To a young person going to war?
CH(LTC) Kenneth Stice, USA: Be prepared to live—not just die.
All warriors will be touched by the loss of a comrade–prepare yourself to be hurt (spiritually, emotionally, psychologically, and physically). That preparation includes knowing where you would spend eternity–but also how to cope, adjust, and grow through the trials that combat deployment brings into your life. Get honest with where you are in your spiritual journey.
No one downrange will be impressed with phony posturing. The opportunities to be relevant with your faith will be apparent–and witnessing opportunities will come about naturally, in response to your combat experiences.
CH(MAJ) Mark Fairbrother, USA: Get a grip on God’s grace and what that means so you don’t become self-righteous as you live for the Savior. Get physically fit. Get mentally fit. Remind yourself that you are going to war, which is a form of controlled and channeled violence under authority. The enemy will physically kill you if he has the opportunity; the enemy of your soul will destroy you as well if given the opportunity.
If you are joining the military, God calls you to be nothing short of a warrior. Prepare yourself for what war is all about. This current conflict promises to be a long one, a violent one. Biblical fitness will sustain you.
CH(CPT) Steven Satterfield, USA: Pay attention to your chain of command’s training. It may save yours or someone else’s life. Learn to “suck it up and drive on” for the kingdom of God. You are able to do spiritual warfare (see Ephesians 6) in places others can’t go by praying, reading the Word, worshipping, and appropriately sharing your faith. Consider it comission from God! SS
CH(LtCol) Ron Prosise, USAFR: Be sure your relationship with God is what it should be.
CDR Rick Hamme, CHC, USNR (Ret.): Make sure you are as spiritually ready as you are physically and mentally ready.
CH(MAJ) Marc Gauthier, USA: Work on those relationships that are most important. I encouraged people in my unit to write their last letter–their legacy–and offered to hold the letters while they served in Iraq. I had thirty letters in my care and was pleased that all thirty people returned alive. I didn’t have to deliver any of those letters.
CH(LTC) Fred Robinson, USA (Ret.): Know how to lead another service member to Christ, and look for opportunities to do so. Participate in a local Bible study with other Christians. If there is no study, organize one. Use down time to read or study the Bible. God is sending you downrange for a purpose, so be open to His leading in your life (Proverbs 3:5-6).
To someone being deployed…again?
RP: Trust God’s purpose in your life and accept this as a unique opportunity to be His man/woman.
KS: I have found after four combat tours, the quicker I get my focus off of my apprehension–and onto the needs of others, the quicker I find God’s comfort for my own heart.
SS: Make sure your records are updated to reflect past deployments, so the system is as fair as it can be to you. Share your wealth of knowledge with those who have not deployed. Focus on praising God for the positive opportunities He is going to give you again. Pray that God would penetrate the land to which He is sending you with His glorious and powerful Good News message. If that doesn’t eventually occur, any physical victory is of no long term benefit.
MF: If you are married with a family, get some great family photos taken. Read a daily devotional concurrently with your family members. Write as often as possible. For men especially, get accountable with others in order to avoid the scourge of pornographic material.
FR: Reflect on your last deployment and the things that were most difficult or that brought you down, and take positive steps to avoid or overcome them through wise counsel and better judgment. If married, use the separation to become stronger as a couple by setting goals to read marriage enrichment or spiritual growth books simultaneously. Figure out a way to communicate regularly. Remember that deployment in itself will not make a hurting marriage better or a healthy marriage worse.
MG: As Christians, God promises to supply our needs (Philippians 4:19) and we can hold Him to that. Identify your top needs (i.e. keeping your family strong), then bring those confidently to God.