I was in the army in September 1993 and the company to which I was assigned was sent to Somalia to be a part of the ongoing low intensity conflict that was happening there. We were posted at the now student-less Somali National University campus.
Once there my eyes were opened to the ultimate consequence of a clash of worldviews:
The first was the Western worldview which was still very loosely based on its historic Judeo-Christian roots–compassion, charity, and a value of human life.
The original rationale for the operation in Somalia was to deliver food to the victims of famine in the country’s interior.
The second was the Islamic worldview which is based on law, authority, and power. The very word ‘Islam’ means ‘to submit.’ Their ultimate goal in this world is conquest. Even some Muslims with whom I have chatted have admitted that this is ultimately what their belief system espouses. This is believable since the warlord leading the opposition to the U.S. presence was an Islamic leader trying to prevent the food from making it to the famine victims so he could gain power over them.
One morning after a four-hour attack on our compound the night before, there was an eerie silence as the recovery crews went into the field in front of the university campus to pick up the bodies of the preceding night’s battle.
What level of evil lurks in the hearts of mankind that could produce such a result? How could a small war break out that was between those trying to aid the poor and those trying to stop the aid from getting to those people?
Then it came to me. From the cross, the ultimate lover Jesus said to His Father, ‘”Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.”‘ Even as He hung there, taking the sin of the world upon Himself, Jesus’ ultimate expression was of love, even for His tormentors and executioners.
Christianity is based on sacrificial love, a willingness to serve, and dedication to follow One who modeled love by His life, death, resurrection, and eventual return for His own.
Fr. Michael Carl is a U.S. Army veteran, an ordained priest in the Charismatic Episcopal Church, is an active priest at a church in Massachusetts and holds two Master’s Degrees. He has 18 years of ministry experience and 18 years of journalism experience, both in print and radio.