If our broken and battered world is ever rebuilt and restored it will demand leadership and commitment of the highest order.

I have seen, read, and heard all I care to know about war and destruction for the rest of my life. Fear, distrust, animosity and fighting seem to be a way of life for much of the world.

How do we cope with the brutality of military conflict? The war being waged in Iraq has been brief, but because we have been exposed to it 24 hours a day through every possible medium it seems much longer. To find greater peace and less stress you might try limiting your "war entertainment" to an hour per day. It can all be summed up fairly accurately in that brief time frame.

What about those who have family, friends and loved ones directly involved in the execution of the war? Try to imagine the strain and stress that must rest heavily upon them each day. I cannot even begin to understand their anxiety. Injury, pain, and death are always the products of war.

My thoughts and prayers are daily with the people of Iraq. They suffer, bleed, and die just like the allied troops who fight against the regime of Saddam Hussein and are paying a tremendous price to bring freedom to the Iraqi people. Consider the children on both sides of the conflict whose lives are being distorted and destroyed. There always remains a terrible emptiness in the lives of children who lose a parent or a sibling. And the feeling is just as empty, perhaps more so, for the parent who loses a child.

We rejoice today throughout West Virginia, USA, because 19-year-old Army Pfc. Jessica Lynch, a nine-day POW, has been rescued. An agonizing emptiness has again been filled with indescribable happiness in the Lynch family and their town of Palestine.

Some who read this story may have a role to play in world building and particularly as it relates to Iraq. Some mission boards have recalled missionaries from the dangerous places in the Middle East. Missionaries are often reluctant to leave the people and nations they have come to love and appreciate. Much of their life has been lovingly invested in the lives of the people they serve.

I once listened to Mother Teresa at an early morning breakfast in Washington, D.C. In that crowd were some of the world's most influential leaders. She pleaded with all of us present to love those who were the weakest and most helpless among us. She was speaking primarily of the unborn babies that might be aborted. At another time she said, "God doesn't look at how much we do but with how much love we do it."

Charles Stanley, brilliant author of "Handbook for Christian Living", a book all concerned with world rebuilding could profitably read, stated: "Character proves to others the seriousness of my commitment. Character expresses interest in the well-being of another's relationships as well as in getting the job done." The United States has made a lot of promises about helping to rebuild Iraq. Our national character for the future will partly hinge on how well we keep our word.

There are thousands of military personnel, teachers, medical specialists, businessmen, construction workers and people from every strata of society with every imaginable skill who stand poised and ready to go back into Iraq to help in the rebuilding process. I believe America will emerge from this conflict with a deepening love and concern for the Iraqi people.

Carl F. H. Henry, my friend and the scholarly theologian of the last half of the twentieth century, put it this way: "We need to decide if we will be mere spectators in the struggle for humanity's mind and will, or whether we will exercise leadership in shaping the course of and outcome of today's battle of conflicting and competing values."

Where there is great need there are thousands who are not willing to be mere spectators. They want to do something good to make a positive difference in a broken world.

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Copyright © 2003 Bill Ellis. All rights reserved.