America was girding for war.

 

"Morale seemed pretty low, with some of the soldiers leaving home for the very first time," said Anderson. "So we started meeting three times a week out under the sky, right beside our Humvees. When it would rain, we'd just stay inside the jeeps during services."

 

They have prayed together ever since, whether in Kuwait or Iraq -- Bible study Wednesday nights, unity prayers on Friday nights and regular services Sunday mornings. Anderson said they did this even during the MP company's toughest times back in Gharma. "We needed it then more than ever."

 

Last Sunday, some members of the 1166th opted to drive eight miles over to the other side of the Baghdad airport to attend services at Camp Slayer. Among them was 41-year-old Anthony Roney, an officer with the Alabama Marine Police.

 

Roney is shy about discussing his religion, but says that war got him thinking more about God.

 

"It's not just because of the stress here, but your family back home," he said before leaving for the service. "I worry more about them than I do about me." He and his wife have three children ages 12, 9 and 6.

 

For Roney and the other MPs with the Thomasville and Greensboro-based 1166th, this war is far from over. Their current assignment is to provide escorts and security for the Iraqi Survey Group, special teams hunting for weapons of mass destruction. These missions take them to the most dangerous quarters of the country.

 

On this Sunday morning, the MPs said they hoped they're in the prayers of the folks back home.

 

Mike Marshall is editor of the Mobile (Ala.) Register. He can be contacted at mmarshall@mobileregister.com.

 

Copyright 2003 Religion News Service

 

PHOTO: A religious sign adorns the front of a Humvee belonging to the Alabama National Guard's 1166th Military Police Company in Iraq. Photo by Mike Marshall.