Two afghanistan battles book- end nathan Justice’s Path of the Warrior: Spiritual Lessons from the
Frontlines – it’s what happens between
them that makes the difference.
a corporal with the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (PPCLI),
Justice’s first tour of duty ended after
a march 2006 accident. He and four
others were injured and two were killed
when their armoured vehicle struck an
afghan taxi and rolled off a highway.
“It was my wake-up call,” recalls Justice, realizing his life
could be gone in a second. Returning to the PPCLI base in
Shilo, man., Justice turned to alcohol and drugs to cope. Then
he turned to God.
“God can take any one of us, pick us up from the deepest
pit and do things we never thought possible,” he says. “He
took me from a life of addictions and despair to a life of joy
In his book he describes the scene as the Hercules lifted
off for the return trip’s final leg: “a buddy leaned over to me
and said, ‘are you ready?’ I looked at him, and without even
thinking, I replied, ‘I don’t know, dude.’ But I knew people
A Soldier’s Story
Word Alive Press, 2009.
were praying, and I knew who was with us.”
Justice, a “new believer, raw and emotional,” became
his platoon’s de facto spiritual leader, leading them in
prayer before each mission. In September 2008, weeks
from finishing his tour, Justice’s platoon was ambushed
in the Zhari District of Kandahar province and three
more comrades were killed.
Returning to base, Justice “didn’t know what to say
to God.” His swirling thoughts were interrupted by a
comrade, saying the platoon was waiting: “I looked
up and saw a group of men in a circle all looking at me.
They were waiting for me to pray,” he writes. “It started
to make sense to me. I didn’t have all the answers, but I
knew what my purpose was.”
Path of the Warrior tells his story and looks at how hardships shape our spiritual lives.
“When I’m too weak to deal with certain emotions or don’t
understand something, I have to look to God,” says Justice.
“The deeper the hardship I have to face, the higher I have to
reach God. He always pulls me out.”
Since returning to Canada, Justice transferred to the
air force and is now studying to be a firefighter. He, his wife
anathale-Lee and son Christian moved to Canadian Forces
Base Borden, near Barrie, Ont. Justice intends to eventually
pursue Bible school and possibly military chaplaincy. FT
Canadian Evangelicals are helping build an innovative theological education program for aboriginal
students in North America.
Terry LeBlanc and Ray Aldred, both of
Alberta, are leaders with the North American Institute for Indigenous Theological
Studies (NAIITS). Both are also members
of The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada’s
(EFC) Council for Aboriginal Ministry
The new culturally sensitive program
uses instructional approaches and materials developed by NAIITS, offered through
a partnership with George Fox Evangelical
Seminary in Newburg, Oregon.
“The whole program is deeply rooted
in Native thought and reflects Native concerns,” says LeBlanc, founding chair and
now executive director of NAIITS. The first
offering of the new collaboration is an MA
degree in intercultural studies (see www.
naiits.com). Theological education and
leadership development are key elements.
The first course began in February and,
at press time, 12 students had applied. All
NAIITS courses will be written, directed
and taught by a faculty of international Native scholars. Some will be available online,
allowing students to pursue further education without leaving their own communities. Others will blend online study with
face-to-face time with faculty members.
Some courses will be presented in intense one- or three-week blocks. Some are
scheduled in conjunction with NAIITS’ annual Symposium on Native North American Theology. This year’s symposium,
“Ways of Knowing: Exploring Indigenous
Ways of Understanding,” will be held in
June at Ambrose University College and
Seminary in Calgary.
The partnership between NAIITS and
the Oregon seminary is the “kind of thing
we have hoped for since our first symposium 10 years ago,” says Aldred, a theology
professor at Ambrose and incoming chair
of the NAIITS board.
Theological Education for Aboriginal People
It’s all part of an even larger vision for
NAIITS to provide a range of innovative and
culturally sensitive opportunities for theological education for Native North American
students. NAIITS leaders are now exploring
the idea of a practice-led Ph.D. program in
partnership with the University of Dundee
in Scotland. FT –Mary Lou Harrison