In light of the US troop withdrawal and the end of combat in Iraq, I wanted to re-post lessons learned when we began turning the tide towards progress in 2007 after several really challenging years. Much still needs to be done, but our troops are serving effectively.
A friend of mine I haven’t talked to in about 10 years recently sent me an email from Iraq. After we knew each other in Seattle, he joined the military and now flies blackhawk helicopters. I cannot imagine the courage it takes to serve so faithfully and sacrificially! We are grateful for his service along with the rest of our military, and we pray for our troops!
After so many depressing reports from Iraq over the last few years about the violence our troops face along with the news we seemed to hear about insurgent fighters and sectarian fighting, it seemed like we were stuck in a never-ending battle. It has been quite encouraging to hear of the recent downturn in the violence. See the following:
US reports ‘phenomenal’ drop in Iraq violence
Baghdad’s Weary Start to Exhale as Security Improves
Commander: Citizens, extra troops help ‘crush’ al Qaeda in Iraq
Returnees Find a Capital Transformed).
What was the breakthrough? Many feel it has been the troop surge. Others suggest it has been the result of locals expelling al Qaeda from their areas. The answer is actually quite surprising.
Former Lt. Pete Hegseth (Exec. Director of Vets for Freedom) was asked for his opinion on FoxNews on Nov. 12th. He responded:
“Everybody I am talking to and experience tells me it is the new counter-insurgency strategy…. We’ve taken troops out of the big bases and pushed them into the population. They are creating the relationships and they’re gathering the intelligence necessary to find these weapons and insurgents and create the space for Iraqis to stand up….”
I realize that so much more needs to be done and I imagine there is still quite a bit of instability, but how encouraging to know progress is being made through developing relationships.
What a great lesson for the Church! How much more effective in serving the world and helping make the world a better place if those of us who follow Jesus left our “bases” and moved into relationships! Changing the world means loving and serving one person at a time. It takes time, but it is time well spent. It is dangerous to get off the base, but developing meaningful relationships with those around is worth the possible heartache and disappointments.
Too often we hide from people who look differently, believe differently, or live differently when we are actually called to love and serve those around us.