The Call to Serve
Each year, on November 11th, a special day is set aside for this purpose of honoring those who have served in the armed forces. Veteran’s Day is always important to remember, but is especially so because we are a nation at war. As we sit in a comfortably at home in Washington there are Americans in uniform in Afghanistan and around the world who are quite literally pouring out their lives for the sake of our freedom. They are serving as a part of the Global War on Terrorism. This war is serious stuff for many families and should be for each one of us.
We have lost 6,636 soldiers, sailors, Marines, airmen and guardians in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and 49,715 have been wounded in action. To put this in perspective the number of service members wounded is greater than the population of Olympia. To some of us these are merely statistics. To others of us these are sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers. They deploy to the Central Command theater of operations to fight terrorism in an “away game” so that we do not have to play a “home game”.
I want to tell you about two of these people who have responded to the call to serve. The Chief of Naval Operations visited Iraq a while back. He says:
… I ran into a Navy doctor by the name of Saleem Khan during another trip to Iraq. Khan is a reservist. He was 59 years old at the time, with 18 years in the Navy. Raised in Pakistan, he can read Arabic and speak Persian. He was on his fifth tour in Iraq. On the day I visited him he was trying to save the life of an insurgent who only an hour or so before had been trying to kill our Marines. Khan said it was his job to save that life, and he was proud to do it. A reporter who was traveling with us asked him why he joined the Navy at age 40. He said, and I quote: “I never wanted anybody to look at me and say, ‘Hey, you came over here and made a lot of money and you didn’t pay your dues. My kids were born in the United States. I want them to know their father paid his dues."
Let me also tell you about Justin Hunt.
Justin wanted desperately to get into the Armed Forces of the United States. He tried the Army and they wouldn’t accept him. He tried the Navy and they wouldn’t accept him. Then he went to see the Marine Corps recruiter. You see Justin had a serious problem. The Marine Corps scale only went to 350 pounds and Justin pegged it there. The Marine Recruiter in Riverside County, California, Staff Sgt. Zach Delellis, did not turn him away. He asked Justin how badly he wanted to be a Marine. The recruiter told him that if he really wanted to be a Marine he could get up early in the very early in the morning come and PT with the Marines at the Recruiting Station. Justin showed up that first day and began to run with the Marines, day after day after day – for the next year! And a year after he started to run the Recruiter put him on the scale and he weighed in at 207, two pounds under the maximum limit for a new recruit. So Justin got into the Marine Corps. He made it through boot camp and then he was sent to the war in Iraq.
Lance Corporal Justin T. Hunt died as result of enemy action in Al Anbar Province, Iraq on July 6, 2004. He was assigned to 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. He was 22 years old.
He died doing what he wanted most to do in the service of his country.
Now some of you may be asking what can I do. Well there are a couple of things you can do.
The Bible tells us a story about Moses. He was leading his people into war.
In Exodus 17:8-13.
8 The Amalekites came and attacked the Israelites at Rephidim. 9 Moses said to Joshua, “Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands.” 10 So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. 11 As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. 12 When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset. 13 So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.
At this time in the history of our great nation we need you to be an Aaron and a Hur. We need you to hold up the hands of those who are in leadership that we may be successful in our struggle.
Your nation needs you to pray. We need you to pray for the families like that of Lance Corporal Justin T. Hunt who lost his life. They need God’s comfort. We need you to pray for the soldiers, sailors, Marines, airmen and Coastguardsmen who have also been through difficult things and now struggle with what they have experienced. We need you to pray for the safety of those currently deployed and their families. We need to you pray for the graduates of King’s High School who have chosen to pour themselves out in this way. We need you to pray for guidance for our President and military leaders. We need you to pray for peace. We need you to pray that our nation would turn to God.
There is something else you can do.
Do you know that each one of you has a call. Our video told how the Navy is our global force for good, but did you know that we, you and me are God’s force for good. We represent his kingdom!
10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, (Ephesians 2:10)
The video we watched talked about a call to serve in the Navy and to be a part of a global force for good. Some of you may choose to do that. But all of you have another calling. And that is to be a part of God’s kingdom force for good.
Those of us who have had the privilege of serving our nation are honored to make a difference. But this morning, your service has been requested not just by the President of the United States, but by the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. One day he won’t pin a medal on our chests, but he will put a crown on our heads and he will say (Matthew 25:21).
‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
Will you respond to the call to serve his Kingdom?