Going Back to Iraq
I am currently in Fort Bliss, which is in Texas, however, I am in the outskirts of Fort Bliss in New Mexico. We are doing Pre-Deployment training. The unit I am with is deploying to Iraq. Just as a refresher: in May I graduated from seminary with a master's degree in divinity and upon my graduation I was commissioned as a chaplain in the Texas National Guard. Upon my graduation I went to "Chaplain's Officers Basic Training" in Fort Jackson, South Carolina. Upon my graduation from that (after three months) I went to Austin (Bastrop really) for "Pre-Mobilization" training. Now I am on "title ten" orders which means I am "federalized" or on active duty. We are making our final preparations. We are heading out to Kuwait at the beginning of December. The plan right now is for us to go back to Baghdad near the area in which I served in 2003 and 2004. PRAYER REQUESTS: Please pray for the Christians of Iraq. Pray that I would be an effective chaplain. Pray that my soldiers will be kept safe. Pray for our soldiers in Afghanistan. There is a remote possibility that we may be sent at the last minute to Afghanistan instead of Iraq. Please pray that we are not sent to Afghanistan.
I purchased Robert Spencer's "The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades)" which is an excellent book. In it he spends several pages discussing the Aramaic Christians and how they are and have been persecuted by Muslims. He mentions them by the name "Assyrian" and speaks of the "Assyrian Church of the East." Robert Spencer is one of the best writers on Islam today. I strongly recommend all of his books.
There is an interesting program on the Aramaic Saint Thomas Christians of India. See "Ancient Christians in India" the "Religion and Ethics Program of PBS"
Agnes and Margaret Smith discovered an important Syriac-Aramaic manuscript of the New Testament at Mount Sinai during the 1800s. A new book by Janet Soskice entitled "The Sisters of Sinai: How Two Lady Adventurers Discovered the Hidden Gospels" has recently been published. Also of interest is the Greek Codex Siniaticus which was also discovered at Mount Sinai. I have seen (and read from) the Codex Siniaticus at the British Museum. This manuscript was probably one of the Bibles commissioned by Emperor Constantine around 325 AD. Most of the Codex is at the British Museum other parts are kept at Mount Sinai. Recently, the complete text has been "reunited" in an on-line edition. See the official site of Codex Siniaticus online.
Even though I am deployed I am going to try to keep publishing the "Aramaic Herald." However, the newsletter is going to go from being 8 pages to being only 2 due to the fact that I will be busy ministering to soldiers.