Thousands of Soldiers Request Bibles
- Angie Vineyard Research Fellow, Beverly LaHaye Institute
- 2003 3 Mar
Thousands of U.S. troops continue to sweep across Iraq, as oil fires burn and hundreds of Iraqi soldiers surrender to coalition forces. The White House is in war mode, the country is on high alert and thousands of Americans are on their knees praying for troops, their commander in chief and the Iraqi people.
America is at war.
Every soldier has been trained for this fight. Along with their gas masks and gear, some have carried pictures of loved ones into battle. Others have taken letters from spouses and parents with them. But a growing number of our troops are carrying something else - something far more valuable - to bring them comfort and encouragement on their mission. Right now, thousands are holding onto an RDK, or Rapid Deployment Kit.
Packaged simply in a ziploc bag, the RDK's have a small booklet titled, "Would You Like to Know God Personally," a camouflaged New Testament with Psalms and the Proverbs, and a 90-day devotional guide.
Made possible by the Military Ministry, a division of Campus Crusade for Christ, the RDK's have been so popular that nearly 400,000 have been distributed since 9-11.
"I find the spiritual dimension of one's life extremely important in the armed forces...and certainly with soldiers protecting our freedom, going into harm's way," said Brig. Gen. Dick Abel, USAF (Ret.), who heads up Military Ministry. "The reality of death for a young person becomes quite apparent when you're going into battle. If you have faith in Christ, that gives you peace that passes all understanding, even in the midst of the storm or the battle."
Gen. Abel knows quite a bit about battles. The former Air Force pilot flew in Vietnam and retired after nearly 30 years in the service. Then in 1992, Dr. Bill Bright, head of Campus Crusade for Christ, asked Gen. Abel to assume the helm of Military Ministry.
Commanding a staff of 20 across the country, Gen. Abel does more than just organize RDK distribution. He oversees military campus ministries at major military schools like the Citadel and Texas A&M. He works with chaplains who provide spiritual guidance and training to soldiers at places like Lackland Air Force Base and Fort Jackson. And he oversees small-group Bible studies and marriage seminars at other military installations and spends a great deal of time ministering to the families of soldiers who have been deployed.
Along with RDK's, the ministry also makes chaplain boxes available. These kits include a "Jesus" video, a three-part video series called "God and the Military - How You Can Be a Christian and Bare Arms," sports videos and written materials on combating pornography and holding down the home fort when a spouse has been deployed.
Aundrea Foskett calls the RDK's "an amazing tool for our chaplains." She should know. Her husband, Lt. Michael Foskett serves as a U.S. naval chaplain for the 2nd Battalion 7th Marines. Stationed at Marine Corps Air Combat Center in Twenty Nine Palms, Calif., Lt. Foskett requested more than 500 RDKS before being deployed to Okinawa, Japan last August.
"He used them up very quickly,' said Aundrea, "so I can't imagine how fast they must be going over in the Gulf Region right now."
Requests from commanders, chaplains, soldiers, sailors and airmen continue to flood Gen. Abel's office.
"I was sort of overwhelmed by it," he said. "We sent out 400,000 prior to the war. We have orders for 40,000 and many of those are from the war zone."
Just this past week, a piece of cardboard arrived in the mail from a marine with a scrawled message requesting Bibles.
"I have a Bible...but the guys in my unit don't have any," it read. "Can you send [Bibles] over?"
"Immediately we sent them over," said Gen. Abel.
Gen. Abel also gets thank-you letters - from Dave Eberly, an F-15 pilot who was held prisoner in Desert Storm - and other grateful soldiers.
Stationed at Incirlik, Turkey, an air base that houses 50 U.S. fighters, Joan Momany wrote a note of thanks for "Daily Bread" devotionals.
"Many are coming to the Lord and renewing their commitment to Him during this time," she wrote. "You are a part of that. God bless you and your ministry."
No one knows how long the war will last. But as U.S. troops continue to barrel into Baghdad to oust Saddam Hussein and liberate the Iraqi people, Gen. Abel will continue to distribute the Gospel of Christ to thousands of soldiers - some desperate to be spiritually liberated - with a message of hope.
For more information, visit www.milmin.com or call (800)444-6006, ext. 277.
Angie Vineyard is a Research Fellow with the Beverly LaHaye Institute. Along with Janice Shaw Crouse, Senior Fellow, she publishes "FEMFACTS: Women's Issues From A Feminine Perspective." Visit beverlylahayeinstitute.org or cwfa.org