News from Afghanistan
During the month of December 2011, Fr. Christopher Allen, a priest of the Diocese of Chicago and Mid-America who is also a Lieutenant in the Navy Chaplain Corps currently serving with the Marines on Okinawa, traveled to Afghanistan to provide the Holy Mysteries to US and Coalition Orthodox military and civilian personnel. He traveled with his assistant, Religious Program Specialist 2nd Class, Jimmy Todd. "RP's," as they are called, are the sailors who act as assistants and bodyguards to the military chaplains.
When Fr. Christopher arrived in Afghanistan, Fr. Jerome Cwiklinski (OCA), a Navy Captain and the senior Orthodox priest in the Navy Chaplain Corps, was just finishing several weeks there. He and Fr. Christopher con-celebrated Divine Liturgy on the Sunday when their time overlapped.
In addition to providing specifically for the needs of Orthodox troops, Fr. Christopher also assisted the long-term chaplain staff by visiting the wounded, taking the watch as the Duty Chaplain, and providing a general ministry of counseling and presence. He also served a Moleben of Thanksgiving with special petitions for healing and protection for the assembled Coalition Forces Chaplains (US, British and Danish) at their weekly meeting. For many, it was their first experience of any form of Orthodox worship. Others told Fr. Christopher it brought back warm and joyful memories of attending Orthodox services back home while they were visiting close Orthodox friends.
Throughout his month-long tour there, Fr. Christopher continually met members of the Coalition Forces who had a great interest in Holy Orthodoxy. He is grateful for the Lord's merciful protection of himself, his assistant and all his colleagues. Please remember in your prayers the safety of our troops and those of our allies and people of good will in Afghanistan.