January 1, 2013

Shielded by Prayer

There was so much dust—too much dust. We always tried to stay in the tire tracks of the vehicle in front of us. We figured if they didn’t explode, we wouldn’t explode either. But that day we had stopped to assist one of our companies who was searching for possible insurgents and were returning to the base on a little dirt path that we didn’t normally take. We were the third vehicle in the convoy, but there was so much dust that we could not see the tire tracks in front of us. Suddenly, the worst happened. We hit an explosive buried in the path. It went off right underneath the wheel on my side. It’s a wonder that any of us even survived, but none of us had any more than superficial injuries. My fellow Marines told me I was lucky, but I knew better. God was protecting me because of the prayers of my Christian family back home.

The Gospel goes back at least three generations on both sides of my family. I was brought to the Apostolic Faith Church right from the beginning, and my parents and grandparents all lived victorious Christian lives before me. I knew that God was real and that Jesus was the only way to make it to Heaven, and I planned to live a Christian life someday. But I felt that I needed to try the world and have some fun before I really got serious and gave my life to the Lord.

As I neared the completion of high school, I wasn’t sure what to do next. A friend of mine was planning to join the Marine Corps and invited me to talk to a recruiter with him. I liked what I heard. Growing up, my grandfather had told lots of stories about his service in the Army Air Force in England during World War II. I looked up to the men of his generation who made so many sacrifices to protect our freedoms and save Europe from tyranny. In the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks, I wanted to do something to serve my country and protect our way of life the way my grandfather had. I decided that I wanted to be a Marine.

Boot camp was very difficult and, although I wasn’t saved, I really leaned on the Lord and He undertook for me in many difficult situations. That should have caused me to give my life to Him, but I selfishly persisted in my own ways. After graduating from boot camp and military occupation school, I was stationed in Hawaii. There I chose to take part in many sinful things, seeking to find the excitement and fun that I thought the world had to offer. Some of those activities did bring temporary pleasure, but they led me further away from the Lord. In an effort to maintain some sort of connection to the goodness of the Lord that I had grown up with, I tried to pray every day like I had been taught. But every so often I would catch myself forgetting to pray before a meal, and I realized that I was slipping even further away from the truth. Deep down I wasn’t at peace because I knew I wasn’t right with the Lord.

In September of 2006, I deployed to the Al Anbar province of Iraq with the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment. During our first few days in Iraq, the battalion we were replacing lost a Marine to a roadside bomb, and it was very sobering to realize what a deadly situation we were in. I was assigned to the commanding officer’s personal security team as his driver. Nearly every day we were on some of the deadliest roads in the world. The day our vehicle was hit on that dirt path was particularly memorable, but we were attacked with roadside bombs or mortars many times. I personally knew several Marines who lost their lives due to enemy action or tragic accidents, yet the Lord miraculously brought me through.

All it took was one prayer and a truly repentant heart, and I felt heavenly peace descend.

After returning to Hawaii, I continued to make sinful choices, even though I had seen the Lord come through for me. I knew I was bound for Hell if I didn’t repent, but I was buried deep in sin. My bad choices had led me nowhere and I realized I had nothing to stand on. Finally, on June 3, 2007, I cried out to the Lord and told Him that I was sorry for the way I had been living and that from then on I wanted to do the right thing and follow Him. All it took was one prayer and a truly repentant heart, and I felt heavenly peace descend. I finally had what I needed.

By this time my contract was close to being up, and I had a lot of steps to complete in order to sign out of my unit and leave the Marine Corps. Every day I asked the Lord for help, and He never disappointed me. I’m so thankful for how He helped me in every way and with every problem that arose.

Not long after my discharge, I moved away from home again to attend the University of Oregon. I had only been saved for a short time and college can be a challenging environment for a Christian. I really missed attending the weeknight services and youth activities of my home church and, as far as I knew, I was the only Christian on the rugby team. But the Lord helped me hold on to what He had given me, and I was able to live for Him.

During my junior year, I was able to start attending the Apostolic Faith Church in Roseburg, Oregon, which is about an hour’s drive from the university. I’m thankful for my time there; the saints were so wonderful to welcome me into their church family. It was always nice to be able to get away from the burdens and stress of college, if only for a day, and enjoy being with the family of God.

In March of 2011, I graduated and moved back home to Portland, and God has continued to be faithful to me. My college apartment manager was able to find someone to take over my lease shortly after I moved, something I hadn’t yet prayed about before it was answered. The Lord provided me with a good job despite poor economic conditions and I have a nice place to live.

I’m so thankful that I surrendered to the Lord. Life isn’t always easy and I haven’t always made perfect decisions, but my desire has been to follow the Lord, and He has kept me in the Gospel by His grace. Remembering how good God has been to me in the past makes me even more determined to continue to follow and serve Him and draw closer to Him. I know that His promises are real and that I can count on Him no matter what.

apostolic faith magazine