Mars Hill Global supports U.S. troops deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan by providing resources like copies of Pastor Mark’s book Vintage Jesus to young soldiers. Counseled by our faithful partner on the ground, Captain Pete Stone, these men are growing in Christ amid the horror of war. Captain Stone sends us this message from Forward Operating Base (FOB) Falcon, just outside Baghdad.
War is hell
This is the story of Chris. He’s a solider, a hero and warrior for Jesus.
When Chris first arrived in Baghdad, he knew things were going to be much different than the first six uneventful months of his deployment.
The condition of the unit he was in was startling: their Humvees were blackened from explosions and pocked with shrapnel. The windshields were riddled with bullet holes, and the uniforms shredded and filthy.
On their first mounted patrol, their Humvee was hit by two improvised explosive devices (IEDs), gravely injuring both the lieutenant and interpreter. Chris picked the lieutenant out of the rubble and dragged him into the vehicle, then the interpreter after him. Bullets bounced off the vehicle as Chris and the driver returned to the first checkpoint to get medical help for the two injured men.
Chris opened the door and was shouting at the soldiers at the checkpoint to call for medical help. The soldiers just stood there, staring. In the mayhem, Chris had never even noticed that the platoon leader was already dead, injured beyond recognition. This was Chris’ first introduction to combat.
But things got worse. Soon afterward, Chris was in another vehicle was hit by yet another IED. By God’s grace, he survived. It was at this point, though, that he began using the painkiller Percocet just to cope. The final blow, though, came three months later when, during a severe firefight with the enemy, Chris found his close friend dead, his body burnt and mangled.
A marriage that won’t mend
By this point, Chris was suffering from a traumatic brain injury (TBI) from the blast concussions and was losing his memory. His body was in perpetual pain from various shrapnel wounds. He couldn’t function any longer and was evacuated to Germany for treatment.
He wanted comfort and reached out to his family. But his eventual reunion with his wife was not what he expected. The one person that he counted on to help ended up rejecting him. Despite his efforts to make the marriage work, it disintegrated into divorce.
At this point he lost all hope in God. Alcohol, Percocet, and rage were his constant companions during the day, and nightmares were always present at night.
Saved to Christ in the midst of combat
It was in this long, dark tunnel that Chris turned to a local Army chaplain for help.
Through the assistance of that chaplain and another soldier, Chris found Jesus.
With the encouragement of his chaplain, his new church, and a new Christian family, Chris came to understand that his life did not have to be defined by the pain of his past, but instead by Jesus taking the pain and sin on himself in Chris’ place.
Today, Chris mentors and shape the lives of young soldiers in combat. He is currently deployed in eastern Afghanistan.
Chris is very much a part of the Mars Hill extended family. He prays with you, walks with you and is also leading a Vintage Jesus Bible study with a fellow soldiers with resources provided by Mars Hill Global.
For this soldier, the trauma of combat was part of the journey to a new life in Christ. Please pray for him and that Jesus’ peace and enduring love will shine through the men he serves, not just on the battlefield of war, but on the battlefield of life.
Mars Hill Global and our extended family in places like Afghanistan need your prayers and support. Please visit marshill.com/global to partner with us as together we make disciples and plant churches, around the world.
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