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Faith Under Fire: An Army Chaplain's Memoir [Paperback]

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"Running away from God doesn't work. I had tried."
--Roger Benimoff
As he left for his second tour of duty as an Army chaplain in Iraq, Roger Benimoff noted in his journal: I am excited and I am scared. I am on fire for God...He is my hope, strength, and focus.
But not long after returning to Iraq, the burdens of his job-the memorial services for soldiers killed in action, the therapy sessions after contact with the enemy, the perilous excursions "outside the wire" while under enemy fire-began to overwhelm him. Amid the dust, heat, and blood of Iraq, Benimoff felt the pillar of strength he'd always relied on to hold him up-his faith in God-begin to crumble.
Unable to make sense of the senseless, Benimoff turned to his journal. What did it mean to believe in a God who would allow the utter horror and injustice of war? Did He want these brave young men and women to die? In his darkest moment, Benimoff wrote: Why am I so angry? I do not want anything to do with God. I am sick of religion. It is a crutch for the weak.
Benimoff's spiritual crisis heightened upon his return home to Fort Carson, Colorado. He withdrew emotionally from wife and sons, creating tensions that threatened to shatter the family. He was assigned to work at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where he counseled returning soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder-until he was diagnosed himself with PTSD.
Finding himself in the role of patient rather than caregiver, connecting as an equal with his fellow sufferers, and revisiting scriptural readings that once again rang with meaning and truth, he began his most decisive battle: for the love of his family and for the chance to once again open his heart to the healing grace of God.
Intimate and powerful, drawing on Benimoff's and his wife's journals, "Faith Under Fire "chronicles a spiritual struggle through war, loss, and the hard process of learning to believe again.

"From the Hardcover edition."

Item Specifications...

Pages   268
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 7.98" Width: 5.14" Height: 0.6"
Weight:   0.45 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Mar 2, 2010
Publisher   Three Rivers Press
ISBN  0307408825  
EAN  9780307408822  

Availability  0 units.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Insightful! Wish everyone would read this book!  Dec 28, 2009
All deployments are unique as are the individuals going through the deployment...both those serving abroad as well as their families left behind. I am a wife of a US Army Chaplain and my husband is currently serving on his 3rd deployment.

I first became aware of Faith Under Fire when I read Rebekah Benimoff's Redbook article which was e-mailed to myself and other chaplain's wives before our husbands deployed. That article helped me to realize the need to not only pray for physical safety for our military, but also their mental stability and health for the things they might possibly face and experience which could potentially result in PTSD.

I recently bought Faith Under Fire to read the rest of the story. Now I wish I could convince everyone to read this book, both military and non-military. Why?

As a military wife I appreciate the book because I gained insight into a high-speed, intense deployment which in turn helped me to better understand what my husband and others might possibly be facing. It is helping me to prepare for his return, and if he returns changed, I now have a framework to understand why and a framework for the healing process.

As an advocate for military family support, I wish everyone would be challenged to read this book. It is an easy read, and it gives such a good perspective on the challenges of deployment and the challenges of the military family. Our society has to be prepared for the after affects of all the deployments our military are facing. Are our churches and communities going to be there for us? Reading this book would certainly be a good start to understanding the military community and a stepping point for great opportunities to support the military community.

"Faith is something that by its very nature will be tested..." This is one of the many quotes I underlined as I read the book. My greatest appreciation for the book is following Roger's faith journey as he struggled with PTSD. I am so grateful that he and Rebekah had the courage to share their story so that others who read this book and are struggling can find hope in the journey.

Benita Koeman
Founder, Operation We Are Here
A quick, easy read on a difficult subject...  Sep 28, 2009
This is a very easy (yet difficult at the same time) book to read. I am not one to spend a lot of time reading hundreds of books, but this one was recommended by another book I am currently reading (Faith Deployed). As the spouse of a soldier, I found this book to be enlightening on what actually happens over seas and what might happen once the soldier returns. This book brings questions to mind that you will ponder for days after finishing the book.
Honest and Truthful - a book for anyone who struggles with the hard things in life  Sep 18, 2009
This book touched me deeply as it is honest and compelling as it tells of Chaplain Benimoff's struggles with his service in the war in Iraq and with his faith after that service. Although much of what is written would be applicable to those who have experienced war first-hand, it also reaches out to those who suffer from other forms of trauma: divorce, death of loved ones, traumatic illness, etc. How do we reconcile these events with a loving God? So many times these events lead us to question and doubt our faith. And yet it is important to be able to do that honestly and truthfully, as Chaplain Benimoff did. But in the end, the most powerful message in his book (for me) is summed up in his own words: "Any truly difficult time is a war zone--a divorce, the loss of a child, an illness. The emotional violence is the same. In Iraq I once quoted from Hebrews in my journal, "What is faith? It is the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen." But maybe that's not quite it. Maybe it's the confident assurance that, even if you don't always get what you're hoping for, you won't be alone." How true this statement is and how life changing. Thank you Chaplain Benimoff. And thank you for writing this book.
A Courageous Survival  Sep 15, 2009
I wanted to read this book to understand more about day to day life of our soliders in Iraq and I especially wanted to understand how a Chaplain might interact with the soliders while on the battlefield. I felt I knew more than I truthfully wanted to know after I had finished this book. I felt "the realism" of the suffering and emotional distress our soliders endure. The Chaplain in this story gave away all of himself on the battlefield, and recovery for him afterwards was sad and it was not a story "wrapped up with a pretty bow". It is mostly a story of survival,physically and spiritually.
Blessed are the peacemakers (and those who minister to them)...  Jun 4, 2009
You know that recurring dream or nightmare of a typically childhood incident which terrifies you to this day, often waking you from a sound sleep feeling anxious, scared and upset? Fortunately -- at least for most of us -- we recover quickly from these episodes and fall back asleep or go take on the day. Consider the combat soldier, however. He or she will experience real-life episodes of sheer terror, mayhem, and loss of life or limb, including that of battle buddies. Imagine trying to shake that off, not only to get a good night's sleep, but just to get through the day.

Roger Benimoff has written a written a raw and frank account of his two tours of combat with infantry units in Iraq's Sunni Triangle during 2003 and 2005. Benimoff, now a chaplain at Methodist Hospitals in Dallas, recounts his tours of duty and the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder he suffered upon returning from his second deployment.

Faith Under Fire is an eye-opening peek into the world of a combat chaplain, where a typical day might include leading morning devotions, running "outside the wire" with Stryker unit, dodging bullets under fire, administering last rights to a dying soldier, and leading a "critical incident stress debrief" of surviving, often guilt-ridden soldiers. Multiply this times a twelve- or fifteen-month deployment where the chaplain- to- soldier ratio is 1:1000 and you gain a full appreciation for the Herculean task involved.

Benimoff's most striking revelation is the near-loss of his faith as a result of his wartime experiences and PTSD. After withdrawing from his wife and two young children and going through the motions as an Army chaplain, Benimoff finally agreed to enter a V.A. facility for treatment, where he says he reconciled his purpose for being in Iraq, "but beyond that I was lost. I was angry with God, angry with my wife, and mostly angry and disappointed with myself. `Where do I go from here?'" The author intersperses his narrative with journal entries during the war and after his return home. His wife Rebekah's journal entries add another rich perspective to the family's efforts to hold it all together.

I found Faith Under Fire to be a compelling and often harrowing account of one man's test of faith and ultimate redemption. His story, fortunately, has what appears to be a happy ending. Benimoff has graciously provided us with his testimony of faith and service so that we may appreciate the true cost of war upon the soldiers - and the chaplains who minister to them -- who volunteer to fight it.

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