December 17, 2017

A Military Mission Field

Gary Fisher

I have a story that I think others may benefit from reading. It begins in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, where I attended a religious school. I had attended this type of school since kindergarten. My teachers changed each year—and so did their interpretation of the Bible. As time passed this became very confusing to me, as I had to change my opinion each year to communicate with and please the teacher. I found it very difficult to keep up with the changing religious views. Eventually I bowed out of religion because the situation just became too hard to understand.

I eventually graduated from high school with no spiritual direction. I joined the Army and started my career. I never gave my spirituality the time of day for fourteen years while I served in various units deploying to combat zones or areas that could become combat zones at any time. One day I received the worst news an Infantry Platoon Sergeant could get … I had been selected to be a Drill Sergeant.

This assignment caused me to question what I had done wrong. But I had no idea what it would do for my soul.

I reported to my unit after Drill Sergeant School and met my chain of command and my peers. I then started my new job, training civilians to become soldiers. I met the Battalion Chaplain one day on the qualification range. I spoke with him for a short period of time and afterward thought that he was really responsible only for the soldiers in training, not the cadre. Two months later my family had some problems that almost compromised our marriage. My Commander, First Sergeant, and my Chaplain came to talk to me. It was a textbook reaction by a chain of command for situations like these. My Chaplain assisted my wife and me with our situation, and he became really popular with our family.

He would visit me from time to time at training or around the company area. It was a revelation to me that he knew so much about me. He was able to tell me when I was under a lot of stress and was too stressed out to realize it. He was the epitome of what I thought an Army Chaplain and a man of God should be. Little did I know I was just scratching the surface.

One day he approached me and told me that my soul was a priority to him. My wife had been saved for five years at that time, and she had tried to get me to even give the Lord a chance. It wasn’t until those words came from my Chaplain that the seed was planted for a flower that I would soon see. Over the next couple of months he would talk to me and get a feel of where I was spiritually. I don’t know when he made this decision, but he asked for help from a local pastor.

It was a Saturday afternoon when the doorbell rang. I opened the door to a man much taller than I. He introduced himself and asked whether he and his family could come in. We went through the normal introductions, and he wasted no time in asking me whether I knew where I would go if I were to die today. My reluctant answer was, “I don’t know.” He told me a lot of the same things my Chaplain had said, but he was a very large man with a voice that commanded your full and undivided attention— which was what I needed. His visit came just prior to my leaving for my next assignment.

I was about to leave for the Ranger Orientation Program, a prerequisite for an assignment to the Ranger Regiment. He gave me some reading to do and told me to pray for guidance and peace. Peace was a necessity, as I had two weeks to prepare for a very difficult course. I would have to complete an APFT, a five-mile run, a twelve-mile road march, and various other physical events as well as mental evaluations. I was confident regarding every event, but I worried about the run. (I hadn’t been required to run much with trainees.)

I went to ROP and started the events. The APFT went well, and, to my surprise, the five-mile run went great. The event I knew I had in the bag was the road march. I was ten miles into it when my legs cramped so badly that I could not complete the march. That was embarrassing and humiliating for a man who had done more than his share of walking. I thought for sure they would tell me to pack my stuff and go home. To my amazement they said that I could re-test. I had been brought to my knees and had only one place to turn—the Lord. I asked Him to at least let me save face and not look like an idiot. But the next day when we went for a run, I tore the ligaments in my left ankle.

This was not good. I was sure this was it for me. I was told there was no way I could heal up in time for the road march re-test in five days, but I was given the option to try. There was no way I would go home without trying, so I did something I had never done before. I put my complete trust in God and told Him I realized that I would be selected to the Regiment if it were His will. I then asked for his help. My wife said that she would pray for me, and I spent the weekend reading the passages I was told to read and praying.

I showed up for my re-test and had no idea how the next three hours would go. Less than three hours later I crossed the finish line in a lot of pain—but within the prescribed time. I was so thankful for being able to try again but also to finish in time. The course came to a close, and it turned out that I was selected to be in the Ranger Regiment.

I returned to Ft. Jackson, went to church, and told my story to the pastor and my Chaplain. They recognized that the Lord was working inside me and set up a meeting at my house the next day. There I was saved by accepting the Lord Jesus Christ as my personal Savior.

The experience was humbling and exhilarating. I have to thank the three most influential people in my life, Chaplain Fisher, Pastor Ledbetter, and Michele Nunweiler. They cultivated the ground for me and planted the seed. I am humbly thankful to Jesus Christ for germinating that seed.

Original bio: Submitted by FBFI Chaplain Gary Fisher who is currently serving our Country and our Fellowship in Germany. Ray is a man who was saved under his care.

Chaplain Fisher is currently Training Execution Director, USACHCS, Ft. Jackson.

(Originally published in FrontLine • July/August 2003. Click here to subscribe to the magazine.)

Although Proclaim & Defend is the blog of the FBFI, the articles we post are not an expression of the views of the FBFI as a whole, they are the views of the author under whose name they are published. The FBFI speaks either through position statements by its board or through its president. Here at Proclaim & Defend, we publish articles as matters of interest or edification to the wider world of fundamentalist Baptists and any others who might be interested.

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