Lifestyle

FAITHFUL LIVING: Pray with confidence; God hears us

It was late one night this week when I decided I would check to see how Walt Rogers, CNN’s embedded reporter assigned to the U.S. Army’s 7th Cavalry, was progressing on the road toward Baghdad. His personal stamina, as well as his skill as a reporter, continues to amaze me. It is my perception that he provides his audience with small, yet reliable portraits of the war while traveling with the large division of tanks. Along with CNN anchor Aaron Brown and military analyst General Wesley Clark (ret.), Rogers provides a decidedly human glimpse into our military’s activities. I am daily enlightened and moved from my couch, in my warm and safe home, on a Puget Sound island, half-way around the world from the fighting.

When life at the Klope house is closing down for the night I have often, during these last two weeks, experienced a surprising, almost untouchable need for an update to the war — even though I occasionally hop into bed feeling moderately distressed and anxious as a result. I have counteracted my concerns by moderating my TV viewing. I have also made a personal commitment to pray for all people touched by this military action. This includes war protestors worldwide, military coalition force members, and top international leaders. My prayers are also spiced with specific names of neighbors called into active duty, parents of students with whom I work, and Danny and Yvonne Burns and their two children, an Army family whose request for prayer came to my attention when I visited www.

presidentialprayerteam.org.

Do I always know what to pray for? Not always at first, so I quiet myself and consider what might be going on in their lives. I imagine moments of extreme fear, stress, exhaustion and confusion, and emotional and physical pain. At this writing Baghdad lies in darkness. I pray that God will offer spiritual light and comfort in that darkness.

Most of all, I ask God that I not get mired down in all the talk. Has the U.S. thrown the switch on the lights or have Iraqi officials? Will the Arab world ever forgive America for this move onto foreign soil? Can we positively link the tragic events of Sept. 11 to terrorist camps, seen by coalition pilots as they fly sorties over the interior of Iraq? Are we motivated by our concern for a people degraded by a dictator or our long-term need for access to large stores of oil? Too often we spend our energy analyzing to death issues that can never be fully answered. We can, however, pray with confidence that God will hear the yearnings of our hearts and respond in eternal, dramatic and personal ways.

We can also be generous to those directly involved in the war, including coalition military personnel and the Iraqi people. I think we should consider ways to reach out to people — regardless of our personal positions on the politics of this war. It may be a good thing to stand on a street corner and raise the awareness of those passing by. Perhaps it might be even better to make a list and go shopping, taking the time to round up a box, fill it with practical items that would be of genuine help to someone in the region, then finish the job by standing in line at the post office.

There are any number of reputable groups who serve both military and civilians. Below are listed organizations and Web sites that offer varied services. Some focus on the military. Some groups focus on the people of Iraq, whose lives have declined substantially since the 1991 Gulf War due in part to international sanctions against the Iraqi regime. Today more than half of the country’s population has become totally dependent on food rations distributed by the government under the UN oil-for-food program.

Pray for direction and respond with generosity to the ways you would like to live faithfully.

Programs geared to the American military

Operation Uplink

Donate a calling card to help keep service members in touch with their families at http://www.operationuplink.org/

Military relief societies

http://www.aerhq.org (Army)

http://nmcrs.org (Navy/Marine Corps.)

http://www.afas.org (Air Force)

http://www.cgmahq.org (Coast Guard)

Operation USO Care Package

http://www.uso.org

American Red Cross Armed Forces Emergency Services

http://www.redcross.org/services/afes/

International agency

InterAction

InterAction (located at www.interaction.org) is the largest alliance of U.S.-based international development and humanitarian nongovernmental organizations. With more than 160 members operating in every developing country, they work to overcome poverty, exclusion and suffering by advancing social justice. Their list of agency contacts is impressive and is a great place to begin.

Freelance writer Joan Bay Klope’s e-mail address is jbklope@hotmailcom

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