Southern Baptist chaplain calls for prayer for U.S. troops during Jan. 30 Iraqi elections

SOUTHERN IRAQ (BP)--A Southern Baptist chaplain stationed in Iraq has requested special prayer for U.S. troops involved in the historic democratic elections scheduled Jan. 30 in that country.

"Our troops will be delivering the voting machines and ballots to villages and cities throughout Iraq and are prime targets for the insurgents. Encourage your friends and family members and those within our churches to pray specifically for our soldiers and the electoral process," Capt. Lyle Schackelford asked in an e-mail to friends and family members.

"The insurgents do not want Iraqi citizens to vote, so they do not want the equipment to arrive at the polling stations," Schackelford wrote from Iraq. "Timely delivery must occur so that the elections occur. Freedom will not ring throughout this country if the voting process fails."

He encouraged Christians to announce the prayer request in their churches, neighborhoods and places of business. "Those with leadership roles in our churches can post this request in their newsletters, worship service bulletins and on websites. There is unlimited potential for God's presence in this process. But if we do not pray, our enemy will prevail.

"I will pray with my soldiers before they leave on their convoys and move outside our installation gates here in [Southern Iraq]. They will be driving into the arena of the enemy delivering the voting machines and equipment. It is not a game for them, but an historical mission that is extremely dangerous," Schackelford wrote. "Your prayer support and God's intervention are needed to safeguard our soldiers and give democracy a chance in the war-torn country."

Shackelford is one of nearly 2,400 Southern Baptist-endorsed chaplains serving across the country and around the world in the military, hospitals, prisons and other institutions and businesses. More than 1,000 Southern Baptist-endorsed chaplains serve in the U.S. military.

An Atlanta native, Shackelford considers Florida home but most recently has been stationed near Marysville, Ohio, where his wife, Shannon, and their two sons live.