Prior to our deployment, I asked the officers, noncommissioned officers, and soldiers of the 1st Squadron, 10th Cavalry to meet together and pray for a safe and successful operation. They answered the call in large numbers, with over 400 turning out for a prayer breakfast dedicated to an appeal to God for safety and protection for the troopers and their families. I read a passage from Ephesians 6:13, the Apostle Paul’s commandment to “put on the full armor of God” in order to stand your ground against the sin of this world.
The message was clear. Our unit could–and would–protect our positions with sandbags, barbed wire, and guard posts, but unless we appealed to the Lord for his mercy and protection, we would be defenseless in the day of evil. King Solomon put it another way when he said, “Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain” (Psalm 127:1).
Deployments are not a modern phenomenon, nor is God’s promise of protection during such travels. When the Lord told Abraham to move to the Promised Land of Canaan, God promised protection and blessings along the way. When Moses brought the Israelites out of Egypt, the Lord went ahead of them in a cloud to guide their way in the day and in a pillar of fire to give them light at night.
Our journey took us to the middle of a vast desert in Kuwait, ironically, less than 200 miles from Ur of the Chaldeans, the birthplace of Abraham. The soldiers quipped that if we weren’t in the middle of nowhere, you could certainly see it from our camp. The desert is a demanding environment–physically, mentally, and spiritually. In the vast, harsh, open spaces of the desert, people may discover things about themselves that would otherwise be lost in the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
The Christian community in our task force grew very close. We lived together, trained together, and most importantly, prayed together. By our example we also attracted others to the faith, with sixteen soldiers accepting the sacrament of Baptism in a moving ceremony in the desert one memorable Sunday.