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Vol.  9  No. 7 July 2007  Page 10
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Did I Put on My Holy Up-Armor Today?

Monte DuncanBy SFC Monte Duncan

    I am a Platoon Sergeant in the Army National Guard and am currently stationed in Iraq. In October of 2005 we were mobilized for duty in Iraq. We had some idea of what we would be doing, but very little solid information. After 6 months of training at Camp Shelby, MS, we departed for what would turn out to be a life-changing deployment for us all. After 2 weeks in Kuwait, we arrived at Balad Air Base (otherwise known as LSA Anaconda). The base is located about 45 miles northeast of Baghdad, Iraq. Upon arriving at Balad, our unit took over a convoy escort mission and split up into 14-man teams. I was assigned as the convoy commander of a team. Our mission was to escort civilian semi-trucks carrying supplies. This article is partially a testimony to the faithfulness of God and the kindness he showed us, but also serves as a warning for those who underestimate our enemy.

    Every night before we would leave the wire, we put on our body armor, our Kevlar helmets and our deltoid armor. We would grumble about all that weight, but we did it anyway. Then we mounted up in up-armored gun trucks. Right after we left the security of the gate, we would turn on electronic countermeasures which were designed to afford us more protection. I never realized how much all that protection meant to me until we had our first civilian truck breakdown well outside the wire.

    It was our second week out doing missions when our first breakdown occurred. We were out on the main convoy route right next to a hot spot. This was one of many places there had been a lot of insurgent activity. The second I realized I was going outside the protection on my up-armored truck, it hit me just how vulnerable I was going to be, even with all the armor I was wearing. I think in that second I muttered a quick prayer, but I could hesitate no longer. We had to get the problem fixed and get out of the area before we became targets. After doing our scan of the area and determining as best we could that there were no IED’s in our present location, I opened my 150-lb. armored door and stepped out.

    As I walked back to the broken down truck, all sorts of images went through my head—an undiscovered IED explodes, small arms fire hits me—just the worst imaginable things that could happen, happening. I knew questioning God’s protection showed a lack of faith on my part, but I couldn’t help the initial feeling of helplessness. It dawned on me as I walked just how much we relied on the protection of those up-armored HMMV’s. Looking back now, it is obvious to me how much we were relying on God’s protection. The entire time I was outside of my truck, I felt somehow naked and vulnerable. The armor I wore just didn’t seem to provide me any mental comfort. When we finally got things to where we could move again, I got back into the safety of my truck, and relief washed over me.

    This was to be the first of many times where I had to leave the safety of my truck. God’s protection never failed me. Our convoy was hit the next night with an IED. We were traveling as a combat patrol, without TCN trucks, and had just crossed back over to the northbound lane going around a convoy that was stopped. They had assured us upon doing their checks that the area was clear. Just as we crossed over, my last truck had an IED explode not 10 meters to his right side. My truck was only 30 meters in front of him and the explosion rocked our truck so hard it slammed my gunner’s arm against the turret. Immediately I checked with my last truck. No injuries, thank God! We traveled on down further out of the kill zone, stopped and inspected the trucks. They were undamaged. It became more apparent to my team as we went out night after night that those prayers we always, and I mean always, said before we started our missions really helped.

    Back during our train-up at Camp Shelby, MS, some of my soldiers barely acknowledged God. Some made crude and unkind references using God in their jokes. It now occurs to me that I never hear much anti-God talk any more. Some have even stopped using his name in the standard cuss word we all hear. Something had become evident to some of our most hardcore unbelievers; they were indeed believers after a fashion. They knew God was there. There was only one who refused to believe. The rest never let me forget that we needed to say our prayer asking God for his protection before every mission. In my rush to get the mission briefed and get us on the road, I sometimes overlooked the mission prayer. They never did! They were always quick to remind me. It never ceases to amaze me how awesome the influence of God’s goodness is.

    At least twice a week we would make the trip to Baghdad from Balad Air Base. Some of the most dangerous roads that exist in Iraq were the ones we traveled. One spot in particular was notorious for heavy insurgent activity. Every night without fail, convoy traffic would come to a halt because a convoy had been hit in this area. MedEvac flights were common there. It seemed someone was always getting blown up. If you have ever traveled this route, you know exactly the place I am referring to. It wasn’t a matter of if but when the attacks would come. Our intelligence personnel could set their clocks by the attacks.

