Bowe Bergdahl’s Former Pastor Shares His Personal Reflections on the Recent Events

Phil Proctor is an Orthodox Presbyterian Church Minister in Sterling, VA, who was the Bergdahls’ Pastor in Idaho, shares his ministry to the family

To the foundational issue: Bob and Jani both have regularly confessed their dependence upon Christ and rest in him – the most recent being Bob’s conversation with me about a month ago. They are broken people who need prayer, love, and compassion. I personally intend to run as hard as I can in the opposite direction of judging his words in the moment of his crucible – I would HATE to have that standard applied to my moments of stress, which have never reached anything approaching his intensity and duration!

 

Editor’s note: This account appeared on Andy Webb’s The Outer Monologue.

I mentioned recently that Bowe Bergdahl’s parents were members of an Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC) church when he was captured by the Taliban and since that time I’ve had a lot of people ask me if they had become Muslims or what was up. I asked their former pastor Phil Proctor if he would mind giving me something I could share, this is what Phil wrote:

“I appreciate your asking about the Bergdahls. I’ve really been saddened about how the Christian community is jumping all over this. Here’s the deal…

I pastored the Bergdahl family in 2003, prior to going to Uganda. We were very close, and remained so throughout my time in Uganda (I just found out this evening that apparently I’m referenced in some important Rolling Stone article from 2012).

Bowe was a young man with all the dangers of home-schooling – a brilliant and inquisitive mind, a crisp thinker, and someone who had never really been exposed to evil in the world. He was wanting to determine whether the Christian faith was his own, or his parents’ and was doing a lot of exploring of ideas – never drugs or alcohol, but trying to be an outdoors/Renaissance type figure. We’ve stayed in close contact with Bob and Jani, especially since Bowe’s capture. Since we moved here to Northern Virginia, Bob and Jani have stayed in our home on a couple of occasions, and I’ve spoken on the phone with Bob once a month or so.

Bob felt (with some justification) that the US government was not going to engage with diplomatic efforts and so decided to try to free his son himself. He learned Pashtun and developed a lot of contacts in the Middle East. The Qatar connection is one that either originated with Bob or, at the very least, became very personally connected to Bob. Bob has, for quite some time, been saying that the closure of Guantanamo is integrally connected to the release of his son.

Whatever one thinks of Bob’s political views, I can attest to both he and Jani’s unwavering commitment to Christ and trust in him. I’ve prayed with both of them regularly. They both have been through a torture mill that I cannot begin to comprehend – 5 years of a living death. It has affected their health, both physically and mentally, as Bob has been completely obsessed with tracking down any possible communication avenue to get his son home. There are a number of things I would disagree with Bob on in terms of political statements, but at the end of the day, I think this whole mess is a WHOLE lot more complicated than a 30 second sound bite can explore – the very existence of Gitmo attests to the complicated nature from the very beginning, and it’s only gotten worse over the years.

To the foundational issue: Bob and Jani both have regularly confessed their dependence upon Christ and rest in him – the most recent being Bob’s conversation with me about a month ago. They are broken people who need prayer, love, and compassion. I personally intend to run as hard as I can in the opposite direction of judging his words in the moment of his crucible – I would HATE to have that standard applied to my moments of stress, which have never reached anything approaching his intensity and duration!

Feel free to forward this and use it as widely as you like.

Yours in Christ,
Phil Proctor
Pastor, Sterling Presbyterian Church (OPC)
Sterlingopc.org

FYI. My most recent conversation with Bob and Jani was 30 minutes ago. Still Christians.”