God saved my life!

Lord Richard Dannatt is a distinguished British Army leader. He was Chief of the General Staff, head of the British Army, from 2006 to 2009. Sir Richard says that death is not the end of life and soldiers need to be better prepared for war and spiritually prepared for death. He believes faith in God can be a great help to all soldiers. He says, “In my business, asking people to risk their lives is part of the job, but doing so without giving them the chance to understand that there is a life after death is something of a betrayal.”

Sir Richard believes God saved his own life on four occasions. Two of these were when he was on active duty in Northern Ireland – where his efforts to save the life of one of his men earned him the Military Cross. In 1973, amid rioting in Belfast, Sir Richard found himself stranded with two of his men in a Loyalist paramilitary area. A hail of gunfire cut down the other soldiers, fatally injuring one, while Sir Richard emerged completely unscathed. In 1975 he was involved in a mine-clearing operation in South Armagh when an explosion killed his company commander, Major Peter Willis. Sir Richard had been walking alongside him moments before but had stopped to study an aerial photograph.

Sir Richard’s third brush with death was in Germany when he fell asleep at the wheel of a car but was fortunate to veer off into a field and stop safely, rather than into the steep bank and wood which bordered the route. He says, “On three occasions, God had shown me his love and protection and challenged me to make a complete commitment to him, but each time I failed to make the response that he wanted. Finally, I had to be stopped so that the lesson could be learned.” While serving in Germany, at only 26 years of age, he collapsed with a stroke, his right side was paralysed, and he couldn’t talk sense. His wife, Pippa, was gently told not to expect too much but after four weeks in bed, he regained his speech and the use of his right arm and right leg.

He says, “Four weeks enforced rest allowed God to speak to me. Although I had been a follower of Christ for several years, I knew that I had only ever given part of my life to him. I’d kept a part for myself. As I lay in bed recovering, I began to reflect that God wanted all my life, not just part. On 11 November 1977, I stopped fighting with God – I fully committed myself to him. On that day I found a far better way of life. To commit myself wholeheartedly to God was to enjoy that peace and purpose in life that only full commitment to Jesus Christ can bring. It was the beginning of a new life in Christ.”

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