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A soldier saved on the tarmac: A story from Afghanistan

Every soldier has a story. Some cannot be shared, others are never told. But the one you’re about to read from CH (CPT) Pete Stone in Afghanistan is one that should be shouted from the mountaintop.

As a chaplain, I’m forever amazed at how Jesus gives us opportunities to share his love, even in the most difficult places. The challenge is being ready when you hear his voice. This soldier’s story I’m about to share with you is overwhelming, but he bravely asked me to share it with you here.

I was standing on the airport tarmac waiting for a helicopter ride back to my base after several days of ministry on the front lines. My ride was late. So I waited. As I did, my senses were rattled by the whine of engines, the thump of helicopter blades, and shouts of men around me.

Amid the chaos, I noticed a young man I had been speaking with for a few months, Staff Sergeant (SSG) Livingston. His home situation is somewhat tragic, largely having to do with a teenage daughter who struggles with severe personality disorders and a wife who is sadly dealing with health issues. 

Livingston is one of our nation’s great soldiers. He has helped provide freedom to us through his staggering five combat deployments in only a few short years. But unlike his previous tours, this one is different. It’s taking a toll on his life that even this seasoned veteran is not used to.

A soldier needs time to recover after deployment. Time to rest. Time to heal and reconnect. But he didn’t have the chance this time around. And with the heartaches of home adding to this burden, this soldier was in need of help.

We spoke briefly, and then he started talking. Once he began, it was like the floodgates opened up. He shared about his troubled childhood, the pain, and still-open wounds. 

After about 40 minutes, I couldn’t take it any more. I was overwhelmed and wanted to find an excuse to walk away, but then I heard God whisper softly in my ear: You’ve been working with this guy for a long time, Pete. You know he’s spiritually sensitive. You’ve earned his trust. This is the right time to ask him what he’s waiting for.

So I listened. I blocked out the noise, took a deep breath and asked him, “What are you waiting for? You are carrying an impossible weight around. When are you going to let Jesus come in, take possession of your life and start handling this for you?” 

I waited for a response. Then he said, “My pop says I need to get saved, but I’m not sure what that really means.”

“This is important,” I said. “I’d love to explain it if you want to listen.” He nodded.

I spent the next 15 minutes explaining a simple faith. I spoke about the good news that Jesus suffered on our behalf, and in return gave us his own righteousness so we could stand justified before God.

“That’s why it’s called grace,” I said. “And the change comes when the life of Jesus becomes your own life. The change will come through his power.”

Livingston listened intently, until we were suddenly interrupted by screams of urgency— “We’ve got a civilian gunshot wound at the gate. We need to get the stretcher out there now!” shouted a medic. Immediately people all around us started to move, grabbing medical supplies and running toward the gates. It was a frantic moment and one that diverted my attention.

But my friend didn’t flinch. He stood firm and barely noticed what was happening around him. So, I continued: “Do you want to have this in your life? Do you want this?”

“Yeah, chappy,” he eagerly replied. “But I don’t know how. What do I do?” We moved around the bunker to a place of privacy. As men around us rushed to save a wounded man’s life, we asked Jesus to save another.

As soon as we finished praying he started sobbing. This warrior . . . this patriot . . . this man of valor . . . this broken family man let Jesus in.

I ask you to please pray for Staff Sergeant Livingston.

  • Pray that the enemy will not rob the seed that has been sown.
  • Please pray for his heart to be good soil.
  • Please pray that the Spirit will cause this gospel seed to take deep, nourishing root in his heart and result in a transformed life.
  • Please pray for demonstrations of the Spirit’s power to confirm for him that Jesus is alive and real, and that he is powerful to bring healing and restoration in his life and in his family.
  • Pray specifically for men to take a leadership role in our Vintage Jesus Bible studies, especially at the location where Livingston is located.

Prayers and support from the Mars Hill family are so critical to our military ministry. I’m thrilled to tell you that thanks to your prayers, God is growing our soldier-led Bible studies and saving souls.

Mars Hill family, thanks for all you do to help preserve our beloved nation. Thanks for what you do every day to keep our nation something worthy of the sacrifice that so many soldiers like Livingston have made, and continue to make every day. 

In Christ,
Pete

CH (CPT) Pete Stone is a chaplain and friend of Mars Hill Church reaching our brothers and sisters in the military for Christ in Afghanistan.

We thank all our veterans for your sacrifice and courage. We are indebted and grateful for your service, and we are praying for you.

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