It Takes This Type of Courage to Foster
‘Operation Strong Eagle II’, an extension of ‘Operation Strong Eagle’ where my battalion fought to push back the Taliban’s stronghold over the Ghaki mountain valley in Kunar province, Afghanistan. Having been successful in ‘Strong Eagle’ at liberating the Marawara and Daridam villages of Ghaki valley. We angered several hundred Taliban fighters and now ventured to push further towards the Pakistan border.
I was standing close to a perfectly good ‘Mine Resistant Ambush Protected’ Vehicle when I was told that I would be taking point (leading) on a mission to clear the valley road of any ‘Improvised Explosive Devices’ for the MRAP’s. I thought that sounded ridiculous and stood there puzzled as I listened to our interpreter tell us what he had just intercepted over enemy radio frequencies. The enemy knew what we were about to do and that they were planning to initiate an ambush with a ‘Dshk (big gun) and an IED.
My platoon sergeant who would be joining me on this mission laughed out loud, turned to me and said “you're not afraid of a Dshk, are you” I laughed to express that I wasn't, but I was absolutely terrified. I then witnessed another higher ranking soldier smile in excitement at his assignment to go close with and destroy the enemy on the mountain peak above us.
Everything inside of me screamed NO, DON’T DO IT! I found myself praying for a broken leg or a non life threatening bullet wound. Either would have been a better alternative to the fate that awaited me. I was so afraid. In that moment I came to define courage for myself. I then understood that courage meant to take action in spite of overwhelming fear.
If I had laid down and quit on my brothers, which I totally wanted to do. Someone else would have had to take my place. So, I picked up my rifle and I walked. I was scared, but I walked. Turns out the IED was a bluff. We had destroyed most of the bad guys in the previous battle. So, we liberated a few more villages that day.
The most Courageous man I knew
A young troubled soldier came to my team right before our deployment he had recently been disciplined because of a failed drug test. Great! I thought. A trouble maker. I put him into the that category before I even met him. He quickly proved my assumption wrong. He was the hardest working young man I had ever met.
He never complained about his work and always did it well. He shared with me in our time together about his child hood. His father was in a gang, and he himself had joined a gang at a young age. The house he was raised in was filled with transient gang members and drug addicts. He told me that his greatest fear was getting pulled back into that culture. That may have been true but one thing he wasn't afraid to face was death.
Before our platoons first major operation the squad leaders were debating on who should carry the 240B machine gun. The 240B weighs 26 pounds empty. Its ammunition is an additional 7 ponds per hundred rounds. It happens to be the most important asset for a light infantry platoon. My new friend was no taller than 5’6” and weighed no more than 120 pounds soaking wet.
Despite his size the squad leaders kept circling back to him as their choice to carry that beast of a gun. So, they called him into their tent and asked him how he felt about the idea of carrying this thing for miles in what was sure to be the biggest battle he had ever faced. He stood at parade rest and with no question answered, Yes. “Of course I will carry it, you can count on me.”
The next morning he received his first purple heart for two gunshot wounds one to the wrist and the other in the back of his thigh. I thought that would be the last time I would see him. I figured he would be sent home and medically retired. There would have been no shame in that. But, he soon returned with a bum wrist. He wanted so badly to serve with his brothers.
When we would conduct mounted operations he would drive. It was about the only thing he could do with his injury. In late 2010 Linda Norgrove was abducted by Taliban and we were called up to take part in the rescue operation. He insisted on coming.
We were flown into the infamous Korengal Valley. We were together in an overwatch position when another squad began taking fire. My friend Frank called over the radio for some assistance. I started to low crawl through the brush towards him, Palu was right with me charging straight into the fight with zero hesitation. His courage that day gave me courage. Another lesson learned. Courage is contagious!
I share these experiences with you because taking the step to foster or adopt or volunteer disrupts our lives in ways we are unfamiliar with. You will lose sleep, your things will get destroyed, your family will question you. All the uncomfortable things you can imagine happening will probably happen. It takes an immense amount of courage. I believe we are called to take action in spite of the overwhelming fear. And, I promise that your courage will be contagious.
This is one passage I think most of us are familiar with where the author writes about his rest and courage in the Lord.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. 5 You prepare a table before men in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever. (Psalm 23:4-6)
So do we really believe that Christ bore our sins on the Cross and rose again so that we might be reconciled to the Father? Isn't that the question here. If we believe that we can have the courage to suffer for the sake of others. We should display more courage than our non Christian friends, should we not?! We have eternity with Christ as our hope.
We are all adopted
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:1–8)
God, the creator of the universe traded his throne for a womb, a manger, a cross, a tomb. Why? So that we could be adopted. You and I are adopted! Praise God! Joseph adopted Jesus as his own. Regardless of the cost. He and Mary had not even married at the time she became pregnant. Most men in our culture would have left. But, Joseph obeyed God and raised Jesus as his own. I love that about God’s design. Jesus was adopted.
Even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will. (Ephesians 1:4-5)
We are all adopted. That is why we call each other brothers and sisters. We have one father who has adopted us through the work of Christ.