All Americans have some interest in the present war in Iraq. Some have a deeper and more personal interest since they have members of their own family serving in this present struggle to establish an effective democracy in a far-away place. It is relatively easy for people to debate the merits, or demerits, of this conflict so long as they are not personally touched by the tragedy and the daily dangers of death.

Yesterday I had lunch with a dear friend of mine, a Wheaton College classmate, and also member of my advisory team. His son took up duties in Iraq almost three weeks ago as the executive officer of a company of about 150 men in the Baghdad area. He is, in other words, part of the much debated “surge.” My friend thinks of his son every moment of every day. When we met for lunch yesterday we talked about Stephen, what news he has heard (very little) and how he is doing in this dangerous place. All parents live with the reality that their children could be taken from them at any moment but most of us do not think about this night and day. My friend does. His life is deeply touched by Iraq. He also believes in the mission of Iraq and wishes the Congress would not undermine our efforts by cthese onstant debates about resolutions concerning the war. Either we should be in it to win it or we should not be in it at all, period. 

But Stephen went to Iraq because he loves Christ and his country. He wants to make a difference in the world and he wants to be a faithful Christian doing so. And he wants to live with integrity before his men. This, in fact, is his burning passion. He is outspoken about his life’s purpose and his love for Christ. He has done this throughout his Army experience, beginning with ROTC and right through the various forms of training he experienced before heading to Iraq. Recently Stephen laminated Psalm 91 as a bookmark and began to give these out to his men. Over half of them have taken the bookmarks. He may soon lead a Bible study as well. 

Pray for my friend and for his dear son, Stephen. There are thousands of men and women in Iraq who are Christians but there are few with the background, training and Christian home that Stephen had throughout his life. He is truly living in harm’s way 24/7. This has all made me think very carefully and often about the ultimate cost of war. And it makes me truly pray for those who serve, especially for those I know personally. If you talk to those who serve you will find out, in very high percentages, that they believe their mission is important and just. So do I.

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