|Orthodox Chapel at Kandahar Air Base|
Did you know about the only existing christian church in Afghanistan? In a country where over 90% of the population is either sunni muslim or another muslim sect, it must be an incredible and often heartwarming sight for christian military to see that cupola from the air field at Kandahar.
The building of this church isn’t recent news, but it was new information for me to learn yesterday while listening to a podcast by Fr. David Alexander on Ancient Faith Radio. Fr. David is an Orthodox priest and military chaplain serving our U.S. forces in Afghanistan, although I believe he has returned to the states at this point.
From him I learned the story of how this beautiful little chapel came into being:
When the seven coalition countries first came to Afghanistan to provide the initial diplomatic and military response to the attacks of 9/11, Romania was one of those countries. Each host nation built their own compound at Kandahar and Romania desired a church to be a part of their compound. One of their contacts from back home in Transylvania, Romania sent photos of a monastic chapel. From these photographs, an ethnically Romanian, American civil engineer along with the Romanians and Americans built this chapel in a matter of days. The chapel is complete with an altar, a full iconostasis and even a bell house out front.
Fr. David describes it as a place where “beauty meets simplicity” and likens the church to St. Vladimir’s Seminary Chapel (New York) and St. Herman’s Chapel in Kodiak, Alaska. How wonderful to hear of such a rich jewel in an otherwise barren and camouflaged landscape.
Listening to Fr. David speak of the hospitality of the Romanians and the diverse worship services held in this chapel, including Americans,Canadians, Russian contractors, Macedonians, Bulgarians and Dutch military, calls to mind a beautiful image of Afghanistan. May the Lord bless and preserve those in defense of freedom everywhere...and may our Lord touch many more souls through the example of those who serve Him.
You can listen to a variety of Fr. David’s podcasts here and see more images of the chapel here, from the St. George Orthodox Military Association. The podcast in which Fr. David is speaking of this chapel is titled, "Paschal Joy, Paschal Lessons, Paschal Rest".