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Spiritually supporting those in the military

For the past two years, Our Savior, San Antonio, Texas, has been offering monthly worship services at JSBA-Lackland, the site of all basic training for United States Air Force recruits. Providing worship in Word and sacrament on base offers that important opportunity for fellowship, spiritual support, and encouragement—especially since recruits can’t leave the base during basic training to attend worship at a local congregation.

“Prior to these official worship services, I had fostered an informal relationship with the chaplain’s office and had been able to provide a devotion and the Lord’s Supper to WELS basic trainees on an ad hoc basis,” says David Kasischke, a staff minister at Our Savior. With that groundwork laid and because of WELS’ distinctive religious beliefs, a few years ago the chaplain’s office invited the church to offer worship on base.

“If anyone has a child who has enlisted in the U.S. Air Force, Our Savior can serve his or her spiritual needs during that often lonely and stressful time,” says Kasischke.

He continues, “This past service in February, one of the attendees was a WELS member, who admittedly was an infrequent participant in worship in recent years. After our service, I spoke with him, and it was clear that the Holy Spirit was active—one of the Scripture readings had especially resonated with him and convicted him. He confessed his lack of attention to worship, we talked a little further, and I was able to give him the Lord’s Supper and the reassurance that Jesus has forgiven him. He left refreshed and recommitted to worship.”

These services not only can spiritually uplift WELS members but also bring the gospel message to others. “These services bring in people from all walks of faith life—unbelievers, doubters, curiosity-seekers, people who identify as Christian but really know very little about their faith as well as Lutherans from other synods and members of other Christian denominations,” Kasischke says. “Some are curious about what an ‘evangelical Lutheran’ service looks like, and some are attending because they are ‘wingmen’—the escort that is required because basic trainees do not go anywhere unaccompanied.”

Kasischke takes time to explain the order of service for those who are new to Lutheranism. “I also leave time for questions after the service—about the worship itself or faith in general,” he says. “I have found the questions are thoughtful and heartfelt.”

WELS Military Services has military contact pastors around the country to offer spiritual support to WELS members in the military. Service members should sign up at wels.net/refer to be put in contact with the nearest WELS church and pastor.

Learn more about WELS Military Services at wels.net/military.

Author: FIC
Volume: 111, Number 04
Issue: April 2024

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