How Could War be Explained to Your Children?

Mar 26, 2003 03:16 PM EST

LOUISVILLE, Ky.— U.S. Air Force chaplain speaks frankly about the military chaplaincy on national television, March 19. Andrew Thornley of the McGuire Air Force Base appeared on the American Broadcasting Channel’s “Good Morning America” before host Charles Gibson and a panel of children who’s parents have been deployed. The show served to discuss how parents could tell their children about the war.

"It's a difficult time on military families in general, but the military chaplaincy is ready for this. We are reaching out to the families. We do a lot of counseling,” said Thornely.

Among the questions asked by the children was, “Why do we have to go to war?’ Thornley replied to 7 year old Cynthia Bensberg, "Cynthia, that's a great question, and I'd ask a question to you. Wouldn't it be great to live in a world where everybody got along, everybody was nice to each other, everybody told the truth and nobody wanted to hurt anybody else?

"That would be a great place to live, wouldn't it? Unfortunately, our world's not like that yet. We live in a place where there are bad people who do bad things, and nobody wants to go to war. But sometimes we have to do that."

When Emily Lucas asked how to make the time go by faster while her dad is serving in Iraq, Thornley encouraged her to pray. "If I were you," he said, "I would just try my best to go about life as normally as possible. Think about your dad. Pray for your dad. Realize he's over there doing this for you because he loves you, and he loves this country."

After the show, the Chaplain explained that ultimately, "My primary purpose for being a chaplain is to fulfill the Great Commission. This is, in my mind, one of the best-kept secrets about doing ministry in America -- that is, the mission field of the military.... Indeed the fields are ripe for harvest."

According to ABC, the war has brought a deeper appreciation for the ministry of military chaplains. Chaplains report many baptisms and confessions in the Kuwaiti desert amid the intensified conflict.

Stephanie Walker, a soldier serving in Iraq, told ABC that the war has made her think about her relationship with God more seriously than she has in years. "I get a little nervous out here and think, 'Maybe I should get things straight,'" Walker said.

Thornley, who served as a pastor for over a decade before his military chaplaincy says one of the most effective ways of ministering to military personnel like Walker has been through a small-group ministry called, "Ministry Reaching Everyone," which brings soldiers and their families together for Bible studies, discussions and prayer times. It brings a network of prayer support and Christian fellowship to the lives of transient military families, he said.

Ultimately, he says of military families, "They have very special families, they are willing to put on the uniform and to defend the country. And in regards to that, it's not easy. But everyone I've found wearing the military uniform, every family, has just been exceptional in their character. So they can be proud of that."

By Pauline J.