Wednesday, January 25, 2012

War Hero.

As you read this know that I'm not saying one way or the other how I feel about  America being in war. I'm only telling the story of one man, John.

I sat next to him on a plane ride from Texas to Seattle. We were only a couple sentences into a seemingly shallow conversation when John began to tell me what the life of a war hero is really like. His eyes shouted with brokenness as he shared his story. 

When John leaves for war he leaves his entire family behind. He has a 2 year old. They hardly know each other. His job on the battlefield is to go before the rest of his team to make sure that there are no bombs on the road. This means that he drives up and down roads, waiting to get blown up. He says, "I'm not scared of death anymore. I'm pretty numb to both death and life." For John life is only an existence that awaits death and the close whisper of death never fades away.  

To train for this type of life, John and his wife (who is also in the military) had to go through a required form of torture.  They are brought up into the mountains as they undergo real life torture. No food, no water, and constant beatings.  They were forced to do things like curl up in a small box that was filled almost to the top with water. They were left only enough room to stick their lips out of the water to breath. They were stripped naked. John said that when the uniform is stripped away, men begin to break down in tears. Without the uniform they feel like they have no identity and they can't find a purpose or motivation to help them fight through the torture. 

"We are trained to kill," John said. "It really doesn't blow my mind when people get back from war and kill their families, their friends, or random people who look at them wrong on the streets." They are use to killing people who make them angry. If somebody looks at you wrong in Afghanistan, you shoot them. John's eyes were filled with horror stories. His heart was obviously ripped up the shreds as he told story after story. He said over and over, "I have done so many bad things." He sat beside me and questioned the "Thin line between feeling honored for protecting my country, and broken because of all the bad stuff I had to do to people to keep it that way." In the midst of war, morality and necessity seemed to blur for John. 

My heart broke. So I did all that I could think to do, I told him about Jesus.

John said that he knew and believed in Jesus but he was unsure about what "Saved" meant.  I shared with him what it means to be saved by Jesus Christ and how He had done it for me already. John stared at me as if he actually believed what I was saying (which was really refreshing...a lot of people just stare at me like I'm a crazy person). He kept nodding his head and randomly smiling as he obviously reminisced on something from his past. After I was finished he said, "Yeah, that's what I did when I was 17. I just didn't know it had a name." John began to tell me the story of his salvation. 

Despite his salvation experience, John admitted that he was not growing in his relationship with God. "I don't feel like I have a purpose on this earth, besides being blown up."When he said those words, the holy spirit began to move as I told John about God's incredible plan and purpose for his life. I encouraged John as bluntly as I could to read his bible, to go to church, and to pray. I told John that his purpose on this earth was to fall in love with Jesus, to let Jesus love him, and to lead his family to the cross. Again, John listened as if he believed in what I was saying.

 John was unsure about most things in his life. Life. Death. Morality. War. Necessity. Family. But when it came to the moment that he spent before God at 17, things made perfect sense to him. I tried as hard as possible to remind John that all of these other things will only begin to make sense when he looks at them through the light of the cross.

 I don't know the end of this story. After 4 hours of talking, the plane landed. We shook hands and we got off. All I know is that John looked more hopeful after being reminded about Jesus than he did when we first got on the plane. 

1 comment:

  1. What a sad, sad story. God placed you there at just the right time to remind this man about His love and His grace. So glad you are willing to be His servant :)