It was a simple question, posed by a loving pastor who was valiantly trying to minister to a far-away soldier in Afghanistan. It was asked in an e-mail on the eve of America’s birthday, just a couple of weeks ago. “As a believer in Jesus, what does the freedom of this country and the price paid to obtain and preserve it mean to you?”
Joe Novenson, the pastor of the Lookout Mountain Presbyterian Church, was hardly ready for the reply he soon received from Manda Rogers, a Marine Corps captain, who this minute is actively fighting with other Marines in a hostile land.
Please allow me to share with you, your children and anyone else who loves our God and our country. What follows is Captain Rogers’ reply:
“I am going to compare and contrast the United States Marine Corps with Christianity and hopefully be able to paint a bigger, more comprehensible picture for you all.
“Contrary to popular belief, the Marine Corps and Christianity are similar in multiple ways. We will start with recruiting. Many people want to be or become Marines, but it is taking that first step of sitting down with a recruiter and finding out more about the Corps.
“Next, after one has sat down with a recruiter and wants to join now he or she must go through boot camp/OCS. “We didn’t promise you a rose garden.” Being a Christian we were not promised a rose garden while on earth just like Marine Corps training.
“Not all will make it through training, just like not all will stick with Christianity. Those who do receive a title that will not be taken away from them – U.S. Marine just like wearing the title Christian. Now, you have a title that people love or hate, but you have now been set apart from your peers and a lot is now expected of you whether you like it or not.
“As we deploy and live in other countries we are held to higher standards and great things are expected from us. Many countries will “attack” us in order to see how we will react to their actions.
“A prime example is when we were in Iraq one unit was on a convoy and was attacked by the Taliban. After intense fighting there were many wounded Marines and the rounds were still coming down range. A corpsman was fireman, carrying the wounded through the firefight to a Phrog (CH-46) that was going to Medevac the wounded.
“After dropping off the fifth Marine he runs back through the firefight and grabs the next wounded guy he sees. This wounded person was not a Marine or a sailor, but it was actually an enemy combatant. He ran back through the firefight to the chopper and, while he was dodging bullets, an Aussie yelled out, “Why are you carrying an enemy combatant?”
“Without slowing down he yells back, “That is what we do.” The corpsman could have easily left this man or he could have finished him off with his own weapon, but he didn’t. He got him out of the fight, got him to safety and was able to have him treated for his wounds.
“Unlike other countries or other people we are a breed apart because we are willing to help any and all.
“Here in Afghanistan, our mission is to win the hearts and minds of the people just like a Christian would. We are doing a lot of humanitarian-type missions in lieu of closing with and destroying the enemy. Our job is to help this war-torn nation and show them our “other” side per se.
“The locals see us as “different” because we are willing to help them when and where we can.
“Hopefully you are able to see the similarities between the two - I did not mention Christianity every time, but I figured you could see the similarities when I simply mentioned the Marine Corps. I am biased. I know.
“Now to answer your question (hopefully). “As a believer in Jesus, what does the freedom of this country and the price paid to obtain and preserve it mean to you?” It means a lot. Being over here and being with these people who have known nothing but war for the past however many years we have it pretty easy.
“We come over here, then come home, then come back over here, and go back home. Home to a “cush” life paid for by those who have gone before (WWI and II, Korea, Viet Nam, etc.) as well as Christians. War is what these people know. They know no peace.
“The price that we have to pay in order to help these people reach that state of peace is minimal compared to the eventual end-state that we will hopefully be able to see. The price paid to preserve what we have is similar to the price that Christ paid for us by dying on the cross.
“He did it out of love just like we do what we do out of love for our God, country, and Corps. Those who have never experienced war do not truly understand what they have, just like as Christians those who have never dealt with any type of trial do not fully understand who and what they are and what they represent.
“I hope this answers your question and makes sense. If not please let me know and I will stay off the soap box, and adjust my fire, to give you what you are looking for.