Good News From The Iraq War A Special Thanksgiving Message: Good News From the Iraq War... Lee Grady Army Sgt. Nijel Rawlins, a Charisma reader, was deployed for 12 months with the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division. He shared his faith on the front lines of the war—and wrote some awesome praise songs. Most people don’t feel like singing when they are in the midst of a tough spiritual battle. But when Army Sgt. Nijel Rawlins was deployed in Baghdad to train Iraqi soldiers, he wrote and recorded his own album of praise music. It became part of his dynamic Christian witness on the front lines of the war. A talented vocalist and saxophone player, Rawlins joined the Army after high school and became a Christian after he was sent to the Middle East in 1990 during the Gulf War. Later, when he was sent to Iraq with the 101st Airborne Division, he took his laptop, microphone and sax with him and set up a makeshift studio. “I wrote 10 songs while I was there—almost one song a month—and remarkably they were all about God’s love. It was like God was telling me that He had me over there [in Iraq] and that His love would protect me,” Rawlins says. And Rawlins did experience God’s miraculous protection. Once, when he was traveling to an Iraqi base camp, his superiors made a last-minute change in his seat assignment and moved him from one military vehicle to another. Five minutes into the journey, a bomb exploded right next to the Hummer he was originally assigned to ride in. Says Rawlins: “Guess where it exploded? Right where I was supposed to have been seated. No one could explain why I had been moved, but I am glad I did. Praise God that His angels are watching over me!” Rawlins is one of many born-again Christian soldiers who are serving today in the war on terror. The 37-year-old father of three sons told me that his faith in Christ has grown during this conflict. While in Iraq, he prayed more, read his Bible more and received a divine call to preach the gospel. I asked Rawlins a few other questions about his experience in Iraq: What is the spiritual condition of the American soldiers fighting there? Rawlins: Most of the young soldiers smoked, swore and were very promiscuous [before the war]. Very few attended church. But when the orders were given that they were going to Iraq for sure, they fell back into their spiritual roots—Christianity. How were you able to share your faith with your fellow soldiers? Rawlins: You have to be careful about when and where you share your faith. I am an Army leader so soldiers automatically come to me with issues and problems. By using wisdom and compassion I give them biblical advice without them knowing it. And I sometimes just tell people what God impresses me to say to them and let the chips fall where they may. I share my faith all the time. Many Americans have become very critical of the war and of President Bush. How does that make you feel as a soldier? Rawlins: Most in Iraq are skeptical about us because of all the negative things said over the years by their leaders and the news media. The older ones are set in their mind-sets, but that is changing among the younger generation. When 3,000-plus Americans have given their lives for a better Iraq, that is a strong compelling statement that we really care. ****** Regardless of your personal opinions about the war or about Bush’s policies, I hope Rawlins’ testimony will cause you to be thankful for the brave men and women in our military who are defending freedom around the world. And when you gather with your family around the Thanksgiving table this week, I hope you will ask for God’s continued protection on all U.S. soldiers serving in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. My prayer is that every U.S. soldier, like Nijel Rawlins, will find Christ—and a song of praise—in the midst of the battle. To see photos of Rawlins and his family and to listen to three of the original praise songs he recorded in Iraq, click here.