On June 3, 1971, at a U.S. Air Force installation in Florida, I received a call from my officer that we needed to send a water and sanitation engineer to India to help refugees from a neighboring country.
I had a good feeling this was for me. Within two hours, I was on an airplane headed to North Carolina and then on to India.
In the 30 days our team was there, we airlifted 20,000 tons of rice in and 23,000 refugees out. In addition to my engineering duties, I acted as a first sergeant and chaplain and did a bit of everything.
I went on some of the airlifts giving out food, clothing and candy. Most of the refugees had only the clothes on their backs. On one airlift, an old man passed away. On another, a woman delivered a baby girl right before we landed.
I remember one little girl we airlifted who had never flown before. She was absolutely terrified. I comforted her and said “Peace be with you.” Very soon, she was calm and unafraid.
On a Sunday there, I was reading the book of Matthew, as I had many times, and Matthew 25:40 came to life for me. It says, "And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”
My mind and heart were full of love and compassion for the refugees, tears were rolling down my cheeks and I knew these verses from Matthew were true. I was happy to be in the service of my God.
Retired U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Gordon H. Christensen lives in the Kaysville 18th Ward, Kaysville Utah Crestwood Stake.
Copyright 2017, Deseret News Publishing Company