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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: The USA (01/08/09)

TITLE: The Sweet Taste of Freedom
By Craig Lankford
01/14/09


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We all have different thoughts when we think about America. Everyone has their own slant, their own perspective. Like everyone else, my perceptions are influenced by my background and my experiences. Coming from a military point of view, one of the things I am most grateful for is the freedom we enjoy in America.

A lot of folks may talk about the freedoms they enjoy in their own countries. I know that the Russian government made sure their version of the Bill of Rights had more rights than the one penned in the United States more than two hundred years ago. There are many countries that I can't talk about because I know little about them and have never been to them. I can only speak about what I have seen and where I have been.

When I was in Kuwait, a few months before the US push to remove Saddam Hussein and his government, I met an Egyptian man. We were on a base in the middle of the Kuwaiti desert. He was pleased that I knew a bit of Arabic and we spoke for a while. In response to some of my comments, he asked if I were a Christian. When I responded affirmatively, he quickly looked around because, as he said, there were eyes everywhere. Satisfied, he reached down the neck of his shirt and, like a sailor pulling up an anchor at the end of a long chain, brought a golden cross out into view. Our conversation then centered around our faith. He warned me to be careful because not all was as it seemed. He told me that, although the Kuwaiti government claimed to support religious freedom, Islam was the only real religion there. Less than two weeks before our meeting, a small church was gathered in the Kuwaiti capital when masked men broke in with automatic weapons and gunned down almost everyone there. The police arrived to make their obligatory appearance but, the Egyptian man claimed, they didn't even try to investigate and didn't care to try to catch the gunmen. I was stunned, I hadn't even heard news of this. He sadly shook his head, telling me this was common, and claimed there was a great deal that happened in the middle east which never made it to the world news.

Chaplains held religious services for us while we were in Kuwait and Iraq, however, we were discouraged from interacting with the native Christians there. First, because we were not supposed to appear to support any particular religious group there, and secondly, because they didn't want us to draw attention to the Christians there. Doing so might bring religious retaliation against them.

I escorted my unit's equipment home by ship. The weather was clear and dry for almost a month as we traveled. About two days before we reached port, the skies opened up and rain came down. We soldiers all ran out to enjoy the rain. It was cool and refreshing. There was a huge rainbow as well. It was as if America was welcoming us home and washing away the past trauma. We were home again, where we didn't have to worry about explosives on the side of the road, people popping up to shoot at us, or having to watch what we said because the government might not approve.

I believe we are one nation under God, whether the people of America choose to accept it or not. Individually, and as a country, God has deeply blessed us. Recent popular opposition to Christian beliefs by small, vocal groups should remind us to watch out for our rights. As my girlfriend said the other day, it is we the people, not I the atheist here.

Americans enjoy a great deal of freedom, whether or not they have paid for it. Somebody has to pay the price. I pay for mine, and for that of others, on a daily basis. Freedom isn't free. I am grateful for mine. I am also grateful for another freedom I possess. It is a freedom I didn't pay for. My freedom from the wages of sin was paid for by Christ on the cross. I still fight sin in my daily life but, ultimately, the price has already been paid. Paid, once and for all time.


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Member Comments
Member Date
Jan Ackerson 01/15/09
The story of the Egyptian man was fascinating! Thanks for this interesting first person account.
Myrna Noyes01/15/09
First, I want to thank you for serving in the military on behalf of our country and me! My nephew recently returned from his Army stint in Iraq, and I am so thankful for all our men and women fighting for justice and freedom.

I appreciate the thoughts and personal stories you shared in this piece, and the encounter with the Egyptian man was especially interesting. I loved this descriptive sentence of yours, too: "he reached down the neck of his shirt and, like a sailor pulling up an anchor at the end of a long chain, brought a golden cross out into view.
Clyde Blakely 01/16/09
Thank you for serving. And thank you for reminding us to pray for our Christian brothers and sisters in other lands. It is hard for Americans to appreciate the freedoms we have unless we have been somewhere they are absent. Perhaps shortly in the USA. Again, thank you for a well written, informative article. God bless.