My brother Joel, who is currently in Afghanistan, recently sent the following email:
"I experienced a first tonight.
“Here on Bagram (military base) we have a church called the Enduring Faith Chapel. I went tonight for the 6 p.m. service. We started the service as any other and it seemed as if tonight would be no different. The band cranked up and we sang a song, then transitioned into the standard “meet and greet.” Just after the opening prayer it became apparent that tonight's service would be unlike any I had ever attended. As the chaplain began to greet everyone, we heard a familiar voice coming from strategically placed loudspeakers. 'Incoming! Incoming! Incoming!' It ended to the sound of a very loud explosion. The sound, that we are far too accustomed with here at Bagram, was the impact of what was likely a 107 mm Chinese rocket. Never before have I seen an entire congregation (albeit small - maybe 40 people) immediately drop to the ground. We lay on our stomachs to avoid the shrapnel that threatened to rip through the building. Seconds later we heard the beautiful sound of outgoing fire from the C-RAMs. Imagine the largest caliber machine gun in our arsenal firing red tracer rounds into the night sky at such a rate that it looks like a singular red laser in the form of a whip slashing through the dark. While beautiful to our ears, it was also an ominous warning that more rockets were inbound and the computer guided C-RAM was attempting to intercept them midair, instead of allowing them to land and detonate.
“Now you would think that 40 smart people might run to the bunker for safety. Not us. Instead, about 30 seconds later we stood back up and sang a song of praise so loud we could no longer hear the sirens. Some who are unfamiliar with the ways of war might say, 'Wow! That was a brave showing of faith!' Say that if you wish, but it was not bravery. Stupidity, maybe, but certainly not bravery. We have simply become accustomed to attacks, and we all realize that if it is our time to go, no bunker 100 yards away is going to save us.
“The point is that afterward I was contemplating what just happened and realized how lucky we are as Americans. In some parts of the world, churches meet in secret to avoid Islamist beheadings. In Nigeria, churches are frequently bombed by Boko Haram. Other places throughout the world suffer numerous fates for worshiping our God. In America, well, we don't have to go to church in secret, we don't worry about getting decapitated and we don't worry about rockets landing in the middle of the congregation.
“How blessed we are to have the freedom to worship God as He demands without the perils that so many of our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ face around the globe! Let’s make sure we keep that freedom and thank God for it every day."
I couldn't have said it better myself.
Kim Reeder is pastor of Barton Chapel Baptist Church in Tyronza.