2 Chronicles 7:14 (ESV)
If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
Lieutenant Carey Cash, chaplain to the First Battalion, 5th Marine regiment, was part of the first ground force to enter Iraq and says there is no doubt that God was with them. (He also served in Kuwait.) During what is conceded to be the worst day of fighting for U.S. Marines, the first battalion, the most highly decorated Marines in U.S. history, suffered just one casualty. Something Cash calls an absolute miracle in a recent interview with Pat Robertson:
CASH: On April 10th, 2003, our battalion was given orders to seize the presidential palace on the Tigris River. And we went into the center of that city, not realizing that about a thousand Fedayeen were waiting for us. And at four in the morning, in the dark, they literally unleashed all their fury. It became essentially a nine-hour ambush, from urban fighting, close quarters. The results of which should have yielded untold casualties and many, many Marines dead. Just because of the sheer volume of fire, we suspected anywhere from 1,000 to 1,500 rocket-propelled grenades were shot at the lead elements of our convoy. When I got to the palace the next day and began to talk to the Marines, and go and visit them - and we did lose one man, a 22-year veteran - what I saw was not a battalion licking its wounds and overwhelmed with the fight they had just endured. But literally it looked like I'd come upon a group of men who had walked through the Red Sea. Over and over the stories kept coming out to me.' Chaplain, let me tell you what God did for me; Chaplain, the angels that we have been talking about for weeks, preceding this war, shielded me and protected me.' It was amazing.
Did they see the angels or did they just know they were there?
CASH: I didn't talk to any Marines who said they saw an angel. But what they did share was that rocket-propelled grenades would come at them, and literally curve in mid-air and go around them. Untold Marines shared with me that rockets would come and literally dive down as if batted by some unseen hand. We had one rocket go through a Humvee passenger-side window, and explode in the compartment. Without a doubt, it should have killed every man in that vehicle. And yet when the explosion came through, it blew out the front of the windshield, and so it exploded out instead of in, and not a single man was injured. And over and over, the accounts of that day were so tremendous, that I realized I had stumbled upon something amazing.
Did your people pray? I've heard of a unit in World War II that recited the 91st Psalm, over and over again. Was there special prayer, special confession of God's presence?
CASH: Absolutely, yes. Psalm 91, which is known as the Soldier's Psalm, became very instrumental in the days leading up to that war, even during the war. Joshua 1:9, "Have I not commanded you to be strong and courageous? Be not afraid. Be not dismayed, for I will be with you wherever you go." This became, literally, God's word to us, to remember that we are not going through this alone.
It is almost a cliché - there are no atheists in foxholes - what is the faith of those guys? When you go in a battle like that, do they want to know God?
CASH: It is interesting, when I began visiting the men, the last few hours before we crossed the line of departure. They all had their rifles, they had their ammunition, they had all their gear, they had all their training, but in the last moments what all of us needed was something that far transcended anything that training could provide. When I went and visited them, and their eyes met with mine, it was as if we all knew why I was there. We needed to call on God. We were joining a host of warriors, for millennium before battles, who have called out upon the only One who could provide for them and protect them.
Amazing stories. Were there others? You mentioned going into Baghdad. Were there other examples of the protection of God that you saw?
CASH: Absolutely. When we crossed in the line of departure, we immediately met a section of Iraqi tanks that we had not suspected would be there. In fact, intelligence had not confirmed or reported their presence. We came across the border, it was in the dark, their turrets were leveled, we were exposed, we were at a point of what is called critical vulnerability---and their main guns never fired on us.The guns were fully manned by Iraqi soldiers and the company commander told me, after the fight, about that incident. He said, 'Chaplain, if their main guns had fired, all it would have taken is one round to hit one of our armored personnel carriers and 20-30 marines would have been dead in an instant.' And I remembered back to the countless letters I had received from churches across the nations, saying we are praying specifically that when you cross that border, God will restrain and confuse the enemy. And the fact that those tanks didn't fire and that 3,000 enemy soldiers s! Urrendered en masse and in concert, tells me that God answered those prayers of the people back here in the United States.
This again is probably redundant, but what is the morale of those troops? It must be tremendous.
CASH: The morale is good. The training is good, their leadership is determined, but if I could say, the thing I am most concerned about is the morale of our people back here and in the churches. I think that the churches prayed for our men during the major hostilities. But we have to remember that now, more than ever, we need to pray for those men. We need to send them letters. It was like life, getting letters on the front line from churches saying we are praying for you. We are praying this psalm for you, we are remembering you daily in our Bible studies. Churches and Christians all across our country need to remember that this war is still ongoing, and they need to send letter and care packages. We need to adopt battalions, like we did during the war, and lift these men up daily to God."
As a chaplain, Lieutenant Cash does not carry even a defensive weapon, but he strongly believes Romans, Chapter 13, teaches that "government does not bear the sword in vain," meaning there is a place for the use of aggressive force if it is to protect the innocent, to right a wrong. He also says that despite the difficulties of being in Iraq, he eventually has realized that "God had not just called us there to protect the Iraqi people and to protect our borders from weapons of mass destruction, but He had brought these men there in order to reveal Himself to them for the first time."
A devoted husband and father of five children under nine years old, Lieutenant Cash is a graduate of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, wrote a book about his experiences.
Dear Lord, thank You that we can come to You in prayer. We thank You that You listen and are there to take care of us and our concerns. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.