During a recent deployment with the U.S. Navy, Chaplain David Jeltema led 40 Marines on a special mission. They weren’t undertaking a covert operation or securing a distant port; they were serving the people of Guam.
Marines from Camp Pendleton (Calif.) serve in Guam.
Working with Faith Presbyterian Christian Reformed Church, Jeltema planned the project, months in the making. “When I learned that my battalion was going to be in Guam for several days in September, I contacted the Guam church,” said Jeltema. The response was enthusiastic.
The Marines worked on two projects on the island. One group cleared brush and debris from a beach area while another built a fire pit and did landscaping for Pacific Islands University, a small Christian college near the church.
Jeff Nelson, associate pastor at Faith said, “Our part in this was to host them after the projects were done.” The guests were treated to a “fabulous” island-style barbecue, enthusiastic singing by 15 children from the church’s daycare/after-school program, an informal worship service, and the university choir sharing four island melodies.
“This congregation is one of the warmest, most hospitable CRC groups that I have ever met,” said Jeltema. “The tough Marines were deeply touched, and some were even in tears as they took in the beauty of genuine hospitality and worship.”
Jeltema said it was an unforgettable day, a foretaste of heaven as believers from opposite sides of the world met on a Pacific island for fellowship and worship. “This day will not be soon forgotten by any of the sailors or Marines who attended,” he said. “It strengthened their fledgling faith during a long deployment far from their households of faith. I think it represented the power of our CRC affiliation and cooperation at its best.”