About a year ago I got interested in studying what happened in Mogadishu back in 1993 and leading up to it. One name that came up repeated was Jeff Struecker. That name stuck with me and when I was doing some more research recently, I saw that he had become a U.S. Army chaplain and had penned a book called The Road to Unafraid.
This book is an autobiographical account of how Struecker faced challenges as a teen, as a Ranger, and how he heard his call to ministry. The bulk of the book is dedicated to that first battle of Mogadishu and he candidly talks about the emotions he was feeling, especially that one many of us don’t like to admit we have: fear. Fear is ever present. I heard it once said that the only ones who don’t feel fear are the foolish. We all have fears, even elite Army Rangers. Struecker’s account of the battle that day is filled with how he faced that emotion of fear, and how he dealt with it. His faith carried him through.
The book also talks about how his childhood was far from perfect. Parents divorced at four, mom with a steady string of marriages and divorces (3 while he lived under her roof), and any lack of real engagement by dad showed that he grew up in a less than ideal situation, but he refused to let that hold him down. Rather, he used it as fuel to drive himself further. It concludes with his call to ministry, the struggle that grew to be especially in the opinion of some of the other soldiers, and some of the challenges his family faced as he followed the call and went to seminary. Struecker and his family were faced with some hard choices, but they made them together, and friends (especially military ones) pulled together to help.
If you’re looking to learn more about Mogadishu, this is a good book for it. Struecker presents a first-person witness to the events of that day and you’ll gain some insight from him that you won’t with other sources. If you’re looking for a book to encourage you in your faith, especially if you are facing tough situations in life or are contemplating a call to ministry, this is an excellent read for both. If you’re looking at how to face fear properly, Struecker gives a blueprint for that, too. It’s embedded in his faith in Jesus Christ. As he points out, the greatest thing we can fear on this earth is death. But for the Christian, death is victory. As Paul wrote, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21, NASB)