Seventeen years ago, then 23-year-old Diana Oestreich, a combat medic in the United States Army National Guard, was deployed to Iraq to engage in the Global War on Terror. On her first morning there, she learned of an enemy technique used to ambush American military convoys—an Iraqi child would be pushed in front of a convoy to force the first truck to stop, causing the entire convoy to halt, and making the last trucks vulnerable to enemy attack. If they encountered that situation, Oestreich and fellow soldiers were commanded to run over the child in order to keep the convoy safe.
Raised in a military family and in the patriotic culture of her Baptist faith, Oestreich had been taught that soldiers faced hard choices, but everything she believed about being a soldier and a Christian assured her that she could and should obey her commander’s directive. However, that night Oestreich was torn with indecision: “How could I choose between the lives of my fellow soldiers and an Iraqi child? Whose life would I protect, and whose would I take?” As she pleaded for God’s help, Oestreich heard in her heart, “But I love them. I love them, too, Diana.” Still, unrelenting questions pummeled Oestreich: “How could I be a citizen of heaven first while being a loyal citizen of my country? Which kingdom was I going to build up?” Unable to push away the voice of God’s steady call, Oestreich realized that God loved her enemies as much as he loved her, and God was calling her to follow his example. Oestreich knew that if she answered God’s call to give away her life instead of taking a life, it would cost her much.
Oestreich’s engaging, painful, and hopeful memoir is the story of what it cost her to wage peace instead of waging war, both on her tour of duty and when she returned to the United States. During these times of great political and religious polarization and divisiveness, Waging Peace has much to offer Christian readers, whether they agree with Oestreich or not. (Broadleaf Books)