Chaplains hear 'Black Hawk Down' hero
By Mickey Noah
Capt. Jeff Struecker has walked "The Road to Unafraid," an experience he described vividly in his book by the same name. As an Army chaplain with the 75th Ranger Regiment at Fort Benning, Ga., he continues to walk with Jesus Christ, leading many of his fellow soldiers along the way. Introduced as a true American hero in the 1993 "Black Hawk Down" firefight in Somalia, Struecker told an audience of 150 at the annual Southern Baptist chaplains' luncheon June 11 that chaplaincy is a ministry that most resembles the ministry of Jesus when He walked the earth. "I love pastors, but a pastor may only serve his people a couple of hours a week," Struecker said jokingly as the chaplains, many of whom also are pastors, reacted with good-natured laughter.
"An evangelist may see a person for only a few minutes and won't see that person again this side of eternity," Struecker said. "A missionary will leave his home, family and friends, dedicate his or her life to studying the culture and languages of a people group, and then spend the rest of their lives serving and sharing his faith with those people." But the missionary never will be truly a member of that group, he said. Chaplains live, eat, breathe and sleep with their flock, Struecker said. Chaplains also fight, live and die with the men and women to whom they minister.
"This is exactly the same kind of ministry Jesus Christ had," he said. "He was one of the people but radically different from them at the same time."
One of the characters depicted in the 2001 movie Black Hawk Down is based on Struecker, coauthor the book The Road to Unafraid in which he tells the story of his battle experiences, especially his fateful assignment as an Army Ranger sergeant in a special operations unit sent to Mogadishu, Somalia, in 1993. At the time, Somalia was run by Muslim warlords and was a dangerous place to be. Struecker was among those who survived an intense 18-hour battle with local Muslim fighters.
"Before that day in Somalia, I was convinced I'd always be a soldier, a warrior and a Ranger for the rest of my life," Struecker recounted. "I had made up my mind that I'm going to serve in the most dangerous situations my country can put me in. That was fine with me.
"But a firefight in Somalia absolutely, radically changed my life, and a faith in Jesus Christ gave me the courage to stand fearlessly when men were dying to my left and right…
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