Last time I promised that I would suggest a couple of recent examples of the power I see relationships bring to our world. I warned that these would be examples from outside the Church to illustrate a capacity I believe God has hard wired into people. As you read this start to picture how powerful it could be to tap into this with relationships fueled by “Christ in you.”
The first example comes from an event that is never far from our minds. It was September 11, 2001. If you remember this day, you will quickly get what I am talking about. On that day, one of the many things that astounded us is that while people were doing all they could to get out of the buildings, there was a group of people doing all they could to get in. Now after that day, we call them first responders. On that day, we just knew that firefighters and policeman rose to the occasion. Sadly, many of them died that day.
You can point to training and responsibility as answers for what they did. I think that it takes more than that. I don’t think you can pay anybody enough to condition them to respond that way. I don’t think you can tell them enough times to make them believe it is their job, but I do think you can knit them so tightly together that you can convince them that they are brothers, family. Once you get there, you can get them to do almost anything for each other. That is what we saw.
The last example is this. Who can tell me anything about these two names?
Back in the 90’s when we had troops in Somalia, there was a mission to capture a group of men, part of the organization of Mohamed Farrah Aidid. The delta force operators were flying to the target building. While Army rangers were flying in to set up a perimeter, and a column of trucks and humvees were driving in to pick up the prisoners. It was all supposed to go off like clockwork. In and out in less than an hour.
After dropping their troops, the helicopters were supposed to go into an air support role each of the Blackhawks had a team of three Delta Force snipers providing over watch support. Best laid plans, until the first Blackhawk was shot down. All of a sudden the rangers had to alter their perimeter role and move to the crash site to protect and retrieve a wounded crew. The trucks had to go there after picking up prisoners to get wounded soldiers. Another Blackhawk moved into that position and was also damaged. The pilot thought his chopper was good enough to get back to base. What he didn’t know was that his tail rotor was basically gone. As he moved away from the area of operation, his bird came apart and he crashed.
So here is where it gets hairy. This second helicopter was moving away when it crashed. They ended up a good ways from the first crash site where All the ground troops are headed. There was no one on the ground who could go to the aid of the new crash site and so the airborne commanders and the General back at base send a Blackhawk to the new crash site.
There are places online that you can read about this and there are a couple of books too, or you can watch the movie “Blackhawk Down”. What I am sharing with you is mixture of those. My version seems pretty close to what I’ve read but may be tainted a little by Hollywood. In any case, the snipers on that newest Blackhawk on the scene of the second crash site were Gary Gordon, Randy Shughart and Brad Hollings. Gordon saw all the people moving toward the crash site to do harm to the crew. He asked for permission to be inserted. The command denied his request. They thought the team would be more effective in the air. Time goes by and he asks at least one more time and maybe a third. As portrayed in the movie, the commanding general wants to speak directly to them. He makes them ask him for permission. He makes sure that they know that he has no idea when he can send them help.
They express that they understand and still want to go in. The documentation indicates that Gordon was convinced that it was the only hope for the crew if they were even still alive. Brad Hollings had taken over the machine gun on the chopper due to an injury so Gordon and Shughart repel down and get to the crash site. They find the pilot Michael Durrant alive. They get him away from the wreck to a safer place and go to work defending the site. Both are killed. Mike Durrant survived to write a book about it called “In the Company of Heroes”. He is convinced that he is alive because even though they could see throngs of people moving to the crash, they still came down.
I distinctly remember the first time I saw that. I literally prayed “God where does that kind of courage come from?” John Ortberg asked about Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in his sermon “How does a human heart get shaped like that?” My mind immediately went to the first responders and to Gordon and Shughart. Call it esprit de corps or whatever. We as humans apparently have this capability within us. Somewhere way back in time, probably way before the Roman Empire, somebody figured it out. For centuries they have tapped into that and trained soldiers that way. We apparently train fire fighters and police that way too. Ponder that as we look at Daniel in a den of lions. Next post we will bring this all together.