Editor’s note: This is part of an occasional series profiling the men and women serving with the Georgia National Guard’s 48th Brigade in Afghanistan.
CAMP PHOENIX, Afghanistan — One 48th Brigade soldier got a pass to leave a month early recently. First Lt. Leslie Nelson, 41, a chaplain with the unit, was excused to leave the first week of February.
Her husband, a lieutenant colonel, will soon be deploying to Iraq.
Nelson will get some time with him and their two daughters, Morgan, 20, and Lindsey, 17, before he leaves.
When Nelson leaves the 48th, the unit will lose one of its most unique personalities.
Nelson is the first woman chaplain to deploy to a war zone with the 48th Brigade, she was told.
She is also the only chaplain in the Georgia National Guard to represent her church, the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel.
“We really believe in Jesus,” Nelson said of her relatively unknown Protestant denomination. “We’re not a cult.”
The term “Foursquare” comes from the church’s belief in Jesus Christ as “the savior, the baptizer, the healer and the coming king.”
Members of International Church of the Foursquare Gospel church are often found on the West Coast.
“The one thing that’s unique about Foursquare is it was started by a woman,” Nelson said, referring to Aimee Semple McPherson, an evangelist who founded the church in California in 1927.
Nelson was an associate pastor for a Foursquare church in Stockbridge before joining the Georgia Guard full time.
In her role as an Army chaplain, Nelson serves soldiers of all denominations.
Thomas L. Day is currently on assignment in Afghanistan.