ALPHARETTA, Ga. — At least 200 Southern Baptist Convention (SBC)-endorsed military chaplains will be pleasantly surprised with a box of Christmas goodies by Dec. 25.
Chaplains in Iraq and Afghanistan will receive boxes of candy, instant coffee and hot chocolate, powdered soft drinks, snacks, CDs, books and magazines, toiletries, batteries, pre-paid phone cards, socks, boot laces, sunglasses and even small Christmas trees and other Christmas decorations.
Some 100 North American Mission Board (NAMB) employees and members of several Atlanta-area Baptist churches collected and boxed the items as a "symbol of love" for the chaplains, said Keith Travis, team leader of NAMB's chaplaincy evangelism team in Alpharetta, Ga.
Travis initiated the project because he "felt like we needed to do something to let the chaplains know we're thinking of them at the holidays because the chaplains in Iraq and Afghanistan are doing such a great job over there. Other than this, all we can do for them is pray.
"These chaplains are serving on the front lines as pastors for our soldiers, airmen, sailors and marines," Travis said. "They're baptizing our men and women over there, and using a lot of ingenuity to share the gospel in various ways. They're making a difference and changing lives. It's a miracle to see."
Slightly more than 1,000 SBC-endorsed military chaplains serve in military branches around the world. At any given time, about 75 are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Other chaplains, whose locations remain secret, are serving with special operations forces and Army Rangers.
The Christmas boxes were assembled by NAMB staff and members of several Atlanta-area churches — including First Baptist Church of Alpharetta, First Baptist Church of Winder, and Travis' own church, First Baptist Church of Holly Springs — and then were shipped by the U.S. Post Office.
The Post Office offers special shipping boxes and reduced rates for the military. Available to anyone, the boxes hold up to 50 pounds and cost a flat rate of around $10 regardless of actual weight shipped.
(EDITOR’S NOTE — Noah is a writer with NAMB. If you would like to send a gift box to a chaplain at Christmas or any time of the year, e-mail [email protected] for more information.)