by: Art Greenlee
“…this I know; for God is for me.”
It was a late Saturday morning, the weekend before Thanksgiving. I had weekend duty when I got a radio call from the Deputy Commander for Maintenance, “Apache Thunder” “Yes, sir.” “Come see me.” “Roger.” Turned our 1987 Toyota Corina around and headed back to Maintenance complex. “The Boss wants you to go to Taif, Saudi Arabia, and assist him there on our deployment. Pack your bags you’ll be heading out this Monday.” A bit shocked and wondering, “Why me?” I determined before God that this was why God allowed me to go to England to serve in the USAF as a Maintenance Officer at the 48th Fighter Wing. It was about the 20th of November 1990, and I would be leaving on November 29th… Breaking the news to Amy was what happened next. We lived off base in military housing with our two little ones, Betsy, around 2½ yrs old and Art Jr, just over 1 yr old; and a hyper dog named Prince. With quiet confidence, she spoke with grace, and her support was so genuine. “What would happen to her honey?” “How long would he be gone?” We surrendered our wills to God’s.
Thanksgiving was a bit more sober that year, but my family and members of our church there at New Testament Baptist Church, a military work right outside the gate of one of the local English bases, re-assured us that they would care for her while I was gone.
Monday morning came way too soon. We packed up the kids and headed off to the hangar where the troops were gathering to take off for Saudi. Saying good-bye to my honey and children after praying was probably one of three hardest things I ever did in my life. Then, she was gone, and I felt very lonely. No cell phone to keep in touch…WOW, I was heading to Saudi Arabia to be a part of the Persian Gulf War! The AF’s biggest aircraft, the C-5, was waiting for us on the tarmac to load the troops. Loaded with supplies, as I remember a M-1 Tank and some armored personnel carriers, heading into theater. Our first stop was a layover at Ramstein AB, Germany. On the way, I spoke with another believer who shared with me about temptation (I remember it as if it was just yesterday). He said we get tempted when we forget God. The truth was a good one, and I seemed to be more hungry for truth, having been stripped of normal comforts around the home-front.
A blessing came when, at Ramstein on the layover, the same individual who shared with me, witnessed to a fellow airman in the terminal and he got saved. Praise God! People were more hungry for God for sure.
Being comforted, I re-boarded with that same desire…to see souls saved while deployed. We landed in Taif, Saudi Arabia, at 0230, on the 30th of November. I made my way to the tent city, and at 0330 was knocked out in my bunk in what would be my home away from home for the next 100+ days.
Being the Persian Gulf War did not begin until mid-January, 1991, our unit had been there since late August, 1990, preparing for the inevitable. During the first week I was there, President Bush gave the Iraqi Government the much needed proclamation, “If you are not out by mid-January, we will kick you out.” Awesome, we now had direction and purpose. Our training now while deployed took on new meaning.
Missing my family and only able to make one phone call that I had arrived safely, I was left with the Word of God and sweet prayer, calling out to God to bless my family, bless our mission, and let me be used to see souls saved, Christians helped, and the backslidden directed back to God.
I was a F-111F maintenance officer in charge for the safe maintenance and operation of 12 aircraft. Within the first couple days, while reading through Psalms, God gave me an amazing verse that would be the verse I could claim as key while serving in Saudi Arabia. It was perfect for the situation and circumstance God placed me in – Psalm 56:9 – “When I cry unto thee, then shall mine enemies turn back. This I know for God is for me.” Praise God, there it was, so real for America’s and our partners’ purpose for the war effort, and now what I needed to believe that both God and I by faith would do. I would cry unto the Lord that He would turn back the enemy, and I would be confident that my God was for me and our cause. What an awesome truth!
How wonderful this Scripture was as I shared it with other believers and the lost. It was so relevant to our situation, and it got people’s attention – the saved, the lost, and the backslidden in heart. God used this Scripture and the prayer meetings, Bible studies, and preaching services to see over 10 saved and five come back to Him. At the end of our tour of duty there, the weekend before we headed home after our victory, we filled up the back of a pick-up truck with water and saw 7 baptized.
What are you crying about Christian? Let your crying be over any enemy that comes against our great nation, but also against your life as well. Whether it be Satan, fears, laziness, prayerlessness, doubt, anger, or dreams shattered, your enemy is anyone or anything that tries to steal, kill, and destroy our testimony, life, and faith. Crying out to God gets His attention and increases our intensity to beg God to come to our aid.
Then the quiet confidence sets in – “…this I know, for God is for me.” What do we know? God can and will turn back our enemies. We also know He has proven Himself faithful in times past, and He will do it again. “God is for me” gives us both a joy and conviction, as we ask God to search our hearts to be sure we are for Him. “God is for me” in my salvation and now being saved “God is for me” forever! “God is for me” reminds us that we have his grace, and with this power and help we can face any enemy. Truly “God is for me,” and with this truth deeply planted in our hearts, we are reminded that although everything may seem to be against me, with God for me who or what can be against me? “We can’t lose for winning!”
Seeing the Iraqis turned back, I rejoiced in a God who showed me once again, He is the God of His Word and His Word is truth. The return home, and seeing my 2½ year old Betsy break ranks and run to her Daddy when I arrived back to the 48th hangar I left from, still to this day brings me to tears. Oh, my God you sure are for me! Thank God for this simple truth, seeing His Hand turn back the enemies when I cried unto Him. We can confidently walk knowing that as His child, He is for me. Thank God for this timeless truth!
Mount Olivet Baptist Church