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What Prayer Can Do: Our Viewfinder

Would an Air Force pilot’s prayer for clearing clouds during a vital reconnaissance mission be answered?

A parting of the clouds

In 2011, I was in the Air Force, serving my fifth deployment in Afghanistan. I was the navigator on a crew that was flying reconnaissance missions, using radar and cameras to record the locations of roadside bombs and improvised explosive devices. We flew above the main transportation routes that our supply trucks used. After we’d pinpointed the locations of bombs, they could be detonated safely.

One week that fall, a cyclone (what we’d call a hurricane back home) created a thick cloud cover over the whole country. The conditions created a huge problem for us. Although our radar could penetrate the clouds, our cameras could not. Without that footage, how helpful could we be to troops on the ground?

The copilot and I prayed together before our flight took off.

“God, will you part the clouds for us?” I asked. “The way you did the Red Sea in the Bible?”

Our C-130 flew toward the area we were supposed to record. Visibility hovered near zero because of all the clouds. Maybe it will get better closer to the target, I thought. But 10 seconds away, I could still barely see the ground below us, much less any explosive devices hidden in culverts or buried in the dirt.

Soon the plane was directly above our target area. We would have to make do with whatever the camera could somehow detect through the cloud cover. That hardly seemed enough when there were lives at stake.

We turned on the camera. Right before our eyes, the clouds began to part, like curtains being pulled back to reveal the exact spot we needed to see.

“God’s doing it,” the copilot murmured.

That’s what it felt like. Over and over on that recon flight, the clouds would part at just the right moment for us to capture the images we needed.

Our crew located more bombs that day than we ever had before in a single mission. The analysts on the ground couldn’t believe the footage we’d recorded.

The copilot and I made sure to tell them who was really responsible.

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