Faith in God Sustains Deployed Pilot

By Capt. Seth Cole With Chris Sneller

From a satellite television in our Kuwaiti base we watched a startling news report.

Allegedly the Iraqi army had placed barrels of chemical weapons around Baghdad. And we were headed there. Two rotors spun overhead on my CH47D Chinook heavy-lift helicopter as we raced toward Baghdad.

Sweat dripped down my face as cockpit temperatures hovered between 130 and 140 degrees. Ventilation from a small window felt like a hairdryer -- on high and hot -- blowing in my face. Several thoughts raced through my mind.

As a pilot, I thought about my aircraft. Iraqi forces take potshots with surface-to-air missiles that can't be warded off with our three M-60 machine guns.

As a flight platoon leader, I thought about the other Chinooks and the soldiers in my care.

As a husband, I thought about my wife, Courtney. We got married one month before an 8-month deployment to Afghanistan. Three weeks after returning home, I was sent to Iraq.

But as a follower of Christ, I trusted in my heavenly Father. When other soldiers were breaking down physically and mentally, I survived because of my relationship with Christ.

Growing up in Southern California, my family attended church. Something was missing in my life, though. I believed in God, but I didn't know Him.

I knew I was a sinner and that my relationship with God wasn't right. After church, I would watch television preachers. One Sunday, after watching Billy Graham, I placed my faith in Christ. Not until college did I comprehend the magnitude of my decision.

I attended Texas A&M University and participated in the Corps of Cadets -- a leadership program connected to ROTC. There I met Dave Preston and Dave Wilson, staff members with Campus Crusade's Military Ministry.

Through "the Daves" and through a local church, I grew in my faith like never before. Growing closer to Jesus surpassed any other aspect of college. Now God sustains me in difficult times.

Even though there were no barrels of chemical weapons waiting for us in Baghdad, I can't imagine worse living conditions than what we experienced. For 2 months we flew nonstop. We were shot at. We didn't shower. I even lost 40 pounds.

But I coped by trusting in God. And I talked about Christ as much as my position as an officer allowed.