By Army Maj. Angel Jackson
U.S. Army Central
May 5 will always be a special day for one U.S. Army Central Soldier. While participating in exercise Eager Lion, she dedicated her life to God and country.
With tears in her eyes, Staff Sgt. Christal Crawford, a USARCENT broadcast specialist, walked down the steps leading to the Jordan River at the baptism site of Jesus to change into her robe. When asked if everything is ok she responded, "It's just all so overwhelming."
A native of Biloxi, Mississippi, Crawford said she was amazed she was actually standing on such holy ground.
“I never imagined when I was younger that I would get to experience being baptized in the same river as the Lord and where my faith was born,” said Crawford. “I thought it was a true miracle.”
Donning a white robe and black stole, Maj. Pinkie Fischer, USARCENT operations chaplain, walked with Crawford to the edge of the river. As her military family and tourists looked on, Crawford listened, eyes fixated on Fischer, appearing to hang on to Fischer's every word.
“The uniqueness of this baptism was that it was conducted in a river whose history dates back to biblical times,” said Fischer, a native of Brooklyn, New York. “So much history and so many miracles happened in and around this river that there is a feeling of connection to many individuals we read about in the bible.”
Prior to performing the baptism, Fischer detailed three significant events that took place in the river: the Israelites crossing over dry land from Jordan to Israel under the army commander Joshua, the healing of Army commander Naaman, and the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist.
Fischer explained like Crawford, she felt a strong connection to the beginnings of Christianity. “Biblical stories I read about came to life when I got into that water,” said Fischer.
It took only five seconds for Crawford to seal her commitment to Christianity when Fischer dipped her into the Jordan River.
“After I came out of the water I was elated,” said Crawford. “ A lot went into trying to make that experience happen, but in the end it all worked out as it was supposed to.”
Fischer said opportunities like water baptisms that allow her to support or strengthen a Soldier’s faith reaffirms her calling to serve as an Army chaplain.
A few hours later, Crawford stood across from the USARCENT contingency command post tactical operations center she helped construct, raised her right hand, and reenlisted into the U.S. Army. She said she joined the Army because she comes from a military family and she knew she would be good at it.
The USARCENT CCP is part of one of more than 20 nations participating in exercise Eager Lion 17 in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Eager Lion is one of U.S. Central Command’s premier exercises, and is the largest and most complex to date.
Crawford said although she has seen pictures of other Soldiers reenlisting in helicopters and other cool places she thought Jordan would be an awesome place to reaffirm her commitment to the Army and to the Lord and savior Jesus Christ.
“To me the oath of enlistment means that I’ll fight and die for what I believe in and all that I love,” said Crawford. “As a Soldier, I look forward to seeing more of the world and making a positive impact on others.”
U.S. ARMY RESERVE
DEPT. OF DEFENSE
U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND
DEPT. OF HOMELAND SECURITY
BEST WARRIOR COMPETITION