Perfect Mission

Perfect Mission


It was a clear, freezing winter night at a small counterterrorism base in the mountains of eastern Afghanistan. Like the night before, and the night before that and weeks of nights before that, the team geared up and readied for another C/K (short for Capture/Kill) mission. As a Chaplain deployed with a Special Operations Task Force, I provided spiritual and religious support for over 150 such missions.

The target objective was a particularly bad guy with a history of weapons transfers and IED (improvised explosive device) placements. He had also coordinated a number of indirect fire (rocket, mortar) attacks on coalition forces, as well as a string of local kidnappings and assassinations. This man had a lot of blood on his hands.

Intelligence had figured out his location, and realized that unless the team could get him that night, he would escape the next day, fading like a ghost into Pakistan until he reappeared and returned to kill again. So, after the moon was down, the team boarded the helicopters. They lifted into the darkness.

Seven hours later it was over. It was what I called a perfect mission. Target captured. Team returned to base with no one killed. No one wounded. No shots were fired. There was no damage to property or livestock. None of the nearly 100 men, women and children living on the target site were injured.

Terrorist leaders often blend into village populations and use women and children as human shields. At extreme risk the team carefully picked their way through groups of people, house to house, room by room. This man was actually found hiding below the floor under a trapdoor, on which a woman feigning illness was sitting.

I remember that mission because the outcome was such a complete answer to the prayer I regularly prayed for the teams just before departure; “…arm your servants with strength, make their way perfect and their mission a complete success. Give the enemy nowhere to run, no place to hide and no will to fight. Fulfill your purpose in the sword of this team for the punishment of evil, the protection of the defenseless, and the preservation of what is good…”

Some nights later the team returned to base from yet another mission. And as the sun was beginning to light up the icy cold eastern sky, we gathered for worship. It was Christmas morning.

One of the SEAL’s wives had sent her husband a carton of small aromatherapy candles. He gave them up for the candlelight service. We heard the gospel writer Luke tell us the story of the holy Nativity. We read from John, “…the true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world…” We prayed. And together we passed the light of Christ from candle to candle. And I must admit that you haven’t lived until you hear bearded, burly Navy SEALs and Army Rangers (attempt to) sing “Silent Night” together.

Why do we celebrate Christmas? There are many good answers to that question. But among them for me is that Christmas is a joyful remembrance of God’s perfect mission. In the birth of Christ, God gave the perfect answer to our desperate need.

Armed with the perfect strength of his love, God gave the perfect gift of his Son. The Word who created all things entered his creation in the perfect way so that the rescue and renewal of all things might succeed … perfectly.

Now the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. Now sin has nowhere to run and no place to hide. Now death has no will to fight because it is impossible for it to prevail in the world where the Author of Life has now entered.

Now evil will be perfectly punished. Now justice will be perfectly carried out. Now salvation and strength and the Kingdom of our God and the power of his Anointed has come. Perfectly.

3 thoughts on “Perfect Mission

  1. Beautiful Pastor Mike – thank you for bringing the Word faithfully, whether from the pulpit or a keyboard. Christmas blessings to you and Sandy – I love you both dearly!
    (See you soon!)


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