Thursday, February 9, 2012

National Prayer Breakfast at Whiteman Air Force Base

On Tuesday I had the opportunity to speak at the National Prayer breakfast at Whiteman Air Force Base (read their base newspaper article here). To say it was a privilege and an honor would be a serious understatement. John Isaac was able to come along as well, which was a tremendous blessing.

Whiteman is the home of the B-2 bomber, in fact it is the only B-2 Bomber base anywhere. They have a total of 20 Bombers, each costing right at 2 BILLION dollars (yes, BILLION).

I was invited through a friend from our seminary days in Phoenix, Kevin Hostettler. While at Seminary, I was impressed with Kevin because he was a young guy who served as pastor of a small church in San Carlos, AZ - on the Indian reservation. It was quite a missions opportunity and I admired his sacrifice and service. He began to stay with our family on class nights, which lead to lots of late night conversations and theological debates, through which we both learned some things.

He is now one of the protestant chaplains at the base and set up the invitation. They really rolled out the red carpet for us, thinking through every little detail, with every minute of the day accounted for on our 5 page itinerary.

The day started with the actual prayer breakfast, where I spoke for about 15 minutes to a group of 150 or so, after a moving color guard presentation, a powerful version of the Star Spangled banner, some other songs, and some prayers and introduction.
Presenting the Colors

You can just barely see JI and I to the right. I'm the one NOT in camo...
I spoke on the theme of courage, and Dennis Rainey was gracious enough to allow me to take some books to give away. I chose the theme of courage so that I could incorporate giving away his new book for men (subtitled "A Call to Courageous Manhood.") Also gave away a copy of Barbara Rainey's book on courage, since there were some non-men in the crowd.

Most seemed to stay engaged during the talk, and they loved the books, in fact, many came looking for extra copies afterward. Also wanted to let them know about our new "Finally Home to Family" campaign that allows any active duty military free registration to one of our conferences.

Speaking without any arms.

General Vander Hamm (amazing guy with 11 home-schooled kids!) had fun ribbing me about my weak stomach in a Cessna (yes, it is sad). It was pretty intimidating to admit this in front of B-2 Pilots, but I think they could tell by looking at me that I haven't been in a high performance plane before.

General Vander Hamm Presenting a gift

Afterwards we toured a former underground Missile Launch station which was quite remarkable. Whiteman used to have 100 missiles underground, spread out over central Missouri. We could have stayed there for hours, but had to keep moving.

Drawing of Underground bunker. Ridiculous. They built 10 of these for launching the 100 missiles. Did all the construction in 2 years. Crazy amounts of concrete and dirt moved.
Map of the Missile sites. Kansas City is the Orange Blob on the Left. Each section represents 10 missiles and one launching station, spread out over many miles for safety and security.

JI Closing the 10 ton bunker door (one of two). This huge chunk of steel moved almost effortlessly.

The Command center. Guys would spend 24hr shifts in these. yuk!

This is "The Switch" (on the right above the computer keyboard). JI got to turn it. Nothing happened.

Next we were able to get up close to a genuine B-2, even met with the pilot and crew and climbed up in the cockpit. Quite a feeling to sit in the pilot seat.

You can just barely see my mug in the cabin

JI preparing to enter the cockpit

All in all it was an amazing day, filled with amazing people who serve our country and give of themselves sacrificially. It was an honor that both John Isaac and I will not be likely to forget anytime soon.

JI telling tales with the airmen


Kevin H said...

It was an honor to have you here. You were such a blessing to the folks. Still receiving positive feedback.

God Bless you, John!

Ch Hostettler

John said...

That was great to see all the pictures and read all the great stories. So happy to know the Air Force is encouraging faith in God this way. So glad you had this opportunity.