Last Updated on April 13, 2023 by OCF Communications

Episode 002 show notes

Sometimes the storms of life can be metaphorical, such as a difficult deployment, move, or career transition. However, there are those times when the storms of life refer to literal storms. Such was the case for our guest today, LT James Rader, USCG, as he took part in search-and-rescue efforts during Hurricane Harvey this past August.

Harvey made U.S. landfall as a Category 4 hurricane on August 26 along the Texas Gulf Coast, where it lingered near Houston for several days, dumping over 50 inches of rain in some locations and killing at least 89 people.

The storm moved out of the area on August 30, but it left some 30,000 people displaced, and more 185,000 homes damaged by some estimates, making it the costliest tropical cyclone on record.

OCF Managing Editor Karen Fliedner chatted with LT Rader about his experiences during Hurricane Harvey, how God was at work during the storm, and advice that LT Rader would give his younger self in an episode we’ve titled, “Navigating the storms…at the intersection of faith, family, and profession.”

Opportunities LT Rader saw in the aftermath

During the storm, they were so focused on the mission, but after the storm, he had the chance to look back at what they’d been through and how God was there.

This created chances to talk about God and how He was at work during a disaster like this.

LT Rader shares a story about an instance when they had just departed a hospital at night after getting a patient to surgery when a sudden downdraft pushed their helicopter violently toward the ground. The gust forced them to make difficult maneuvers between several buildings and a parking lot with little clearance. He attributes their success in navigating the urban terrain to God, but it’s a notion he admits is tough for some to reconcile: “People want to attribute it to our ability as operators or pilots, but it wasn’t me and it wasn’t the helicopter. We were kind of in a bad way there. I feel that God pulled us out of it and kept us safe.”

He also mentioned a story shared with him by a co-worker, who ventured out during the storm to help a stranded friend. The heavy rain made seeing the road nearly impossible and driving even more treacherous. But then, his friend told him the rain suddenly stopped and there was this “hole in the rain where he could finally see.” What that let him see is that he was about to drive off the road into a deep gulch. “It was neat that he shared with me that he saw God in that experience.”

So, where was God in all of this?

“I don’t feel like that would cross your mind if you were someone who went through it. From the outside looking in, it’s easy to say ‘How could God let that happen?’

“But then when you’re the one going through it, it wasn’t ‘how could He let that happen,’ it was ‘how amazing is He for keeping us safe.’”

And then to see all of the good being done in the aftermath and recovery efforts, and the stories being told, and people sharing Jesus and coming to faith in Him… there’s all these doors being opened because of a storm. “So where was God in this? He was right in the middle of it.”

What he would tell his younger self with regards to faith, family, and profession:

Faith: Be intentional about your faith and be determined to stay in fellowship and accountability with brothers and sisters wherever you may be stationed. Stay plugged in, and don’t try to do life alone. Being intentional about faith means making things like church attendance and fellowship “non-negotiable” items in your life and praying to God about these things. “If you just say, I’ll do my best and try to find a church, you might not do it. I think that was part of what kept me plugged in at OCF while I was at the academy. I made that a non-negotiable with myself.”

Family: Don’t neglect your family, and try to keep them as involved as possible. James says there have been times when he’s failed in doing this and has justified his actions by saying, “They might not understand what I’m going through. I think the correct response would be that they don’t have to understand, but they still should know what struggles you have and what you’re going through.” It might not mean sharing all of the details of a traumatic event, but it would mean sharing that you have some struggles because of an experience.

Profession: Your profession isn’t your identity. If you have an exciting job that people love to hear about, then it can be easy to let that become who you are. “Making sure your identity isn’t in your profession is very important.” It’s also important to set the proper priorities to help establish your true identity—your priorities should drive your decisions. Your outlook every day should be that you are a child of God and an ambassador. “It’s a privilege and I love what I do. More and more I’m trying not to place my identity in what I do.”

Books mentioned by LT Rader (no affiliated links):

Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus: A Devout Muslim Encounters Christianity: Nabeel Qureshi describes his dramatic journey from Islam to Christianity, complete with friendships, investigations, and supernatural dreams along the way.

Generous Justice: How God’s Grace Makes Us Just: It is commonly thought in secular society that the Bible is one of the greatest hindrances to doing justice. Isn’t it full of regressive views? Didn’t it condone slavery? Why look to the Bible for guidance on how to have a more just society? But Timothy Keller challenges these preconceived beliefs and presents the Bible as a fundamental source for promoting justice and compassion for those in need.

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OCF Crosspoint is a podcast produced by Officers' Christian Fellowship and is dedicated to sharing stories of military life at the intersection of faith, family, and profession.

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