Thursday, September 22, 2005

Alternative Ministry

Ministry is anything but static. We minister to people--people whose lives are continually changing (for better and sometimes worse). We must be willing to adapt to their changing needs while keeping our feet planted firmly on eternal principles. If I had to guess, I would say that almost half of my ministry could be described as visiting soldiers where they work, eat, exercise, and sleep. Also, I probably spend 20-30 hours a week counseling soldiers. In an average week, I spend no more than 10 hours conducting bible studies, seminars, and worship services.

In an effort to spend more one-on-one time with soldiers and leaders I have initiated a barber ministry. I give between 15-30 hair cuts each week. I have had no barber training, but I have watched barbers carefully. I gave it a try when we first got out here, and I was actually pretty good, and have gotten even better--at least they keep returning. I give hair cuts to every type of soldier: male and female, black and white, high ranking and junior enlisted. I can give a flat top, high and tight, high fade, low fade, etc. The women soldiers usually just get the dry ends of their long hair trimmed, but sometimes they ask for some type of style; I do what I can. By the end of a hair cutting day my back is pretty stiff. I have burned through 6 sets of clippers. A couple of friends have helped keep me stocked with new clippers, capes, razors, and shaving cream. While I am cutting soldiers' hair, we visit about life and often discuss their concerns. I hear a lot of gossip and rumors--but these help me keep my thumb on the pulse of the unit.

Although soldiers in combat share a bond and a type of intimacy few civilians have experienced, we're not a touchy feely group, generally speaking. Cutting soldiers' hair requires me to get into their personal space, touch their heads, and their ears--in short, it requires them to trust me. With their trust, soldiers are often more open and frank with me. Some of my more meaningful conversations with soldiers occur while I have clippers or scissors at their heads. A few of the junior enlisted soldiers are unusually particular about their hair styles and can be pretty tough customers (I don't charge any money or take any donations), which reminds me of the grief I used to give my parents about my haircuts while I was growing up.

Below are pictures of me cutting SGT Lee's hair at FOB Dagger, and SSG Lemay's at FOB Remagen.

1 comment:

Ernest said...

Hey, great thinking, who would imagine connecting with people by cutting their hair...

It's great to "see" you online here, it is kind of a living journal, isn't it?

Also, it is great to be in touch with someone who values his connection to, and service for, Christ. Keep the faith,

You can visit me at: "Ernest Goes to Iraq"