These French Never Surrender

These French Never Surrender July 2, 2011

I came to know David French through the extraordinary circle of friends who produce and  When I first asked David — a high-powered, Harvard-trained litigator, who was then with the Alliance Defense Fund — whether he might be interested in writing a column for the Evangelical Portal, I fully expected he’d say he was too busy.  To my astonishment, he said yes, and he wrote columns that attracted a great deal of traffic and attention.

I’ve also come to know his sharp, funny, and lovely wife Nancy, and now Nancy and the entire SixSeeds team will be projecting their top-notch content into a forthcoming Faith and Family portal at Patheos.  Nancy co-authored Bristol Palin’s memoir, Not Afraid of Life.  Any memoir from a Palin was bound to be controversial, but no one has disputed it’s a well written and well crafted book.  Nancy and David also co-wrote a memoir of their own, Home and Away, telling the story of David’s deployment as an Army reservist and the strains it placed on their lives, their souls and even their marriage while they were separated from one another by thousands of miles and a raging and controversial war.

David believed in the importance of the Iraq war, and was convicted that if other husbands and fathers were sacrificing for this cause he believed in, then so should he.  Kathryn Lopez interviewed the Frenches at National Review Online, and asked them “Could you have done this without your faith?”

NANCY: When David and I were having the “I want to join the Army” conversation when we lived in Philadelphia, he quoted Stonewall Jackson. He said something like this, “My religious belief teaches me to feel as safe in battle as in bed. God has fixed the time for my death. I do not concern myself about that, but to be always ready, no matter when it may overtake me. That is the way all men should live, and then all would be equally brave.” Of course, Stonewall died while recovering from wounds received in battle. “Duty is ours, consequences are God’s,” he is also known to have said. In other words, we threw ourselves on the mercy and sovereignty of God, and put one foot in front of the other until he came home.

DAVID: It’s easy to quote Calvinist generals from the safety of your own home. It’s another thing entirely to trust God when you’re bumping down a dirt road in a Humvee or saluting at the third memorial in a month for a fallen trooper. My deployment taught me that I am utterly dependent on God for my next breath of life. But in many ways, that thought could be more terrifying than comforting. Men who were better than me in every way were falling to IEDs and ambushes. There is no formula for survival, and God’s ways are mysterious. But we’re not promised understanding, safety, or comfort.

As we approach July 4th and celebrate the freedoms we enjoy as a nation, it’s good to remember those who serve overseas and what we can do not only to support the soldiers but to support the families they leave behind.  Lopez asks Nancy what Americans stateside can do:

LOPEZ: Nancy, when you heard from David that there are men deployed who don’t get mail and care packages, you did something about it. What can everyone reading this do to fix that problem?

NANCY: I created a little program (called Operation Send-a-Box) that sent a care package to everyone in David’s unit. We were blessed to get $250,000 worth of cool supplies sent — thanks in part to NRO readers! — to demonstrate support for the soldiers risking their lives for our freedom. Although most people won’t have the resources to replicate such an ambitious effort, everyone can show support to service members by baking food (that’s always the southern solution!), fixing household items, and being physically present in military families’ lives. In my case, memorably, I had to ask the deacon of my church to come and pull my kid’s tooth after a couple of hours of angst over a possibly premature extraction. Although I doubt that’s what he had in mind when he told me he was willing to help while David was gone, he served our family in a way that will forever be remembered. Thanks to all the people at Zion Presbyterian Church!

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