When the bomb went off, Sloan heard God say, “You’re not going to be killed. You’re not going to be maimed.” The lead truck was blown 20 meters onto its roof, and the gunner from that truck was chucked like a rag doll 150 meters to the south. The improvised explosive device (IED) left a crater fifteen feet wide and ten feet deep, and threw Sloan’s truck out and away, past a burning vehicle and onto what was left of a wall. Five of his men were dead. Of the ten survivors, seven were wounded, leaving three men to fight eighteen insurgents.
Sloan threw open the door of his truck, and a grenade fell right where he was going to put his feet. He slammed the door, braced against the explosion, and then opened the door a second time. Another grenade landed in the same spot, so he shut the door again— this time on his rifle barrel. Still, nothing touched him.
The attacks seemed to be coming from the south. Sloan shoved open his door a third time and ran around to the north side of the truck. He wanted to get his soldiers out and get them into the fight. The door on that side was jammed. While he yanked on it, machine-gun fire came up from behind him, spattering left and right into the truck, and another grenade dropped at his feet. He flashed a look over his shoulder and dove toward a pile of rubble. Now Sloan decided his soldiers were safer in the truck than out fighting, and he moved behind a piece of wall to begin returning fire and scanning the wreckage for wounded. His medic, Sergeant Shin Kim, who had been stuck in the vehicle, crawled through to the front and managed to get out the passenger door. Shin was Sloan’s shadow—everywhere Sloan went, Shin went. Shin crouched and headed to the wall, without a weapon. Sloan noticed and reached down for his sidearm, but shrapnel had cut the strap, and the holster was dangling by his kneepad. As he was groping for it, hurrying to get the weapon to Shin, another hand grenade dropped—right in between them. They were within two feet of one another. Sloan yelled “Grenade!” and blindly threw himself in a backward arc. Everything shook violently and rock and burning debris pelted him.
When he got up, Shin was face-down on the ground. There were machine gun piffs going off all around him in the dirt. Sloan grabbed Shin by the back of his flak vest and dragged him over the pile. Shin had shrapnel in his forehead, and his eyes were going different directions. Sloan knew by the way Shin lay in the street that he had stepped in front of the grenade.
By then, the other two soldiers had managed to escape from the truck and reach the wall. One soldier was an EMT. Sloan told him to work on Shin and handed a weapon to the other, saying, “Shoot anything not in [our] uniform.” They continued the fight until a second patrol came flying up from the south with guns blazing, and an Apache helicopter appeared overhead. Just the sight of the Apache was enough to stop the battle. The enemy immediately broke contact.
Sloan thought he’d escaped with just a few scratches, and when he arrived at the combat hospital in Baghdad—in the green zone—he said, “Give me a couple of Band-Aids, and I’ll be on my way.” He figured to be back out in sector the next day. Instead, he was rushed into surgery and heard, “Count back from ten.” Sloan didn’t even get to nine before he fell into unconsciousness. But he did so remembering God’s promise that he would not be killed or maimed, and he had a good supply of the Word of Life already deposited in his heart. It had been a long journey.
Growing up, Sloan had seen mostly phonies in the church—religion was full of hypocrites and all about manipulating people. At twelve, he stopped believing there even was a God, and until he was thirty, he said, “Life is only a light switch. You’re here and when the light goes out, there’s nothing.” He was a “type-A” guy who took care of business, got things done. He clung to what was black and white and to his own sense of honor and loyalty.
But that code of conduct did not help him when his marriage fell apart. So, during lonely hours in a hotel room, he halfheartedly tried the “spiritual thing” again. Taking a Gideon Bible out of the nightstand, he said, “God, if you’re real, I need to know.” He flipped the Bible open. The first place his eyes landed was Jeremiah 17:9—“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Sloan got mad! He thought I don’t even understand what that means—that’s worthless! and threw the Bible back in the drawer. One month later, after alcohol and depression had taken their toll, he held a pistol to his head. But something—some force—stopped him, and he thought perhaps he could give himself one more chance. He decided to call his dad and go to church.
When Sloan walked into the service, he looked at the people sitting in the pews and felt like a lion in a room full of sheep. He judged them: Why did I come here? These people are weak individuals. Then he thought, Funny thing is, I’m the one who had a .45 to my head last night. When the pastor started to explain Jeremiah 17:9, Sloan felt like he’d been hit with a hammer. There was no way that man could have picked that one scripture by chance out of such a big book—the odds were higher than winning the lottery. God said, “Sloan, you think I don’t exist, but I’ve been here the whole time. Even though you didn’t welcome Me, I’ve been here.”
During his last tour in Iraq, Sloan’s dad sent him “secret” packages—blank CDs that he burned with Andrew Wommack’s teachings. Unsure of what he could send, he didn’t label them but numbered them and put them in a plain wrapper. Sloan liked how Andrew spoke—“straight up”—and he stuck like glue to the Word. He began to get Andrew’s teachings from the internet as much as he could. It would take four to five hours to download one MP3, so he’d start the process and go on patrol amid the insurgents. When he got back, he’d listen to something like Lessons from Elijah.
The attack happened on June 28, 2007. After surgery, Sloan recovered amazingly well and ended up being shipped to Colorado Springs. Then, suddenly, so many doors opened for him to attend Charis Bible College that it was like a big neon sign saying, “GO!” So, he went, but often he would show up angry—angry because some lady in a coffee shop complained there was too much foam in her latté, then not enough foam, and then she had the audacity to storm out in a fit; or because some driver on the highway would go into a rage after being cut off in traffic. Sloan would think, Well, did you have to pick up a dead child today?
In Iraq, even when they were being attacked every day, there was such love among the men. Somebody would get sick, and a guy who’d been on a fourteen-hour patrol would take another fourteen-hour shift— out in sector, getting shot at, possibly killed—just so his buddy could rest. Now, back from war, Sloan couldn’t stand it when people fussed over petty things. He didn’t want any strife. He didn’t want to miss the beauty of a single sunset. People frustrated him so much that he didn’t think he could stop being angry. He’d arrive at school spitting nails and leave praising His Father in heaven, marveling at the wisdom and peace that the knowledge of God created in him, how it changed him!
Some people don’t know what it’s like to have somebody die for them, but Sloan does because Shin Kim died taking a grenade for him. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13)—like Jesus, the One who wrote the Book of love.
Although Sloan is no longer wearing the uniform of the United States Army, he is still spending his life watching out for others by serving at Andrew Wommack Ministries in the Security Department.
Reprinted from the article No Greater Love found in the Spring / Summer 2011 edition of Andrew's Gospel Truth Magazine.