    Every time our convoy would approach this area, I was constantly in prayer to God asking for his help and protection. He was faithful to me and always protected us. Things never happened to us in these areas. An eerie silence would always seem to fall over the place as we passed through. I don’t recall even once being attacked there. One time we broke down in this area and waited 3 hours for help to arrive. It was quiet the entire time. This is a fact that goes against all the odds. I know there are skeptics out there that would attribute this to luck, but I know the real reason. My God is the living God, and he is faithful! No one will ever convince me otherwise. Even with statistical proof like this, the Nay Sayers still exist. That’s okay. They weren’t there, or they would have been convinced.

    I wonder sometimes why it is so hard for us as Christians to acknowledge God’s help. We pray for it. We seek it from God, and when he gives it, we want to explain away the events as though we are playing some cosmic game of “Russian Roulette.” We tell everyone how we managed to beat the odds. Where is our faith in God? If you don’t believe he can help you and keep you safe, aren’t you just wasting your breath asking him to?

    So why am I relating all of this to you? I want to emphasize a point. God provided protection for my men and me. To me, this is an unquestionable fact. In your daily walk, you may not come up against such a direct threat to your life, but there is a subtle threat out there that is just as dangerous. Satan operates covertly and exploits every angle he can to bring Christians down. He knows that direct confrontations will most likely do him no good, so he works his wiles indirectly against us.

    As Christians, we need not fear this! God has given us ways to protect ourselves from Satan. God has provided us with what the military might term “holy up-armor.”

    Ephesians 6:10-19 (NKJV) says this:

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints—and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel.

Now those are some powerful words! There is some awesome protection! Do you think Paul was the first to come up with this idea of holy up-armor? Look at Isaiah 59:17: “For He put on righteousness as a breastplate, And a helmet of salvation on His head.”

    Paul was quoting Isaiah. God is telling us here just how powerful his protection is. And it is reliable! God’s armor is not like the armor the Army uses here in Iraq, which might or might not fail. Just because we put it on and ride in armored trucks, doesn’t mean we are invulnerable. This manmade armor can fail. The enemy can make bigger bombs to defeat our armor. But God’s armor—now there is protection Satan cannot defeat! No matter what Satan throws at us, no matter how powerful he makes his bombs, God’s armor never fails.

    Now, if we fail to clothe ourselves with these precious gifts God has given us—the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation and the sword of the spirit—if we fail to use this holy up-armor, then Satan’s flaming arrows can reach us and bring us down. Would this be God’s fault? Can I blame God? Whose fault is it if I go out on mission without my armor, and I am injured? It’s my fault, either way. If I know that God has given me tools for my protection and don’t use them, then I am foolish and unwise.

    We have a choice every day to study God’s Word or to hope that Satan will overlook us and gamble that we will be safe. That gamble is a fool’s bet. Satan knows that sin is a powerful and tempting lure. The Book of James warns us about this:

But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. (James 1:14-16)

    Do not be deceived! There is no safe harbor from the storms with which Satan seeks to destroy us except through God. Use what God has given you. Take advantage of his protections. Believe that he will protect you! Never allow yourself to be lulled to sleep thinking you’re safe without God.

    Knowing this, will you seek his protection? Will you seek the shelter of his wing? It is my prayer that you never face direct danger in your life, but rest assured, you are facing danger from Satan. His attacks will come. Will you be ready?

    We had a tragedy occur upon our return home. Our unit consisted of a Kansas platoon and Kentucky platoon plus Headquarters element. We all demobilized at Ft. McCoy Wisconsin last week. On Saturday, we arrived home in our states to a welcome home ceremony. The Kentucky group had their welcome home celebration in Benton, Kentucky. After their ceremony, everyone joined their families and drove home. Our Commander, Cpt. Lawrence Carta, was driving home with his family when they were involved in an accident that sent their car rolling. Their 10 yr old daughter, Macy Lee Ann Carta was ejected from the car and died at the scene. They hadn’t even made it to the house. This terrible tragedy has saddened us beyond words.

    The funeral for Macy Lee Ann Carta is: Date: Thursday 28 Jun 07; Time: Visitation; 0800 Central Time, Memorial Service 1000 Central Time, Graveside service immediately following. Location: Fairview Baptist Church, 2594 Junction of East Hwy 80 and 910, Russell Springs, KY 42642, 270-866-3401 Other Information: Service and Burial will be held at the same location. Additionally, the church will provide a lunch meal in their fellowship hall for all who attend immediately following graveside service.

    Donations will be accepted in lieu of flowers to help cover expenses. You may forward donations to Jim and Gearldine Johnson, 189 Lake Trail Landing, Russell Springs, KY 42642.

    Mrs. Carta is still in the critical care unit at University of Louisville Hospital, 530 S. Jackson St., Louisville, KY 40202. She was badly injured and has had multiple surgeries. The prayers and thoughts of everyone for the Carta Family is greatly appreciated.

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