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By Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Tim Sturgill

For more information about the FWB Home Missions Department (now North American Ministries), please visit

ONE OF THE SADDEST PASSAGES of Scripture comes from Psalm 137. “By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept when we remembered Zion. We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof. For there they that carried us away captive asked of us a song, and they that wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion! How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?” (Psalm 137:1-3)

I came late to the current conflict along the rivers of Babylon. Reassignments and missed rotation cycles kept me from deploying to Operation Iraqi Freedom. When the opportunity arose, I volunteered to fill the vacancy created by a chaplain unable to deploy.

I prepared for departure, spent quality time with family and friends, and prepared myself emotionally. Spiritually, the Lord spoke very plainly to me one Sunday during the praise and worship time at church. The message was, “Tim, I’m sending you there to do my work. Many chaplains have already gone before you, and now it is your time to go ‘sing the songs of Zion by the rivers of Babylon.’” I can’t remember the last time I was so excited about deploying.

On the heels of excitement, the adversary often brings fear and dread. After all, I was going to Baghdad, one of the most dangerous locations in the world—a place where American lives are still being lost daily. Again, the Lord spoke as clearly as I’ve ever heard Him. This time His message came to me alliterated. The message was: “Tim, you will proceed in the power of the Father, the peace of Jesus Christ, under the protection of the Holy Spirit, and upheld by the prayers of my people.” I had nothing left to do but go. On May 16, 2006, I landed in Baghdad wearing my battle-rattle.

Ministry in Iraq has proven to be what I expected—and have experienced on other deployments—long days, dust and dirt, few creature comforts, yet the absolute best ministry in the world.

I have one other chaplain working for me along with two chaplain assistants. We run a full program with five worship services each weekend, Bible studies every day, and devotions and prayer with security forces three times a day.  We always pray for the Lord to defend the defender. We also counsel soldiers daily about fears, anxieties, and problems with families back home.

During my first week of deployment, a troop walked into the chapel with questions about Christianity. Within 15 minutes he prayed the sinner’s prayer and accepted Jesus Christ as his personal savior. Somewhere the seed had been planted and watered; we had the privilege of harvest. We not only get to sing by the rivers of Babylon, but we have the honor of baptizing a new believer…combat style.

The toughest part of my job is the Patriot Detail. When a troop is killed in action, our mortuary prepares the remains for transfer home. We gather at the plane for a brief Scripture reading and prayer along with a reading of the names. Sometimes the only attendees are the first sergeant, the aircrew, and myself. At other times, we have more than 200 troops who form a line on both sides of the plane and salute as the fallen comrade is carried between them to the plane. It is a solemn moment characterized by simplicity, dignity, and honor.

With the exception of being with my family, there is no other place on earth I’d rather be than by the rivers of Babylon, singing songs of praise to the Almighty God who rescued me from captivity through Jesus Christ. I appreciate the privilege of participating in this unique ministry for the Lord.

Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Tim Sturgill has represented the Free Will Baptist denomination as chaplain for almost twenty years.


Congratulations…Order of the Day!

The Home Missions Department would like to offer congratulations to Chaplain Terry Austin of Ft. Meade, MD (left) for his recent promotion to Lieutenant Colonel and to Chaplain Steven Simpson, Lawton, OK, (right) for receiving a promotion to Major. Both chaplains represent the Free Will Baptist denomination with excellence in the United States Army.








©2005 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists