical Center in Fayetteville. For some that means they are nowhere close to home, family or friends.

    A new outreach is underway that will give North Carolina Baptists the chance to join Carson in ministering to the soldiers of the Warrior Transition Battalion. The vision for the Wounded Warriors Ministry is to help match individuals, as well as local churches, with specific needs of soldiers.

    The ministry is an outreach of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) Office of Military and Chaplaincy Ministries, led by Col. Larry Jones, BSC senior consultant for military and chaplaincy ministry. Jones has been a military chaplain for 29 years. As state chaplain for the North Carolina National Guard he manages chaplains, chaplain candidates and chaplain assistants in the North Carolina Army and Air National Guard.

    Volunteers can contribute in various ways: sitting in a hospital waiting room with a soldier’s family or visiting the soldier in the hospital. They could bring meals to family waiting at the hospital, help with childcare or even visit at home the spouse of a hospitalized solider. Sometimes a spouse needs help with chores around the house while the injured soldier recovers.

    “Anything we can do to help them opens up a door for us to witness,” Jones said.

    Last year Carson started an adopt-a-wounded-soldier ministry.

    Jones is hopeful that churches will consider making Fayetteville a unique kind of mission trip. Church groups would come and spend the week “on call” for the chaplains, ready to serve however needed. Since this may not be the type of mission trip churches are accustomed to, Jones will even help churches with training, such as how to do a hospital visit. A low-cost lodging option is the N.C. Baptist Men Missions Camp facility at Red Springs. 

    Although the Wounded Warriors Ministry is still in the infant stage, several soldiers already have been helped. Carson and Jones are working together to match up the gifts and skills of volunteers with the needs of soldiers.

    “The needs are so complex,” Carson said.

    In addition to ministering to the wounded, Carson preaches every Sunday, leads a weekly Bible study, holds counseling sessions and plans retreats. The chaplains can’t do everything, and more people will be ministered to as a result of the Wounded Warrior Ministry. Carson has no doubt that volunteers will be greatly rewarded through involvement in this ministry.

    Just seeing the look on someone’s face when he comes to visit them in the hospital can be enough to remind him of the importance of this outreach. It doesn’t take much to make a difference. “You can just listen,” he said. “Just be with the soldiers.”

    To learn how your church can get involved in ministering to wounded warriors, or for more information about the Office of Military and Chaplaincy Ministries, e-mail Jones at ljones@ncbaptist.org.   
    2/11/2010 3:08:00 AM by Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications | with 3 comments

Bengie Whisnant
Chris and Larry are two men with big hearts. I know them personally and can vouch for their character and integrity. God's blessings upon this ministry.
2/13/2010 5:14:38 PM

Patty Thomson
I would like to say very proudly that Chris Carson is my son-in-law. This is, I am afraid, a growing mission field, and it will take us all to minister to our "wounded warriors". We must make ourselves aware of the needs and be willing to do what God is whispering in our ear for us to do.
2/12/2010 4:52:30 PM

This is awesome! If we could have more Chris Carson's in this world...
God Bless All our Service Men and Women!!!
2/12/2010 10:43:09 AM

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