A Letter written on December 19, 1990
Edward F. Lundwall, Jr., Retired Chaplain
Dear Brother in Christ,
Greetings in our blessed Savior’s Name!
I have felt impressed to write to you as you face possible combat in Saudi Arabia, because I want to share some things that I learned while ministering as a Chaplain in Viet Nam, with the 1/27th Infantry Battalion, 25tn Division.
The words of Mordecai to Esther come to my mind that could be applied to your mission: “…who knows whether you have come to the kingdom (opportunity) for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:15). You will have opportunity to witness and perhaps lead many to Christ. When I was at Ft. Dix as Chaplain at the Reception Station where the draftees got off the bus, I had the greatest evangelistic experience of my life. The men were more fearful then than at any other time; they didn’t know what to expect. They only knew that many had been killed or wounded.
I volunteered during the Viet Nam war, because I felt compassion on those who might seek the Lord in the hour of their distress. I would encourage you to feel God’s call also. I knew that it might be God’s will that I not return, but I committed that into God’s hands. Of the messages that I preached, the one that the men most responded to was that Christ would stick closer than a brother. To those who would trust Him, He would save and care for them forever, even beyond this life.
The most important thing is to trust Him in general and during the times of fear. Job said: “For the thing I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me” (Job 3:25). This verse was meaningful to me the first time I was in the field with Charlie Company. I had heard about all the bugs and creepy insects that could bit me in the rice patties. I was told to button up at and night and to put insect repellant around the openings of my uniform. I did. However, before I could get to sleep, a centipede 4-5 inches long crawled into my shirt and stung me. After that I remembered this verse and just trusted the Lord about it. Even though I heard mice playing around me as I went to sleep, I never had any more problems with insects or snakes or anything else.
While no one knows the time of our home going to Heaven, yet we know that our times are in His hands (Psalm 31:15). As with the Psalmist, this promise gives us reason to pray for deliverance from our enemies; and He had war specifically in mind Having fear in the face of danger does not mean that a person is unspiritual for I comforted myself often with the verse: “What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee” (Psalm 65:3). I used it often when the enemy was especially aggressive. The point is that when in danger we all face fear, but the godly overcome fear by faith and prayers of faith. When we do this often enough, danger no longer terrifies us.
But neither fear nor past faith should keep us from praying through at specific times of danger. I remember a Christian soldier that had been delivered three times from circumstances of certain death in assaults upon Fire Support Base Mahone II. A 57mm recoilless rifle round went over the base into the back of his bunker. Three others with him were not killed. This was especially distressing to me because I had just preached Psalm 91 to him the day before.
But as I investigated the circumstances, there was indication that he had been trusting in being near me instead of claiming the promise: “He shall call upon me, and I will answer him. I will deliver him, and honor him. With long life will I satisfy him, and show him my salvation (deliverance)” in Psalm 91:15 and 16. “…Ye have not, because ye have not” (James 4:3).
Yet, you need to tell your friends, that prayer without salvation and a conscience free from unrepentant sin will not bring God’s deliverance: “Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you, that he will not hear” (Isaiah 59:1, 2). Effectual prayer brings results when a person reasons with God (Isaiah 1:8, I.e. where we let God speak to us while we plead our cause.
I recall one time following Tet 1969 in Viet Nam when intelligence indicated that we were the target of 2 North Vietnamese Regiments. We kept only one company for perimeter defense. So I prayed, reasoning with God for my life. I prayed for Him to save my life, first because I was a Christian, and then because of my wife and children, but received no peace, because others died while being married Christians. However when I sought the Lord that I might glorify Him more by living than dying, I got peace.
Two weeks later, the enemy bombarded our base, but were turned back, not because of our fire, but because their own mortars hit the assault troops. They left nearly thirty dead and many blood trails. In their retreat, they abandoned several of two kinds of rocket propelled grenade launchers with many rounds, 57 mm recoilless rounds and a Russian flame thrower. I believe that this was an answer to prayer for my deliverance. It corresponds to God’s ways as revealed in the Old Testament in which He would deliver His own by causing His people’s enemies to destroy themselves (2 Chronicles 20:1-26).
So be on the spiritual offensive, both in prayer and witness; if you do, I know that He will be gracious to you. Thereby, you can be sure you will live until your calling is fulfilled. You must trust the Lord actively and rest in His love and provisions along with prayer: “Believe in the LORD your God, so shall ye be established;” (2 Chronicles 20:29). “If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established” (Isaiah 7:9).
Our prayers will be with you and your families.
Edward F. Lundwall, Jr.
Chaplain CPT, Reserved Retired