Prayer can be a shield

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 7, 2004

Suffolk News-Herald

The military gives U.S. troops in Iraq more than superior weaponry and training.

Many of the nation’s military leaders – as well as residents, family members and fellow citizens – also give soldiers a protective shield of prayer.

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&uot;Every day is a day of prayer,&uot; said Lt. Gen. William G. Boykin, undersecretary of defense for intelligence.

Boykin, speaking before more than 500 people at the 20th Annual Suffolk Leadership Prayer Breakfast Thursday, said he starts each day with a prayer for the country’s fighting forces.

&uot;My first prayer every morning is that God’s Holy Spirit will sweep over the men and women in Iraq, that He will be with and protect them.&uot;

Boykin is not alone, said retired U.S. Army Major Gen. Joe Gray, now a homeland security consultant whose office is based in the Pentagon.

Each week, Gray meets with a small group of colleagues – senior military officers or executives – for prayer groups and Bible studies.

&uot;We pray for each other and for each and every seaman and soldier still out there,&uot; he said. &uot;…When my brothers-in-arms ask for prayer, that is when I get on my knees and pray.&uot;

People also need to pray for local leaders on the home front, Boykin said.

&uot;Police and firefighters are on the front lines here in our community. They are doing battle out there everyday,&uot; he said. &uot;Who died first on 9-11? It was these warriors – the police and firefighters.

&uot;There is a continual threat out there that is very real,&uot; Boykin continued. &uot;America is at war. We need to recognize this and come to grip with the fact that wars are not won overnight.&uot;

Another speaker, Walid Shoebat gave listeners a glimpse into his former life as a terrorist with the Palestine Liberation Organization.

Shoebat, born into a Muslim family in Bethlehem, said he was raised to hate Jews and Americans. As a child, he was taught to believe the United States should be destroyed because it isn’t named in the Bible.

Then he discovered Christianity and his life changed.

&uot;I used to be a terrorist (with the Palestine Liberation Organization.),&uot;Shoebat said. &uot;Now I am an American and a Christian.

&uot;…What a nation this is that prays for its enemy.&uot;