Major Mark Thompson, deployed with the 11th Military Police Brigade in Iraq, spent a good deal of his time at a most unlikely place—a playground.
“Do not let loyalty and faithfulness forsake you; bind them round your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good repute in the sight of God and of people.” —Proverbs 3:3-4
U.S. soldiers had previously built a children’s playground right outside of the detainee facility. While serving as commander for security of the facility, Iraqi children, visiting their loved ones detained there, would come play on the seesaws and swings. The playground provided the opportunity to reach out and connect to the Iraqi children.
“Once I see kids playing, I want to play too,” laughed Major Thompson, father of a 12 year old son. “I’m the biggest kid.”
He, and the other soldiers under his command, often kicked soccer balls and played with the kids there. They also collected toys and school supplies for the children. “We were changing the negative stereotypes some were led to believe about Americans,” reported Mark, who received the Bronze Star for his leadership in Iraq.
“There are a lot of civilians paying prices as well there,” said Mark of the non-military serving abroad. “I appreciate all of the sacrifices they make. They truly support us.”
After Major Thompson came back to duty in the U.S., he was yet again responsible for ensuring soldiers’ safety and morale, just set against a different backdrop. “The mission is different, but the goal is the same,” explained Mark. “Taking care of people.”
Regardless of the responsibilities you have, be sure you engage and focus on the people around you. The end result of service is always about people and meeting their needs.
HEAVENLY AUTHOR, draw me to the hearts of the people around me—no matter the size or the age. May I love people as You did and meet needs as You would.