In Too Deep

shameDuring Desert Storm, I was a 20 year old PFC. Being out of the United States of America for the very first time and traveling to Saudi Arabia was quite a culture shock for a guy from Panama City, Florida. Having been a Christian about a year and a half, I had no idea that God was calling me into ministry. The deployment was my first of four so far and my shortest, six months. We left in June 1991, and returned in December 1991. That six months was packed with God doing some amazing things within the U.S. Army in a country that was 99% Muslim. Most importantly, an NCO not even in my section befriended me. His name was SGT Gary Lambert. SGT Lambert was then and still is today the most squared away Soldier I have ever met. SGT Lambert took me under his wing and taught me how to be a Christian in the military and to be a professional soldier. Not an easy task! He worked the night shift on the Ammunitions Dock and I worked the day shift. Being all of 175 soldiers strong, we had no Chaplain. Back then, Chaplains were not serving in every Army battalion. They served at higher levels and were on a geographical rotation.

lightofforgivenessSeeing a need for something religious in nature, SGT Lambert and I decided to start Bible studies. He held one in the morning after his shift every week and I held one in the evening. Attendance was greater than 100 soldiers combined. Simply incredible! Working with 9.5 million pounds of ammo in a one mile radius will do that for a group of soldiers. One evening, on my way to chow, a female SSG stopped me to ask about the Bible study. Until this day, everyone knew her as loose and willing “to be” with anyone. I did not judge her or invite her to my living quarters. I simply shared with her what all we were doing in Bible Study. She responded with, “you realize several of the guys I have been with are in your Bible study?” I said, “good, that is a great place for them to be.” As she started to walk away she said, “God could never forgive a person like me because of all I have done. I am in too deep.” I let her know that one of the closest followers of Jesus was a female prostitute. She said that she had heard this before and wondered if he ever slept with her. It may sound silly but it is what came to mind; I told her, “Jesus came as the Son of God creator of the Heavens and the earth. For him to do such a thing would be like a mechanic having sex with the engine he repairs or a carpenter making out with a pile of wood. Why would he want to?” Her MOS was 88M. She started to walk away again and mumbled, “I have never heard it quite that way before.”

As we approached the dining facility she said, “it was good talking with you and I might check out one of the Bible studies.” I told her, “all are welcome.” We went our separate ways and a week later, I heard she was attending SGT Lambert’s Bible study. Little did I know, this would be an early lesson and glimpse into what it is like to practice ministry of presence with soldiers regardless of what they have done. Two months later, I prayed with SGT Lambert who was also a dedicated Deacon at his church back in home in Mobile, Alabama to receive the call into ministry.

forgivenThe above example is just one of many engagements the Lord saw fit to involve me in regarding soldiers and where they are with God. I do not know where you are in your walk with Him, but I do know that God is deeply interested in you and would love to have a lasting relationship with you.

What is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? – Psalm 8:4

What is man, that you make so much of him, and that you set your heart on him? – Job 7:17

God is mindful of you, He cares for you, He thinks highly of you, and He ponders you in His heart! All are welcome.

 

Mijikai Mason
Disclaimer: The thoughts and views published on the Veterans to Christ blog are those of Mijikai Mason and in no way are meant to represent the United States Army or the Armed Forces.

Bio: Mijikai Mason is an Ordained Southern Baptist minister and Chaplain in the United States Army. He has been in the Army for 26 years both as an enlisted Soldier and now as an Officer. He has been stationed at various bases in the United States and in United States Army Garrison Schweinfurt, Germany. He holds an undergraduate degree in Religion from the University of Mobile, a Master of Divinity degree from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary in Theology and Evangelism and a Master of Arts degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Webster University. Chaplain (MAJ) Mijikai Mason was selected by the Army in 2013, to become a Family Life Chaplain and began his service in this field starting 15 May 2015. He is the Deputy ESC Chaplain and Family Life Chaplain for the 593 Expeditionary Support Command at Joint Base Lewis McCord. He has deployed four times: Desert Storm (1991), Iraq twice (2005-2006; 2007-2008), and Afghanistan (2012-2013). He has a total of 42 months deployed in combat and logistics operations. Mijikai and his wife, Ashley, have been married for 17 years this May and live near Joint Base Lewis McChord, Washington with their four daughters.