HARANA, Afghanistan—Little things make a house a home. And for military personnel serving overseas, it’s little things that remind them of home—a greeting card from family, a good book or a movie to help them unwind after a 16-hour shift.
Troops of the 62nd Engineer Combat Battalion can find many of these comforts thanks to Chaplain Everett Zachary, who runs an informal general store where military personnel can pick up greeting cards to send home or check out books and movies for free.
“By providing some of these items, I see soldiers I would not normally see in my office,” he said. “It makes my office a central hub in our unit, which works to create a comfortable feeling towards the religious support team. I believe it also breaks down the barrier of looking weak should they need to see me for serious counseling. As there are a number of reasons one might come into my office, there is less likelihood of speculation as to the well being of the soldier.”
By having a regular flow of people through his office who are looking for movies and books, Zachary is able to get to know more soldiers. Often, the more he sees them, the deeper the relationship becomes. If a situation arises where they need spiritual or emotional help, the Baptist General Convention of Texas-endorsed chaplain is there for them.
“Every encounter is not a great evangelistic moment, but it’s all about a ministry of presence,” he said. “My soldiers know that their chaplain is concerned about more than just whether or not they are saved. I want to know if they are having some down time with a good movie or book.”
But Zachary’s library is limited. He doesn’t have enough movies to meet demand. The BGCT is encouraging congregations to support the chaplain’s ministry by sending him additional movies. Any digital video disc will be appreciated, Zachary said, but cartoons, comedies, action and western movies are the most popular. He tries to keep the selection positive and upbeat to help the troops.
“I walk shoulder to shoulder with American sons and daughters who have given up their lives to help a foreign country find some stabilization,” Zachary said. “Most of the time, it’s not very fun. Sometimes it’s downright discouraging. So, if I can provide a couple hours of sanity or temporary relief through a movie or a good book, I think I’ve done something to contribute to the health of my soldiers. It’s kind of like preventive medicine. I’m helping them get a little down time up front to keep from seeing them later with some serious anger management or depression issues.”
For more information about how to send videos or other supplies to the chaplain, call the BGCT at (888) 244-9400.