Shining A Light on the Dark Continent

Category Archives: CJTF-HOA

Ambassador Battle and the Interfaith Conference

Navy Chaplain Jon Cutler, left, Ambassador Michael Battle, center, and Air Force Chaplain Dave Terrinoni, right
Navy Chaplain Jon Cutler, left, Ambassador Michael Battle, center, and Air Force Chaplain Dave Terrinoni, right

“We have an appointment to meet Ambassador Mike Battle at 1 p.m.,” Dave wrote in his journal on March 7, 2011 from Addis Ababa, during his second trip to Ethiopia in three months. This news surprised the team since they were not expecting it.

Dr. Michael Battle, a retired Army chaplain, is the U.S. Ambassador to the African Union, a position started in 2006 by President George W. Bush. Battle took the position in 2009. Dave said the ambassador worked on President Barak Obama’s senate campaign and Obama appointed him to the position.

Dave found Ambassador Battle to be a very polished, knowledgeable, and friendly man. “Good attributes for a chaplain that translate well into State Department diplomacy and international conversations,” Dave said.

During the meeting, Ambassador Battle expressed an interest in the interfaith conference the team is working toward setting up. “He said if the All Africa Council of Churches goes for the conference, he feels the African Union will fall in line,” Dave said. Battle also told Dave that the President is very interested in an interfaith dialogue and is sure “there would be much White House interest and attendance at a conference like this.”

That level of interest worried Dave a bit. “Seminary and the Air Force Chaplain School did not prepare me for high-level international dialogue and interaction. So I relied on prayer and faith to make sure I was communicating clearly my intent of friendship, cooperation and helping to create an opportunity for conversation between groups of people. Fortunately, no one threw us out of their office, so we must have done something right,” he said.

In the meantime, the political advisor for the Combined Joint Task Force—Horn of Africa in Djibouti encouraged Dave to take the test and apply to the State Department because of his experience and successful relationship-building in Eastern Africa. She must have seen the same skills in Dave that Ambassador Battle possessed.

The interfaith conference Dave so wanted to happen didn’t occur because the All Africa Council of Churches already held a similar one. Dave still prays it will happen again someday.

However, it was another amazing day for Dave and his team as they strive to build relationships with leaders, both religious and non-religious, in Eastern Africa.

 

Chaplains Training Chaplains

    Military-to-military engagement was a big part of Dave’s job while stationed in Djibouti. Not only did he work with the different branches of the U.S. military, but he also spent time with members of the Kenya Ministry of Defense (KMOD), particularly with the chaplains.   The Kenyan chaplains saw the need for aContinue Reading

In Africa, when religious leaders speak, people listen

“Whew! What an amazing day,” Dave said. On March 3, he met with Bright Mawdor, deputy general secretary of the All African Conference of Churches and learned a lot. Unlike in the United States, separation of church and state does not exist. “When the Secretariat speaks, the government listens,” Dave said. AACC leaders interact withContinue Reading

U.S. and Kenyan Chaplains Meet

One of the more exciting aspects of Dave’s job in Africa was military and religious engagement and he experienced both when he and his boss met with the three  principal chaplains of the Kenyan Military, Col. Alfred Rotich, a Roman Catholic bishop; Col. Paul Simiyu, an Anglican bishop; and Lt. Col.Mohammed Ahmed, a Muslim imamContinue Reading

An Afghan Pilot Went Postal

An Afghani Goes Postal Do you remember the group of Americans killed at the Kabul International Airport back in April 2011? Well that is how Maj. David “Klepto” Brodeur and eight others died. A veteran Afghan air force pilot executed eight U.S. service people, including Klepto, and an American civilian contractor. The nine Americans attendedContinue Reading

The Arta Peace Walk

The day after Thanksgiving, Dave joined others from Camp Lemonnier for a peace “walk” which turned out to be an arduous hike. More than 50 people showed up at the designated area to catch buses to the starting point at 5:45 a.m. only to discover the buses were accidentally cancelled. Many of the participants were disappointedContinue Reading

A Chance Encounter

Dave’s favorite saying, or at least one of them, is “Coincidence is when God wants to remain anonymous.” Therefore, in this next story, God was clearly at work based on the amount of coincidence. One November night, after his first dinner with the coalition that included the Japanese Ambassador and his wife, the European Ambassador,Continue Reading