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Rain in the Desert


A Free Will Baptist soldier finds God's hand at work in the desert.


Let It Rain

by Ben Crabtree



The first deployment is unforgettable! While waiting in Baltimore airport for the plane that would take me to a desert war zone on the other side of the globe, I made one final call to my best friend—my wife. I couldn’t hold back the tears as we talked, in spite of the hundreds of soldiers sitting around me.

I muttered the words “I love you” at least a hundred times. I was sick to my stomach because I didn’t know whether or not I would see my family again. I couldn’t even talk to my children because I was crying too hard.

Then my wife did something I will never forget. She prayed. She prayed hard, and she didn’t stop when I got on the plane. Every night my family sits down together and prays for their daddy. They read Psalm 91 and ask for God’s continued protection for me. I can honestly say I have experienced that protection more than once since I arrived in Afghanistan. I have experienced His miraculous intervention again and again.

Even as a soldier, my ultimate desire is to tell others about Jesus. I take every opportunity to share what the Lord has done in my life, and many times, fellow soldiers come to me with questions. One night, a soldier asked the meaning of the phrase, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6).

I was taken aback by his question, to say the least, but the Lord gave me an opportunity to speak to him for nearly an hour. I think the Lord is dealing with him, and hopefully by the time this article appears in print, he will already know Christ as his Savior.


A Dry and Weary Land

I want to share another story with you in this article, however. You might call it one of those “God moments.” After I told this story to Home Missions Director Larry Powell, he asked me to share it with everyone. My hope is that you are encouraged by what I have to say.


Rain in the Desert

As I’m sure you know, Afghanistan is a dry land. I now have more insight into the men of the Bible and the land they inhabited. The mountains, hills, and deserts contain little water. After many months without rain, the land began to get extremely dry. My interpreter told me that the river had dried up, that the country was in dire need of rain. Snow had not fallen as usual, and there was not enough water to supply the needs of the population.

He continued by telling me that once a week, many of his people went to the mosque to pray for rain. Over and over, they begged for rain to fall. As I listened, I am not sure what came over me, but I told him that I would pray that very day for rain. He just stared at me, and I knew the discussion was over.


Rain in the Desert

When my work for the day was completed, I found a place to be alone and said a quick prayer for rain. “Lord, would you use this opportunity to show my interpreter who You are, and let it rain tonight? I know you are God, and I pray for the right words to say.” After praying, I went back to my room to begin my coursework.

When the first notes of the Christian song “Let It Rain” began to play, I felt chills run down my spine. I got up and went to the door. It was raining. Not sprinkling…raining! It rained for five days without stopping. God not only answered my prayer, He went above and beyond. I could hardly sleep that night for my excitement. The next day, I said nothing to my interpreter during my mission. But at the end of the day, he turned to me and said, “Crabtree, you are clean. You are different.” That was the last of our conversation.

Even in an environment where I am not allowed to share the gospel openly, the Lord has given me opportunities to witness. In fact, He has amazed me with the opportunities He has provided! Not only has He sent people to me, He has proven time and again that He is behind me completely. He has demonstrated that the gospel of Jesus Christ is “the way, the truth, and the life,” and He is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9b).

Any time I feel alone, out of place, isolated, or even in danger, I rest peacefully, knowing God is the one and only true God. My Jesus is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He is the Alpha and Omega. The Holy Spirit is with me, and I am never alone. He hears and answers my prayers.

I am not sure if my interpreter will ever come to know Christ. My duty is to live a holy life and to be a light to those who do not know the truth. I am grateful that I have been given an opportunity to serve my country and protect others from the enemies of freedom. As a result of my deployment, I have a deeper appreciation for John 3:16, Romans 3:23, Romans 6:23, Romans 5:8, and 1 John 1:9.


Where Are You Deployed?

It does not matter where our roads lead us, whether it is Afghanistan or across the street. Wherever we go, God wants us to be witnesses to His grace. He will give us the boldness and the words to say if we are just willing to speak up for Him. Jesus has promised to be with us all the way. My goal in writing this article was to encourage you to be a witness where God has placed you, and remember, He will never leave you or forsake you. He might even bring rain to the desert!


About the Writer: PFC Benjamin Crabtree is the son of Home Missionaries Jeff and Donna Crabtree who minister in Canada. “I want to thank everyone for their support,” Ben says. “Please continue to pray for the soldiers who are deployed, and when you get a chance, read Psalm 91 about God’s protection. God Bless!”


©2011 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists