HARLINGEN — Christians know the story about Jesus sending the 12 apostles into the world.
Or do we? What did they do as they spread the word of Jesus?
The Rev. Stephen Missick wants to tell you the story of one of those apostles, Saint Jude Thaddeus. Missick, a chaplain with the Army National Guard, has ministered to the Christians of modern lraq and Iran, where they tell the story of St. Jude.
“I’ve made a biblical film, called ‘Saint Jude Thaddeus: The Legend of the Shroud’,” said Missick, who is assigned here on a border mission.
“It’s already been nominated for some awards,” he said. “We did a music video on it.”
Missick has been deployed twice to Iraq, first as an Army Reserve sergeant in 2002 – 2003 and later as an Army National Guard chaplain about 10 years ago.
“Both times I served in the Baghdad area,” he said. “I was in seminary before I actually deployed the first time. I had completed one semester.”
Being deployed didn’t stop him from pursuing his theology studies.
“I actually took online classes in Iraq,” he said. “It was difficult but I did it.”
Upon returning from his first tour in Iraq he returned to school and continued his studies, graduating with a master’s in divinity in 2009.
“To be a chaplain, you have to have a master’s degree in divinity,” he said. “I felt the call to go into military chaplaincy.”
Upon graduation, he went to Chaplain’s Officers Basic Leadership Course. As soon as he completed the course he was deployed to Iraq, this time as a chaplain. It was only fitting that he deployed to an area which had interested him for many years.
“I’ve worked with Middle Eastern Christians for a long time,” said Missick, 46. “I was in Syria visiting different villages. There are a lot of Iraqi Christians here in the states. I’ve studied their history.”
He’s explored the lives of not only St. Jude but also St. Thomas who ministered with him. Missick has visited the Christian communities founded by St. Thomas in India. He even wrote a research paper on the subject and tried to make a movie.
That project has yet to be fully accomplished, but the St. Jude film is so successful he’s presenting a screening of the work here Jan. 26. The screening is primarily for soldiers but the general public is invited.
Many stories about both Sts. Jude and Thomas were written by the early Church Fathers, he said, stories of which many Christians in the West are unaware. But the Middle Eastern Christians who inherited these stories know them very well, and they tell them.
“I thought I could educate people about who these people are who are being attacked by ISIS,” he said. “Jude Thaddeus is popular among Hispanic Catholics. The interesting thing is they don’t always know his story.”
The Rev. Stephen Missick File
WHO: Chaplain in the Army National Guard
RESIDENCE: Residence is in Houston but currently living in McAllen as part of border mission
MILITARY SERVICE: 2003 – 2004 Served as Army Reserves sergeant in Bagdad
2009 – 2010 Served as an Army National Guard chaplain in Bagdad
EDUCATION: 2009 Earned his master’s degree in divinity from the Southwestern Baptist Theological Center
2017 Earned his doctorate from the Houston Graduate School of Theology
WHAT: Screening of film, “Saint Jude Thaddeus: The Legend of the Shroud”
WHEN: Jan. 26, 6 p.m.
WHERE: Residence Inn
109 Bass Pro Drive, Harlingen
ADMISSION: Free to the public
SOME BOOKS BY THE REV. STEPHEN MISSICK
Christ the Man
The Legend of Jesus: Introducing Aramaic
The Epic of Baal
Judas Maccabeus: The Hammer of God
The Assyrians: The Oldest Christian People
Mary of Magdala