Right now, we're watching a lynch mob, and Christians are getting engaged in the lynching. In any other situation, we'd be hugging the parents and weeping with them.
What prompted the email you shared?
I'm being asked specifically if Bob is some kind of secret Muslim. People were saying, "The father is a Muslim, look at his beard. Look how he gets up in front of the White House and says one of the opening verses of the Qur'an."
What's been the response of your own congregation in Virgina?
Supportive. We've been praying for Bob and Jani and they've visited our church. I couldn't be more thankful for the way my congregation is handling this. Others have contacted me, saying, "Pass the word on to Bob and Jani that we love them and we're praying for them."
How are the Bergdahls handling all the controversy?
They are hunkered down, and their [mindset] is, "We're just going to thank God that our son who was lost is found, that our son who was dead is alive, and look forward to the day we can hold our son again."
Did Bowe ever discuss his faith with you?
He was at a stage in his life where he was wanting to know if it was his faith or if it was his parents' faith--a young adult kind of thing. He was very intelligent. He wasn't rebellious at all.
Did he ever make a profession of faith?
He did not make a public profession of faith. We were working through that pastorally, and working through this questioning period, and whether he ever got to the place of saying, "Yes, this is my commitment," I don't know. While he was in captivity, he made a point of celebrating Christmas and Easter, and asked his captors to join in with him in celebrating, and I find that profoundly significant.
How would you describe Bowe's personality?
He's intelligent and very well read. His parents are rugged individualists, intelligent, outdoors kind of people. Bowe is the kind of person who'd build his own house, then sit down and read Socrates in the evening by firelight.
How did you minister to Bob and Jani while their son was gone?
Bob's continual communication with me was expressing fear and discouragement, but always coming back to God's sovereignty in this. He believed that God is guiding Bowe through this, that God is protecting Bowe. That was his comfort. He would say that Sundays were one of his most encouraging days because that was the day he knew that people all around the world were praying for Bowe specifically.
How would you like to see the Christian community respond?
There's the parable of the prodigal son. To me, that is a striking parallel. The prodigal son has come home. The elder brother, the faithful son, at the end of Luke 15, is the one standing out alone in the night, and the father leaves the house and goes to the elder brother and says, "Won't you come in and rejoice with us?" I hope that we, the Christian community, could make a distinction between politics and between such offenses.
If Bowe was a deserter, I'll be the first to send him a care package in prison. There has to be a fundamental level at which we can just come around a brother and sister in the Lord, whose son has been held captive by the Taliban for five years, and wrap our arms around them, and cry, and give them a kiss. That doesn't align me with any political party. It doesn't make me spit in the face of soldiers who may have died looking for Bowe. I'm not getting into any of that. If there are criminal things that have happened, by all means, let's have a trial, there's a law system for that. But this is a lynch mob that's happening right now.