During my first deployment, at the beginning of the ground war, I got acquainted with sandstorms. The Chaplain that supervises me for our Brigade said when he saw his first one he looked out to the horizon and thought to himself I don’t remember there being a cliff there before When sandstorms hit, soldiers would get our vehicles and circle them around the tents we lived in the hopes that they would not rip our tents out of the ground and send them off into the horizon. They were quite powerful.
One of the soldiers in my unit (we’ll call him Joe) had approached me before we left the states to let me know that he was a Buddhist and would not be needing the services of a Christian Chaplain. I told him since he didn’t need a Chaplain, I suggested that he and I be friends. As I got to know him a little better it became pretty clear to me that his Buddhism had little to do with Buddha, but more with sticking it to his strict fundamentalist parents. He was looking to make his mother mad, and had met with a large amount of success. I had the privilege of meeting her before we left, and she expressed her concern about her son’s choice of religion.
Joe was out on a patrol when a sandstorm hit. It was a pretty rough one, and they only had vehicles for shelter. We had been allowed 3 duffel bags and were told to pack all our gear and anything we might need in those three bags. Joe had decided to use some of his packing space for a Coleman hammock. That night he had strung his hammock up in the back of one of our 5 Ton Trucks. The force of the winds was so strong that the soldiers were sitting between the slats trying to brace the cover of the back of the truck. They were unsuccessful. I was told later that the truck had moved in excess of 15 feet sideways in the sand. During this time, my battalions only Buddhist got spun up like Frodo Baggins. I guess Buddhism doesn’t give you someone to rescue you when you’re in a bind, because Joe cut a deal with Jesus.
Early that morning, around 4 am Joe was at the flap of my tent calling for me. I told him to come in. I asked him what he needed, and he told me I need to get saved. I threw my pants and boots on, grabbed my Bible and we headed together for the chapel. Once in the chapel I opened my Bible and explained through various passages that he needed to have a sense that he was a sinner, and had violated God’s law. He said, “Yes, I got that.” Then I told him that he would need to trust only in Christ’s work on the cross as the payment for his sins. He replied, “I got that one, too.” I then explained that he would need to pray to God, confess his sins, and receive God’s free gift of salvation. He told me, “I did that, too.” “Well, then,” I said, “Brother you’ve already been saved. You are a Christian.” At first he said, “Really?” He was quiet for a few seconds and told me, “You know, I knew I felt different.”