Faith can sustain people during crisis, war

Published 1:56 am Wednesday, March 19, 2003

By By James Crawford
News Editor
As America braces for round two in the desert against Sadaam Hussein and Iraq, local ministers gather around their flocks and pray for the best; that a war they hoped wouldn't come but did won't take many lives and won't last long. And in the meantime they all plan to do what they can for the families and pray for the return of those in harms way.
"We will focus in our services on the war and particularly on those in the armed services and our leaders," said Doug Newton, pastor of First Methodist. "The Christian faith is the sustaining force in the lives of any person who has a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. That is the greatest need in any life."
When asked if he expected a larger number in attendance should war be declared against Iraq, Newton said yes. "I would think there would be an increase in those attending. I truly believe war brings people together in this country. It brings Christian communities together in love, hope and prayer. The threat of war provides a climate to force people to search their hearts. It can revitalize our country's faith."
Wesley Channell, pastor of First Presbyterian Church agreed that people would probably come in the beginning but wasn't quite as sure people would be willing to stay long. "I think it depends on the length of the war. If it's short, then you will see a surge or thankful attendance, then it will drop off. I'm sorry to say that if it's far away and short, then Americans tend to have a short attention spans."
First Baptist's Kelly Brown echoed those sentiments. "It could have an effect. Though I haven't seen it yet. Certainly we saw a jump in attendance after Sept. 11," said Kelly, speaking on the general rise in attendance after national emergencies.
Despite the conditions and the locations they are faced with, faith is something any soldier can take with them into battle that can't be taken away by anyone. It can be the driving force behind keeping someone alive. "I think of faith as part of the fabric of life," said Brown. "Faith will help our servicemen face a crises, face danger. It will help strengthen us in a personal way. It has a lot to do with how our troops prepare themselves for what they have to do."
"Knowing that God is in control, regardless of the results or the outcome," said Channell on how soldiers might cope with the situations they will soon find themselves in. "We can't just live for this life."
Brown's congregation is putting together a list of servicemen connected to his church in one form or another that they will attempt to keep in contact with. "We are encouraging our congregation to write and send emails," Brown said.
Although the ministers hope for peace they are prepared to face the inevitable and stand ready to support our troops. "I'm convinced that with the knowledge our leadership has, if we don't do something soon, we will pay the price later," said Newton. "Desperate situations call for desperate measures. Although I abhor violence, I must trust the decisions of our President and Prime Minister Blair and those who are in a position to know the facts. Acting now could prevent the worst experience the world has ever known. We must support those in the armed forces."

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