Thursday, January 8, 2009

God on the Front Lines: A Testimony from Iraq

January 7 2009

A special reader letter from Army Staff Sergeant Michael Cumming, who is currently serving in Iraq, describes how God is at work even in the most horrible of circumstances.

I've been a reader of New Man for years and have found lots of encouragement in the articles. I'm a staff sergeant in the Army, currently serving another go-round in Iraq and have been going to seminary with hopes of getting out and becoming a young-adults pastor. I wanted to write and share a story from the front lines.

A young soldier came to me about a year before our last deployment. As I got to know him, I found out he was from a missionary family and was running as far from God as he could.

Over the time I knew him we had many discussions about faith and God. He was convinced that God was real and was the only way to heaven. But he always said he wasn't ready to give up the strip clubs, the drinking and all the other things of the world that he was caught up in. He would tell me he was having too much fun sinning to give it up yet.

When we got to Iraq, I felt like God told me that before we came home this young soldier would be saved. I felt so strongly about this that I even called his parents back in the United States to let them know.

About two months after that, we were in a big firefight. This soldier was shot in the chest, and we had to medevac him out. We found out that he died about two hours later on the operating table.

I felt so defeated and let down by God, initially, after this because I was so sure he would be saved before we left Iraq. I called my pastor in the U.S. and talked to him about it, and he told me this was one of those times I had to leave it all in God's hands—and he reminded me that I didn't know what might have happened before the soldier died.

About a week after this, another one of my soldiers—who had been injured in a previous incident—went to the hospital so he could be put back on full duty and rejoin us. While he was at the hospital, he had an opportunity to talk to the flight surgeon who worked on my friend. He asked the surgeon if the soldier had said any last words he could tell us about.

The surgeon said an amazing thing happened. He said that he heard the young soldier clearly say, with a tracheotomy in his throat and above the roar of the helicopter: "Tell Mike I know God."

This made the whole deployment to Iraq worth it to me. It also drove home the fact that I can't afford the risk of not sharing the gospel with anyone.

Thanks for taking the time to read my story.

Mike Cummings
Staff Sergeant
United States Army

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