By Douglas Jackson
10 March 2007 – Kuwait, Iraq.
Its 2:30 in the morning and my 20-hour journey has finally ended in Kuwait, at least for now. I’m laying on the cot that the Marine Corps has provided me and with my red lens moonbeam (flashlight), I’m attempting to get some thoughts on paper and out of my head, so I can sleep, but to no avail. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be writing all of this. I realize He’s brought me a long way to get me where I am today, and I’m not referring to physical distance – from failing at Army boot camp five years ago to now successfully completing all the required training to wind up in Iraq as an Infantry Marine.
“Going to Iraq, a blessing?” some may ask, but for a young man who grew up playing “soldier” and became fascinated with this war, it is indeed a blessing. My fascination with the military goes back many years, and it only increased as I came of age and realized His calling in my life.
After high school and up until I joined the USMC, my life was consumed with missions abroad. A construction trip to Peru with my local church lit a fire in me that couldn’t be contained. I saw His people, thousands of miles from my own home, and I admired their passion for Him amid such extreme conditions. “Who’s really the poor one here?” I asked myself. I may have had more material wealth, but those people had a trust and faith that I lacked. If anything, that trip showed me I had the desire, but I lacked the skills needed to really reach out to those around me.
Immediately upon returning, I began to look for “missions training,” and I found an organization called Youth With a Mission (YWAM). I applied for their Discipleship Training School and upon acceptance, packed my bags for Hawaii. The Big Island is home to YWAM’s original base. The founder, Loren Cunningham, felt God’s call to choose a location that would act as a natural land-bridge to Asia and the 10/40 window.
Upon arrival, I knew in my heart, this is the best thing that has ever happened to me. But that’s just the thing; it didn’t “just happen.” Looking back, it’s clear that there were many events that took place to allow this change in my life. We had a three-month lecture phase where we received our training in an outdoor setting with His beauty all around. Guest speakers from around the world were flown in to teach on “Counting the Cost, Spiritual Warfare, Discipleship, Servanthood” and many other topics. It was basically a crash course of how to be a disciple and effectively reach the hurting world around us.
Towards the end of the lecture phase, we begin to focus on the culture of our choice. Some were headed to Cambodia, Thailand, Fiji, China, all throughout Asia and the Pacific Islands.
As for me, I was headed to the Philippines, specifically the main island of Luzon where our focus would be children and others suffering from extreme poverty.
As we stood in a central gathering area on the University of the Nations campus, we craved sleep as the sun was still another hour or so from making its appearance. We stood there as our Discipleship Training School Director commissioned us with the last words Jesus spoke on this earth, “Go into all the nations, making disciples of all you meet, teaching them my ways, and I will be with you until the very end of the age.” More reassuring words could not have been offered up that morning as we set out into the unknown.
Continued in Missionary to Marine, Pt. 2
Douglas is currently serving as infantry Marine at Camp Lejeune North Carolina between his deployments to Iraq. Although a proud a Marine, Doug longs to enjoy the freedoms of a civilian once again and travel the globe uninhibited.