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Troops in Iraq seeking a good dose of encouragement and Sanctus Real can tune their radios to American Force Network on Sundays for “Praise Patrol.”

Many can also turn to their local chaplains, thanks to Chaplain (Capt.) Mark Johnston and the Gospel Music Association. Because of their efforts, about 1,500 CDs by such artists as Sanctus Real, Third Day, Newsboys and Steven Curtis Chapman are in Iraq or on their way.

“We’ve heard reports that people are getting the CDs and really enjoying them and that’s what’s really worth it,” said Johnston, co-host of “Praise Patrol.”

This summer, the GMA contacted artists and labels about the effort and received a good response.

“Through this, I found we have many people within our own industry who have family members involved in the war,” Missy Zahn, executive assistant to GMA President John Styll, said in a GMA statement. “It was amazing to watch the response. It started out with a few boxes trickling in and then within a couple of weeks our mailroom was full!”

The CDs were sent to AFN’s headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany, and then distributed to chaplains in the Mideast with the help of Col. Doug Carver, senior chaplain on the ground, Johnston said.

“The intention was that the chaplains would give them out to their congregants and their soldiers but we left his pretty much open-ended,” Johnston said “… We want to do give a dimension of inspiration.”

Johnston and his wife, Julia, host “Praise Patrol” at 8 a.m. (CET) Sundays on AFN’s Power Network and 3 p.m. (CET) Sundays on AFN’s Z-FM. The show is heard across Europe, as well as in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The show offers the latest in contemporary Christian music, as well as discussion and news about religious matters, a teen minute and a teacher feature for educators.

“We’ve had just a lot of encouragement,” Johnston said. “We’ve made it a multi-dimensional program.”

The chaplain said there’s no program “in the AFN world” like the two-hour broadcast. AFN had wanted to start a similar program in Korea but didn’t have the same support mechanism — which includes Julia’s extensive broadcast experience.

For further information, check the Web site at: www.afneurope.net/chaplain.asp

— Today’s Praise is a roundup of news and reviews from the contemporary Christian music industry.

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