When I was a sophomore in college, the pastor at my home church resigned his call and left the ministry. I didn’t understand why. It didn’t make sense. I was devastated. If I couldn’t trust him with his personal life, how could I trust him with matters of faith? If he lied about this, had he lied about the Gospel? I struggled. A lot. For months.
But in the midst of the confusion and the doubt, the Lord put another pastor in my midst: Rev. Michael Frese. He was the shepherd of a church in a neighboring town in Wisconsin, and despite the busyness of parish life and caring for his family, he made sure I was in church, that I was hearing the Gospel, that I didn’t fall away because things didn’t make sense.
He’s still a pastor, and he’s still making order out of chaos. But now, instead of serving Packers fans and farmers, college kids and lifelong Lutherans, he’s serving as an Army chaplain in Afghanistan.
And he’s not just any kind of chaplain; he’s an LCMS chaplain. He’s the kind of chaplain that, upon arriving on base, immediately set to work locating boards and nails to make an altar and a pulpit, to put a tangible sign of God’s presence in front of and for brave but broken warriors.
He’s the kind of chaplain that delights in bringing Jesus right into the midst of all the chaos, death, suffering; the kind that prays Matins and Vespers and brings the Holy Communion to men in desolate mountains and on sandy plains; the kind that listens quietly as America’s toughest and strongest worry over their families, their futures, their actions; the kind that reminds them again and again of Christ, of the peace that passes all understanding.
Chaplain Frese isn’t counseling college kids anymore. He’s not eating Wisconsin cheese curds and checking in with the Ladies Aid. But he is bringing Christ right into the fray, into some of the darkest situations man will ever see, into right where the Gospel is needed most.
So pray for him and for all the Synod’s chaplains, yes, for all Her pastors, for those men who have been placed just where they should be, amongst cheeseheads and Afghans, to do the Lord’s good work.