Several years ago Jeff Strueker was a US Army Ranger posted in Mogadishu, Somalia. Today he is a master of divinity student at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY.
For him Oct 3-4, 1993 were the defining moments of his life. He was one of the troops called on to go into the center Mogadisu to secure a building as part of a larger operation. The movie “Black Hawk Down” came out about a year ago chronicling the events of those two days.
In the first trip into the city he and most of his friends got out through a hailstorm of bullets. One man was shot and killed. It was then that he felt the fear. He began to pray. The humvee was painted with blood as they escaped the city with their dead and wounded comrades.
The news soon worsened. A helicopter was shot down. The team received orders to return to the melee. Yet, his men understandably couldn’t fight in the bloody humvees. Struecker spent the next 30 to 45 minutes cleaning. No running water. Only sponges and buckets.
"I began to talk to the Lord. I thought I was going to die," he said. Feeling his fear grow, he began to ask God to protect him. But his prayer soon changed.
"I’ll never forget this for the rest of my life. ... A scene appeared in the landscape of my mind. The scene was Jesus in the Garden. ... He clearly and honestly knew that he was going to die. ... He also showed that he did not want to go to that cross and die. And I knew that I didn’t want to die that night. But Jesus courageously said, ’God, not my will, but yours be done.’
"If I die tonight, that’s fine, as long as your will is done," Struecker said. For the first time in his life, Struecker -- who had been a Christian since age 13 -- was prepared to die. "God spoke to my mind and my heart and said, ’I’ve been protecting you every day of your life,’" Struecker said. "He did not tell me, ’You will live through the night.’ He simply showed me my life has always been in his hands."
Struecker and his men returned to the field of fire in Mogadishu that night and fought with a God-given courage. The sergeant first class would later be awarded the Bronze Star Medal "V" for valor. "I fought differently that night than everybody else ... because of my faith," Struecker said. God had given him a "supernatural peace" in the midst of pandemonium, further firefights and an ambush that nearly blew his humvee off the road.
"I began to understand God’s omnipotent power," Struecker said. "He was orchestrating every single bullet that was fired that night. ... The peace that I had was not only for my own life, but for the lives of my soldiers. If any of them were to get shot, then that was part of God’s sovereign plan." And God chose to preserve Struecker that night.
Related Text Illustrations
Contributed by Stephen Fournier on Dec 8, 2000
One day, a little girl is sitting and watching her mother do the dishes at the kitchen sink. She suddenly notices that her mother has several strands of white hair sticking out in contrast on her brunette head. "Why are some of your hairs white, Mom?" she asks. Her mother replies, "Well, every time ...read more
Contributed by Tim Zingale on Dec 11, 2000
Dr. William Sloan Coffin of New York’s Riverside Church said this in the April 20,1984 Lutheran Standard after the death of his son, Alex."The night after Alex died, I was sitting in the living room of my sister’s house outside of Boston, when a middle-aged lady came in, shook her head ...read more
Contributed by Tim Zingale on Dec 12, 2000
Remember the opening scene: the village and you see a fiddler on the roof and Tevye says:"A fiddler on the roof. Sounds crazy, no? but in our little village of Anatevka, you might say every one of us is a fiddler on the roof, trying to scratch out a pleasant, simple tune without breaking his neck. ...read more
Contributed by Tony Fox on Dec 12, 2000
ILL: This is an alleged New Year’s letter written from a church member to the pastor. Dear Pastor: You often stress attendance at worship as being very important for a Christian, but I think a person has a right to miss now and then. I think every person ought to be excused for the ...read more
Contributed by Owen Bourgaize on Oct 18, 2000
Polycarp, the bishop of Smyrna was brought before the Roman authorities and told to curse Christ and he would be released. He replied, "Eighty-six years have I served him, and he has done me no wrong: how then can I blaspheme my king who saved me?" The Roman officer replied, "Unless you change ...read more
Contributed by Jose R. Hernandez on Oct 18, 2000
We will be exploring what happened with David and Goliath. The reason why I want us to explore this historical event is because when I was searching for a theme for this week, I read this historical event, and it became very clear to me that the events t