Published February 3, 2005
Second Baptist Church of Griffin has launched "Operation Desert Hedge," a prayer emphasis to intercede on behalf of the soldiers and families of the 108th Calvary of the 48th Brigade of the Georgia National Guard.
Pastor David Hill said, "We will be praying daily for their protection, strength and success."
On Jan. 16, approximately 800 dog tags were strategically placed across the altar of the Griffin church. A large United States flag was suspended behind the pulpit, stretching from the ceiling to the choir loft. Red, white and blue banners positioned to the right and left side of the flag underscored the patriotic theme chosen for this special day.
The atmosphere in the church was electric as the members worshipped on this special Sunday morning and prepared to make a solemn commitment to pray for their family members, friends and neighbors who had been activated for military service.
Hill got the idea of "Desert Hedge" from Psalm 91, which says, "There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways."
Using Psalm 91 as the text for his message, Hill urged his congregation to pray for a hedge of protection around the United States military forces in Afghanistan and Iraq, and to intercede particularly for the 140 members of the National Guard unit from Griffin soon to be deployed to Iraq.
The soldiers of the 108th Calvary are presently in California training, but will be on the ground in Iraq before the end of spring. The dog tags (at least five for each soldier) at Second Baptist became the focal point of the worship service as members were asked to come forward, get a dog tag and make a commitment to pray for the soldier whose name was represented by the tag.
Many family members of those in the 108th Calvary were present for the morning worship service and were guests for a luncheon provided by the church at the conclusion of the second worship service.
Surrounding and supporting
Hill remarked, "We had an unusually large attendance for the day, but primarily I am thankful that our church responded to the challenge to surround and support these families and soldiers with God's love and the message of His Son. I am confident that our church will be offering heart-felt and genuine prayers to God in 'Operation Desert Hedge.'"
At the invitation hundreds of people flooded the aisles of the church, making their way to the altar to take possession of a dog tag and make a commitment to pray.
Remembering those absent
A prayer was offered and Michael Moore, minister of music, sang a fitting song for the absent soldiers and their families:
"Going away, going away.
It's never easy. It's the price I must pay.
Just know that I love you.
I'd much rather stay.
But duty is calling, and I'm going, going away."
As the worship experience, accented by tears and emotion, came to a close, some in the congregation dried their tears and others bowed their heads. Most clutched their dog tags, holding them close to their hearts.
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