My name is Logan Laituri, and I served in OIF II during 2004. As a forward observer for the artillery, my responsibility was the wanton destruction of indiscriminate proportions. Throughout my time in the Army, I submitted myself to our country obediently; training diligently under my master, the Sword. Forward observers, of whom I was one of the worst, are masters of the craft of mortality. I made an excellent Saul of Tarsus, a prime student in the way of death. I was an enemy of God.
However, not long ago I was given the supreme privilege of seeing firsthand the error of my ways. Like Saul, the stones have fallen from my hands as a result of a profound experience in the Middle East. Tonight I stand before God and before you all a changed man; I now am a peacemaker for the Kingdom of Heaven.
Mine was a dark and uncertain path, a journey I hope to illuminate for others because of my own deep-seated belief that the Kingdom needs more who are ready to wage peace as soldiers for Christ with as much ferocity as I once waged war as a centurion for Caesar; to create and develop peace where other children of God enjoy so little. Exactly one year before his assassination, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. explained to the Riverside Church in New York City why the necessity and urgency of peacemaking could not be ignored. He told them;
“I must be true to the conviction that I share with all people the calling to be a child of the living God. Beyond the calling of race or nation or creed is this vocation of sonship and brotherhood,
and BECAUSE I believe that the Father is deeply concerned especially for His suffering and helpless and outcast children, I come tonight to speak for them .”
As Dr. King spoke for Vietnam, I tonight speak on behalf of Iraq; both nations falling victim to our modern military industrial complex. I speak for the children whose schools we bombed, for the families we left decimated, for the sick and elderly whose hospitals we occupied, and most importantly, for the men and women who have lost their very lives – both Iraqi and American. I speak for the dignity and humanity that their lives deserve and require, and against the horrific reality that the same lives they gave have been used to justify further violence; as if the tears their loved ones have shed will be dried by the blood of another victim of the myth of redemptive violence.
It is for my Christian and Muslim brothers and sisters that I am compelled to ask our leaders that true justice be served in Iraq. Not the vengeful justice that the world serves, however, but the redemptive justice God offers through His son’s cross; a cross that does not force its suffering upon its neighbors, but shoulders the burden willingly and sacrificially for them, no matter their race or religion.
In June 2006, as I prepared to return to Iraq, I offered myself as a sacrifice to such peace. I applied to be a noncombatant conscientious objector, to return to combat as a weaponless soldier; a uniformed volunteer for the new Kingdom force of peacemakers who are eager to beat their pistols into pruning shears, their grenades into garden hoes. To see and to share our Father’s Kingdom on earth as it is in Heaven.
I wanted to forego my own physical security so that Iraqis would understand that God desires mercy, not sacrifice stained with Iraqi blood. In a world that grasps the mystery of the atom and rejects the Sermon on the Mount, my attempt at biblical peacemaking was utterly incomprehensible. I was called crazy, treasonous, and a coward.
I am in love with Jesus, the great comforter, who gently and confidently reminds me that I do not need even an ounce of quantifiable success to please Him; that His Kingdom measures victory differently than the world we now inhabit.
I am captivated by Jesus, the suffering servant, who died rejected and humiliated, a victim of the Empire’s campaign of shock and awe; His own disciples mourning their master’s failure.
I am humbly submitted to Jesus, the courageous fool, who saw the impossible task before Him, the insurmountable obstacles, the immense physical pain, and did it anyway.
He did it for another world, who waits even now for us to welcome her.
He did it for His Father, whose name is Love,
And most importantly, He did it for His enemies; sinners like me and you.
Dr. King ends his speech with that pivotal Kingdom value of hope. He pleads;
“Now let us rededicate ourselves to the long and bitter – but beautiful – struggle for a new world. This is the calling of the children of God, and our brothers wait eagerly for our response.”
I have watched life seep slowly from the eyes of innocent children, from the lungs of elderly men and women, and from the veins of young soldiers and jihadists alike. I am here to tell you it is all the same color. Life is all the same color. No human word; whether written, spoken, whispered, or prayed, will ever make these brothers and sisters any less our own.
If a single one of us returns home to sleep peacefully in our bed, without a second thought as to how we might take up our cross; their memory – and Jesus’ very purpose – dies with them.
Will we have the faith to do what He has done? Will we do even greater things than these?
Will we wage Peace?
Our brothers and sisters wait eagerly for our response…