A former general's message of hope
by Sherrie Norris
Retired Lt. Gen. Jerry
Boykin, former commander of the U.S. Army's Delta Force, will bring a message
of hope and inspiration to the High Country at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 25,
when he speaks at Watauga High School in Boone.
Following a distinguished
military career of 36 years, Boykin transitioned quickly into the ministry and
has, for the last five years, traveled the country, challenging Americans with
his life-changing presentations.
Boykin will speak on
"Freedom, Family and Faith" -- a unique opportunity for the area and one "that
fell from heaven right into our laps," said retired Presbyterian minister Marty
Burnham of Newland.
Burnham learned months ago
of Boykin's plans to be in the High Country on Friday, Aug. 24, and was
delighted when the former general agreed to extend his visit.
Burnham assembled a group of
local Christian leaders to help coordinate the event.
Currently an ordained
minister, founder and executive director of the Fayetteville-based Kingdom
Warriors ministry, Boykin also serves as the executive vice president of the
Family Research Council in Washington, D.C. He is also the Wheat professor of
leadership studies at Hampden-Sydney College in Farmville, Va.
Born in New Bern, Boykin
most recently served at the Pentagon as deputy undersecretary of defense for
intelligence, overseeing the gathering and exploitation of intelligence during
the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Boykin's military career
began in 1971 when he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the infantry
from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech).
He served for more than 24
years in Joint Special Operations, with a command at every level.
He was one of the original
members of the U.S. Army's Delta Force. During a telephone interview on
Wednesday, he called it "a privilege" to have commanded the military's elite
He participated in
clandestine operations around the world, beginning with Desert One, the 1979
mission to rescue American hostages held in Iran after the Islamic revolution
that toppled the shah.
He participated in the
invasions of Grenada and Panama in 1983 and 1989, respectively. He accepted the
surrender of Manuel Noriega and headed the chase to capture Colombian drug czar
Pablo Escobar in 1992.
In 1993, he clashed with
Muslim warlord Osman Atto in Somalia, chronicled in the film "Black Hawk Down."
He spoke on Wednesday of
that time as being "the greatest crisis in faith I ever had."
After that 18 hour-battle,
he said, "a five-ton truck came back into base carrying the bodies of our dead
and wounded piled on top of each other. Blood poured out of that truck like
water. I was so emotionally and spiritually battered that when I returned to my
barracks, I asked God, "where were you? How did you allow this to happen?"
Boykin said he heard, "There
is no God. If there was, he wouldn't have allowed this to happen."
Then, Boykin said, "The Lord
spoke to me in an audible voice and told me, 'If there is no God, there is no
hope.' Like Peter, even though I am not comparing myself to such a man of
greatness, I repented immediately, and my faith was restored. That day was the
most difficult of my entire life. I even said to God that I was sorry I doubted
him. As I opened my Bible that day, I asked him to give me the word to help me
understand it all. My Bible opened to Proverbs 3: 5, which said, 'Trust in the
Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.'"
Boykin said, "If you believe
the Bible is the inspired word of God and that it is his message to you, in
times of confusion and need and even desperation, you can find a message in
Boykin also served as
commander of the U.S. Army Special Forces Command and as commandant of the John
F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School at Fort Bragg.
He served six years in
Intelligence (two with the CIA) and was a member of the National Security
Policy Coordinating Committee for Terrorism and Coordinating Sub-Group for
His memoir, "Never
Surrender: A Soldier's Journey to the Crossroads of Faith and Freedom," was
released in 2008.
He has also authored two
novels, "Danger Close" and "Kiloton Threat."
Boykin continues to support
our military and promote a strong national defense as a board member with
Freedom Alliance, and encourages patriotism and public service as a board
member with the Joe Foss Institute.
His most important mission,
he said, is in his current role that encourages Christians to be bold in their
Boykin became a Christian in
January 1971, "after just three weeks in the Army."
"I grew up in a church and I
knew what it meant to receive Jesus Christ as your savior, but I never made
that commitment," he said. "When I finally got out of college and into the
army, I felt the Holy Spirit really pressing into me. I felt God saying that he
had a purpose and a plan for my life, but that it would never be fulfilled
unless I submitted to him."
Boykin said that he knelt
down in a room at Fort Benning in Georgia "with no one around me" and made that
He always carried a pocket
Bible with him and everyone knew it, but he didn't flaunt it.
"My approach to faith was
not one of preaching or proselytizng, but living my own personal faith and
giving people the opportunity to approach me," he said. "Everyone knew I was a
Christian and that I read the Bible and believed it. The way I lived was far
more important than what I said to them. They wanted to see if I was the real
Boykin said he "didn't do
everything right," and was "just as flawed as the next person, but God showed
me favor and allowed me to lead people to Christ."
Criticism regarding his
Christian walk was among his greatest battles, Boykin said.
"Most of it was levied by
the media. When they first started, it was very painful," he said. "For the
first time in my life, I faced a battle that I didn't know how to fight.
Through that, as most crises in my life, I had no choice but to submit this to
God and allow him to fight the battle for me."
He is still criticized
today, he said.
"But, the more they
criticize me, the tougher I become," he said. "I refuse to let my critics
determine the future of America."
Boykin said he loves to talk to Americans about their responsibilities and their need to "be better informed and to get involved."
"Americans need to get out and vote, not just for the president, but for the school board and county commissioners on up," he said. "They need to get behind the candidates and know who they are voting for. If they can't find a suitable candidate, they need to run for office, themselves. People of faith need to be in the process."
Boykin said there was
"nothing major," that he would do over, given the chance. "There are lots of
little things, but I am satisfied."
He went from his military
career directly into ministry and writing, he said, and hasn't looked back.
Boykin and his wife, Ashley,
have five children and six grandchildren -- "a powerful motivator," he said.
"After watching our
grandchildren rollicking in our floor last Christmas, my wife and said we don't
want to go to our grave with them saying it was our generation that gave away
America," Boykin said. "Our motive for doing what we do is so they get to live
in the same America as we lived in."
"Boykin was very politically incorrect in speaking about Jesus, especially in uniform," Burnham said. "He still dares to speak the unthinkable. He will tell the truth about his work with God and about his work in this country -- and about the Muslim belief. We are going to have a very interesting day."
Mark your calendars for Aug.
25 for a powerful message from one who knows how to fight the battle. Admission
Boykin will also speak at Cornerstone Summitt on Sunday morning.