Guest / Limited Access /

Alan Baker huddled in the sweltering bunker as the air raid siren screamed one desert night during Desert Storm in 1991. "Scud alert. Scud alert," a loudspeaker warned. "All hands take cover!"

In each hand, Baker clutched an auto-injecting antidote to lethal nerve agents. In the dimly lit bunker, he looked at his companions, packed tightly together, waiting for the first symptoms of gas poisoning. The dark rubber masks made everyone seem faceless and robotic. Baker was as terrified as anyone, but he had something that many of his companions did not: a deep faith in God. As the chaplain to the Third Marine Air Wing, Baker had spent months praying, reflecting, and preparing for such a moment.

As the hard-packed desert sand shook with the impact of incoming Iraqi missiles, one soldier began to flail her arms desperately, pulled her mask off, and hyperventilated. Baker quickly grabbed his Communion kit, moved alongside her, and identified himself as a chaplain. "I think we're going to be okay," he told her. "I don't hear any more explosions."

"Listen," he said. "It's quiet."
"When you put all that gear on, you are very isolated," he later recalled. "You're hot, you're sweating. If you have any sense of claustrophobia, you'll find out."

In peril on the sea

War will do that to youreveal your fears and focus your desires. Today as tens of thousands of troops steam toward the Middle East for an expected showdown with Iraq's Saddam Hussein, the military's chaplains know they may soon be called upon to guide young men and women through life-changing trauma from combat experiences.

On ships, in airfields, back at bases, 864 chaplains are on active duty with the Navy, Marines, Coast Guard, and Merchant Marine. The Chaplain Corps includes major ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Support Christian thought journalism. Donate to our nonprofit ministry today.
From Issue:
Read These NextSee Our Latest
Also in this Issue
Subscriber Access Only
Kenya: Churches Back Truth Commission
Panel will examine allegations of murder and corruption under former president
RecommendedBill Frist: Foreign Aid Saves Lives—And Makes America Safer
Bill Frist: Foreign Aid Saves Lives—And Makes America Safer
How a sliver of the US budget can change the world.
TrendingRussia’s Plan to Ban Jehovah’s Witnesses Puts Evangelicals in a Tight Spot
Russia’s Plan to Ban Jehovah’s Witnesses Puts Evangelicals in a Tight Spot
Group gives Protestants competition for souls, but also an ally on religious freedom.
Editor's PickHow the Prophet Habakkuk Built an Anti-Fragile Faith
How the Prophet Habakkuk Built an Anti-Fragile Faith
Lessons on worshiping a consistently unpredictable God.
Christianity Today
Faith and Fear on the Truman
hide thisApril April

In the Magazine

April 2003

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.