I was saddened last week to hear that one of the young men who had been in my church in Charlotte had been killed on duty in Afghanistan last week. Noah Pier came from a wonderful family that was just the typical, all-American, kind of people everyone would love to have as their next door neighbors. Ten children, active in church and ministry, home-schooled, hard-working dad, loving and devoted mother, a rolling dust-storm of laughter, crises, enthusiasm, drama and excitement. Every interaction I had with them over my years as their pastor, I watched them work to see God’s hand in their life, seek God’s direction in their situation and want God’s best for their family.
Noah was a typical teenage guy in many ways. Tall and lanky, trying to “find himself”, struggling with the typical adolescent demons, but driven by something deep within him that wanted to make a difference. At times he could be shy and deferential. At other times, he’d be in your face and on a mission. The Marine Corp was a place that could be both a destination and a necessary instructor in his life and I wasn’t surprised to hear that he had joined.
When I heard that Noah had been killed by an IED in the Marjuh offensive, I lost my breath. Just the Saturday before, the family had called a prayer meeting at 3:00 p.m. and I had stopped to pray for him with many others. I thought of his mother, an incredible mother with a passion for her kids to turn out right that is exemplary and just grieved for her. His dad’s face came to my mind — a man of the kind of work ethic that made this country great. Quiet and strong. Then I thought of the siblings — Tara — a young mom who would deliver a premature baby just hours later as the stress of her loss hit her — she has always been one of my favorite former teens and I am so proud of the fine wife and mother she has become. Luke — who struggles with a horrific illness with bravery and the demeanor of his dad. Shawn — an independent and deeply sensitive sister. Kate — the older sister with a sweet family. Mark — the young man who is now the oldest male sibling. Each kid’s face came to my mind. And I know I joined a thousand others who cried out to the Lord and said, “Why, Lord — why Noah? Why THIS family?” No answers come now of course — we don’t have the privilege of time and perspective and knowledge of God’s master plan and schedule. And even if we did, would anyone be less heartbroken for this dear family?
The story of Noah’s death and journey home can be found HERE. Read it and then pray for the thousands of other grieving families who have also paid this price and pray again, for the Piers. Then hug your sons — regardless of their age. Thank God for the men and women who are in uniform today so that we can sit in our comfy recliners watching mindless TV while stuffing our faces with junk food and griping about Washington politicians. When you see a soldier in uniform in the airport or on the street, thank them. When you hear someone speak of Islam as a religion of “peace” and who think the best way to engage these animals is through sanctions and endless ‘dialogues’ and who thinks that terrorists are people on whom reason will work — think of three letters — I. E. D.
Mark, Vickie and family — you are loved and we are praying for you during these difficult times.