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Let us pray

by Staff Sgt. Randy Redman
Thunderbolt editor
Photo by: Airman 1st Class Heather N. Kanaszka
Members of Gospel Quartet, from Bell Shoals Baptist Church in Brandon, sing during the National Prayer Breakfast at the Surf's Edge enlisted club Feb. 13. GQ, which also performed at the breakfast last year, received a community coin from Brig. Gen. (Sel.) Tanker Snyder, commander, 6th Air Mobility Wing.

While religion in the western hemisphere is widely regarded as a personal issue and not openly discussed in most circles, it still has a time and a place in the military. The annual National Prayer Breakfast was held at the Surf's Edge Enlisted Club Feb. 13 with a crowd of nearly 300 active duty military, retirees and civilians in attendance.

The National Prayer Breakfast began in 1953 when President Dwight D. Eisenhower set aside a time to pray for the nation and its leaders. Since 1972, the military has been observing the prayer breakfast on military installations throughout the world -- taking time in their prayers to include servicemembers deployed or at war.

Chaplain (Maj. Gen.) Lorraine K. Potter, chief of the Air Force Chaplain Service, was the guest speaker at the event here, which included Christians, Hindus, Jews and Muslims. Her message for the event was "Where is God?"

She said during her 35 years as a pastor, she has seen many painful situations where one kind of person will process trying events and go on with life. However, another person will get stuck in hopelessness and despair.

"(The first person) believes and senses that God will be present to help them move on," said Chaplain Potter. "The other cannot see beyond the events that are happening right now." She said many people face similar problems when facing the threat of terrorism.

"Are we looking through the eyes of faith or the eyes of despair?" asked Chaplain Potter.

She said the purpose of terrorism is to change America's focus from security to fear, and turn us into victims. However, she said the "eyes of faith" see that a new day is close at hand if America can look beyond the current circumstances and focus on the power of God.

Capt. James Taylor, chaplain for the 6th Air Mobility Wing, organized the event designed to bring people together regardless of their religious background.

"The whole reason we are here is to help people exercise their right to worship," said Chaplain Taylor. Chaplain Taylor felt the event shouldn't be just for one religion and included as many as possible during the breakfast.

Capt. Aaron Scheer, Jewish lay leader, read scriptures in original Hebrew text from the Torah, and Chaplain (Capt.) Brian Van Sickle, command chaplain from United States Special Operations Command, read Christian scriptures from the Bible.

Also as part of the breakfast, Master Sgt. Ish Mohammed, first sergeant, 6th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, read text from the Qur'an to represent the Muslim population. Finally, Col. Sarla Saujani, from the 6th Medical Operations Squadron, read Hindu passages from the Bhagavad Gita.

While most of the event was focused on the more serious side of the issues America faces, there was entertainment to keep the mood light. The Gospel Quartet from Bell Shoals Baptist Church in Brandon had the crowd tapping their toes along with several upbeat songs.

To thank the quartet, Brig. Gen. (Sel.) Tanker Snyder, 6th Air Mobility Wing commander, presented all four members with a community coin. He also thanked the diverse crowd for attending the prayer breakfast and said it was a testament to the strong unity we have as a base at MacDill.

"We're united in our righteousness and our spiritual commitment to a higher calling," said General Snyder.

 

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