Grace Brethren Army chaplain, Capt. Pete Stone, recently sent this update from Afghanistan, where he is deployed. He shares the story of SSG L., a soldier he recently led to the Lord, and how you can pray specifically for this new brother in Christ.
Recently I was waiting at the HLZ (helicopter landing zone) for my helicopter ride back to FOB Gardez after several days of ministry at one of the COPs. The bird was late, so I took the opportunity to strike up a conversation with one of our sergeants that was working at the HLZ.
He was someone I have been working with for quite a few months now. His home situation is somewhat tragic, having to do with a teenage daughter that struggles with severe personality disorders and a wife that is dealing with health issues.
He’s one of our nation’s great soldiers who has given much to all of us through his 5 combat deployments. He’s seen and been through more than any of us could possibly imagine. This tour, although not very kinetic like previous tours, seems to be doing quite a number on him. One simply can’t endure all he has been through without sufficient time to recover and heal, then have the strife at home piled on top, then be deployed again to a stressful administrative job he’s in now without some real problems emerging. He was sharing it all with me. It was one thing after another for about 25 minutes. Then he started sharing about his tragic childhood. Oh my goodness. It was a wreck. After about 40 minutes I couldn’t take it any more.
I wanted to find an excuse to walk away, but the thought entered my mind, “You’ve been working with this guy for a long time. You know he’s spiritually sensitive. You’ve earned his trust. This is the right time to ask him what he’s waiting for.” So I did. I simply laid it out to him very frankly. “My goodness, brother, what are you waiting for? You are carrying an impossible weight around. When are you going to let Jesus come in, take possession of your life and start handling this for you?”
“My Pop says I need to get saved,” he replied. “But I’m not sure what that really means.”
“This is important,” I said. “I’d love to explain it if you want to listen.” He did.
I spent the next 15 minutes explaining what sin is and how it has separates us from God; and I spoke about the good news that Jesus suffered under the wrath of God on our behalf, and in return gave us his own righteousness so we could stand justified before God. He was shocked it had nothing to do with going to church or stopping drinking. “That’s why it’s called grace,” I said. “The change part will come when the life of Christ becomes your own life. The work will come through his power.” He was hooked.
Just then our medics came scrambling around the corner. “We’ve got a civilian gunshot wound at the gate. We need to get the stretcher out there now!” People all around us started shuffling around, grabbing medical supplies and running past the HLZ toward the gate. I sensed it was an opportunity for the enemy to rob the moment from us. My friend didn’t flinch, though. He barely noticed what was going on.
“Do you want to have this in your life?” I asked. “Do you want this?”
“Yeah, Chappy, but I don’t know how. What do I do?”
We moved around the bunker to a place of privacy. We bowed our heads and prayed. As soon as we finished praying he started sobbing. This warrior…this patriot…this man of valor…this broken family man bowed his soul in relief underneath the Great Pardon of God.
Please pray for SSG L. Please pray that the enemy will not rob the seed that has been sown. Please pray for his heart to be good soil. Please pray that the Spirit will cause this Gospel seed to take deep, nourishing root in his heart and result in a transformed life. Please pray for demonstrations of the Spirit’s power to confirm for him that Jesus is alive and real, and that he is powerful to bring healing and restoration in his life and in his family.
I’m thrilled to report that our soldier-led Bible studies at two of our COPs are going great.
I sense that God has been preparing the hearts of several other of our warrior saints to take a leadership role in leading our Vintage Jesus Bible studies. One of the COPs we need this to happen is where SSG L. is located.
Thanks for your thoughts and prayers. Thanks for all you do to help preserve our beloved nation. Thanks for what you do every day to keep our nation something worthy of the sacrifice that so many soldiers like SSG L. have made, and continue to make every day.