December 12 2013 Latest news:
Monday, September 23, 2013
A chaplain swapped his rural parish in Norfolk for a ministry caring for thousands of UK troops serving at Camp Bastion, Afghanistan.
Nigel Kinsella, whose parish in Norfolk was Harling United Benefice, in East Harling, near Thetford, which covered East Harling, West Harling, Bridgham, Larling, Brettenham and Rushford, has nearly completed four months in the war-torn country.
The 47-year-old spent 14 years as a police officer, firstly in the West Midlands and then in Norfolk, before he received a higher calling to the ministry.
Four years ago he joined the army as a chaplain and chose to go to Afghanistan to help after seeing returning soldiers. He became chaplain to the PWRR (Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment) and then, most recently, the Household Cavalry.
Chaplain Kinsella, who lives in Norwich with his wife Sharon, said: “This is my first operational tour and it has been a unique experience.
“My role has two parts. First, I am the brigade troop echelon chaplain, which means I have to provide pastoral care for 1,500 people.
“Secondly, I have to co-ordinate with the garrison headquarters, particularly in regard to any special or extra services.
“Before I arrived, I had a sense of what the job required, but the activity beyond the camp has been a lot quieter than I expected, which shows the mission is being achieved.
“There are a lot of similarities with my work in the UK, as it is still about being alongside people, or indeed sharing their lives.”
However, he said there were obvious differences. Compared to an English church the community is also much younger, aged between 18 and 30, and their family and friends are thousands of miles away in the UK.
With just a few weeks left of his four-and-a-half month stint, he said he was looking forward to coming home and being with his wife and children.
He added: “I will be swimming, cycling and running in the forests, none of which I can do in Camp Bastion.
“I will hand over to four people and my advice will be to relax and let God lead you. I have seen how here in Camp Bastion when events occur the right people are in the right place at the right time to do the right thing. The veil is thin between us and God here.”