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. I CLOSE A LETTER EMAILED TO ME. IT IS FROM A SOLDIER IN IRAQ, WHO WROTE HIS MOTHER ABOUT HIS SEARCH FOR SALVATION: “DEAR MOM, I AM FINE, BUT I LOST MY BEST FRIEND TODAY IN AN AMBUSH AND THE ONLY WAY I CAN EXPLAIN TO YOU WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO ME, IS TO TELL YOU THIS STORY: IMAGINE YOU ARE CRAWLING, NEAR-DEATH, ACROSS A HOT SCORCHING DESERT AND YOU ARE DYING OF THIRST AND CLOSE TO PERISHING, AND SUDDENLY YOU SEE A SIGN THAT READS, “COOL, CLEAR, LIFE-GIVING WATER - ONLY FIVE MILES AHEAD”. THIS SIGN GIVES YOU RENEWED ENERGY, AND NEW HOPE SO YOU CONTINUE YOUR TORMENTING CRAWL ACROSS THE PARCHED SAND. AS YOU ARRIVE AT THE PROMISED PLACE, YOU SEE A MAGNIFICENT BUILDING AND THE SIGN OUTSIDE INVITES YOU IN, WITH THE PROMISE OF LIFE-GIVING WATER. SO YOU CRAWL THROUGH THE ENTRANCE AND THERE BEFORE YOU IS THE PROMISED WELL, WITH THE BUCKET READY TO BE LET DOWN AND FILLED WITH WATER TO QUENCH YOUR THIRST, AND TO POUR LIFE BACK INTO YOUR BODY. WITH THE LAST BIT OF YOUR STRENGTH, YOU LOWER THE BUCKET INTO THE WELL, EXPECTING A SPLASH AS THE BUCKET HITS THE WATER, BUT IT NEVER COMES. BUT THE ONLY SOUND YOU HEAR, IS THE DISAPPOINT THUD OF THE BUCKET HITTING THE BOTTOM. YOU THINK THAT PERHAPS YOU ARE DELIRIOUS, SO YOU REEL IN THE BUCKET ONLY TO FIND IT FULL OF DUST. DUST THAT CANNOT QUENCH YOUR THIRST, IT ONLY DEEPENS THE THIRST AND DESTROYS ALL HOPE. THIS IS HOW I FELT, TRYING TO FIND GOD, BEFORE I CAME TO THIS GOD FORSAKEN PLACE. WHEN I WAS BACK IN THE STATES, YOU REMEMBER HOW I WENT FROM CHURCH TO CHURCH EXPECTING TO BE FILLED AND FED WITH THE WATER, AND BREAD OF LIFE, AND ALL I WAS FILLED WITH, WAS THE SANDS OF PSYCHO-BABBLE AND SELF-HELP RHETORIC. IT SEEMS STRANGE THAT I HAD TO COME ALL THE WAY TO SAUDER CITY IRAQ, GET AMBUSHED, WATCH MY BEST FRIEND DIE AND IN HIS FINAL WORDS, HE TOLD ME HOW TO BE SAVED. MOM, IS THERE NO HELP AND NO HOPE FOR THOSE PEOPLE IN THE STATES, DYING OF SPIRITUAL THIRST, WHO’VE MADE THEIR WAY TO THOSE BUILDINGS CALLED CHURCHES??”

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