Spiritual lessons taken from war

Perspective: A Persian Gulf veteran writes of how faith saw the nation through a conflict

March 25, 2001|By Michelle Yoffee-Beard | Michelle Yoffee-Beard,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Since the Persian Gulf war ended 10 years ago, retired Army Col. Richard E. Geyer has spent many days recalling what happened while his feet were planted in Middle Eastern sand.

Since the war, the Mount Airy resident has prayed, talked and thought so much about it that he decided to write a spiritual book to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the conflict.

The book idea came to Geyer while he was stationed in Kuwait shortly after the war ended. There, while studying the Bible, he found similarities between the Iraqis' hasty retreat from Kuwait and the Egyptians' retreat before Nebuchadnezzar's army -- as described by the prophet Jeremiah -- and began developing his book.

Titled "When America Turned To God: Spiritual Lessons for Our Nation from the Gulf War," the self-published book recounts how the prayers of America were answered by the results of the war.

The book's purposes, as Geyer sees it, are to bring God's messages of warning and hope for the nation, and to put a fresh perspective on the efforts of Christian leaders to bring people to God.

Geyer, 64, said he believes the United States turned to God when it was on the edge of war in the Middle East mainly because of a fear for the lives of U.S. soldiers. He also believes God gave the United States and its allies victory in the gulf war, answering Americans' prayers.

With consternation, Geyer said, "The spiritual uptick did not last, and we turned away from God when the war ended. America's moral decline, well under way before the onset of that war, has accelerated since then. We are in jeopardy of suffering God's judgment, falling in the way that nations have fallen in the past -- moral decay from within, making them vulnerable to attack from without."

Geyer said he believes God controls the outcome of wars and that whichever side follows his moral path will win. Nations who neglect God and his laws will be defeated.

"These ideas are not new if you are familiar with the Bible -- especially the Old Testament," Geyer said. "What is new -- and is a theme of this book -- is the application of God's eternal truths and the Old Testament illustrations of these truths to the gulf war and America's moral life in the near-decade since. Here we find spiritual lessons that show the way to a God-blessed future for our nation."

Geyer said he did not deal with personal spiritual lessons in his book but that he learned that he could rely on God.

"I went over to Saudi Arabia when the Scuds were flying and went into Kuwait following the tanks," Geyer said. "It was dangerous even though the shooting had stopped. I wasn't injured and I wasn't killed. My main lesson was that if God could bring me through that, he could bring me through everything. I live with a great deal of peace and security today."

When possible, Geyer used stories to convey the message of this book. One story that stands out is that of Motreb, a composite of an Iraqi soldier that Geyer gleaned while in Kuwait. It describes a fictitious soldier based upon facts and circumstances that described the experiences of Iraqi soldiers. He took the name -- Motreb -- from a name tag that someone found on an Iraqi uniform.

"All of the descriptions of things in the Motreb chapter are based on something I saw or learned," Geyer said. "I guess the thing that struck me the most was the obvious lack of leadership by Iraqi officers. It was sad because the officers in Kuwait didn't look after their soldiers or take care of them, which is fundamental for any military. When those soldiers pulled out of Kuwait, it was officers first, then the lower-ranking men."

Geyer's book can be purchased at area Christian bookstores.

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