Warrior for God

Reported by Army Chaplain Kevin Pies, written by Joan Phillips

warriorGunfire. Roadside bombs. Mortar attacks. The soldiers with Alliance Chaplain Kevin Pies, serving in a U.S. Army support battalion in Iraq, have experienced firsthand God’s divine protection.

“The chaplain goes to work with his parishioner,” says Pies. “He’s right there, 24/7, and is able to build relationships easily.” He sees his military position as a safe harbor for his fellow soldiers. “Since I’m not in the chain of command, I have opportunities to counsel, console, and pray with the men and women.”

In the wee hours of the morning, unaffectionately coined “o’dark thirty,” Pies’ unit awaited orders to proceed from Kuwait into Iraq. Wary of entering the enemy’s lair, the troops wanted the assurance of God’s presence and protection. “Everyone I saw that morning allowed me to pray with them,” says Pies. “There was no discussion of separation of church and state.”

The trek into Baghdad did not go without incident. Many tense moments caused Pies and his unit to rely on God’s strength to see them through. “It was a challenge just to cope with the elements,” he adds. Living out of a Humvee for the first four months in 130-degree heat, battling bugs, scorpions, and tarantulas raised the anxiety level of the men and women.

In the midst of hostile fire and mortar attacks, Pies maintained his post: praying with the troops. “God has a captive audience in a desert-bound soldier,” he continues. “Stripped of modern conveniences and communication with the outside world, he or she has time to think about spiritual things and reevaluate relationships with loved ones back home.”

One soldier told Pies, “It took the desert for me to learn what it means to communicate with my wife.”

Throughout his deployment, Pies repeatedly has witnessed God’s protective hand upon the troops. One night in particular stands out. “Three mortar rounds came into the compound,” he says. 

The soldiers were sitting under a camouflage-net tent. The first two rounds missed the tent completely, but the third hit the top of the netting. Instead of burning through the net, potentially killing all the soldiers inside, the mortar shrapnel exploded upward and outward. Only a few men were hit, and the injuries were not life threatening.

Chaplain Pies seized the vulnerable moment to confirm God’s providence. “Inserting a word of my own,” he says, “we read together from Psalm 91, ‘His faithfulness will be your shield . . . A thousand [mortars] may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked.’”

Subsequently, troops sent to find the source of the attacks soon returned with several Iraqi rebels. Pies reports that one Iraqi, “. . . asked in broken English, ‘Do you Americans have some kind of force field or protective covering. Some special weapons that we don’t know about? Every time we fire, our weapons miss or they don’t do any damage.’”

Evidence of God’s faithfulness was brought to light repeatedly as the support battalion moved throughout Iraq. The biblical towns of Ur, Abraham’s home; Basrah, the modern day Garden of Eden, and Ninevah, near Mosul, came alive to Chaplain Pies, who linked to these sites to God’s presence then and now. As did the priests for the warriors in Deuteronomy, Pies brings God to the soldiers and the soldiers to God in Iraq.

When you go to war . . . the priest shall come forward and address the army. He shall say: “. . . For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you . . . to give you victory.” (Deuteronomy 20:1-4).

Chaplain Pies is currently the U.S. Army Space Command Chaplain stationed at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colorado.


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