To the editor:
A Kurdish officer spoke in a language I had not yet learned. But pointing at a stack of ammo cans, and then to the Humvee, I could understand he was asking me to help load the ammo into the fighting vehicle. The Humvee had its own battle scars.
The bulletproof glass was cracked in countless places where it had been hit numerous times in previous battles. Its body riddled with dents and bullet holes. This would be my chariot for the day as we were heading to fight.
We were the last vehicle of the convoy heading out of the base. The officer driving began having trouble steering the Humvee left and right around the barricades of our base entrance.
The power steering ceased to work. I reached over and aided him with the steering until we passed the last barrier and fully exited past the obstacles. There was a small mechanic shop just outside the base that we pulled into. Upon inspection, a broken engine belt was the culprit of our mechanical problems. The local Kurdish mechanic certainly did not have a belt on hand for a U.S. Humvee.
My teammate Walter and I ran back into the base to one of the other Humvees that were utterly incapacitated. They had run their course of battle and were beyond repair. But, popping the hood, we were in luck. This broken-down machine offered us the needed engine belt to send us on our mission. After a few minutes, we were on our way to catch back up with the convoy.
The radio chatter squelching across was in Arabic. The officer driving was wide-eyed. He took a turn off the road, taking us down a dirt path. I could see ahead, about a mile or so away, the convoy we were initially part of. The engagement with the enemy had already begun. Tracer rounds from our machine guns were zooming to the right toward a village, while shots from ISIS could be seen zipping to the left, back toward our convoy ahead. The officer was driving faster to get us caught up and into the fight. The soldier operating our top-mounted machine gun racked his weapon. Without much thought, the rest of us took our weapons off safe.
How Great Thou Art. At that moment, I began singing the hymn.
Oh Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder
Consider all the worlds Thy hands have made. I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder. Thy power throughout the universe displayed. And when I think of God, His Son not sparing Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in that on the Cross, my burden gladly bearing He bled and died to take away my sin. When Christ shall come with shout of acclamation And lead me home, what joy shall fill my heart. Then I shall bow with humble adoration and then proclaim, my God, How Great Thou Art.
Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to Thee. How Great Thou art, how great Thou art. Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to Thee. How Great Thou Art. How Great Thou Art.
Feeling slightly alone in a Humvee on a terrifying field of battle, the worship of our Lord and Saviour was happening. Peace came over my spirit in the middle of a war. God was present, and He rejuvenated my spirit.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, this Easter, we may not have been afforded the ability to gather inside the walls of our churches. Looking at what is ahead may seem terrifying. You may feel alone inside your home.
I attest you are not alone. Our Lord God is with you. He is always with us. Christ does not dwell in the walls of this world. The veil was torn upon His death on the cross. His new temple was built three days later when He resurrected. God dwells in His new temple, the hearts of man. He dwells within each of us.
Gather yourself for a moment. Gather those in your household. Praise and Worship Him. Amid any despair, He will bring peace upon you. He will rain down joy and rejuvenate your spirit. A peculiar people we are to be, and so we shall.
Celebrate. Rejoice. Worship. Praise. Live.
We are forever alive because He is forever alive in us.