Former SEAL to discuss faith mission in Livingston County

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Former Navy SEAL Chad Williams fires an anti-tank rocket during a training session. Williams will talk about his SEAL experiences and becoming a devout Christian at a free event Saturday at Cornerstone Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Brighton Township. Williams also wrote a book, “SEAL of God.” / SUBMITTED PHOTO

In March 2007, Chad Williams should have felt like he was on top of the world.
He had survived Navy SEAL training and become part of one of the most elite military units in the world. SEAL stands for sea, air and land. Of the 173 people in his class, only 13 graduated.
"I thought it was going to be like a rock star," he said.

Instead, he went from the highest high to the lowest low, and his life tumbled out of control. During a month break after graduation, the then 21-year-old California native began drinking, partying, blacking out and getting into fights. He woke up one morning with a cut that required 26 stitches on his knuckles and had no idea what happened. His parents drove him to the hospital.

One day, he agreed to go to church, something he hadn't done on a regular basis for years.

Williams said he only agreed to go to church to make his parents happy, but he had other plans. He had hidden a keg of beer in his parents' garage.

"As soon as the church thing was over, I was going to take the keg out and party that night," he said.
Instead, he heard a mesmerizing evangelist speak, and he said he began understanding the Bible's stories and the sacrifice Jesus made.

"He really connected with me," he said.

After serving several years in the SEALs, including a stint in Iraq, he left the Navy and now teaches high school students at a church outside Los Angeles. He also wrote a book, "SEAL of God."

Williams, 28, will share his SEAL experiences and reconnecting with his Christian faith at a free event Saturday at Cornerstone Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Brighton Township. It's part of the annual men's ministry chili luncheon. Any male is welcome to attend.

Bob Behrke, who serves on the men's ministry committee, said the church always picks someone for the program who has a background similar to the thoughts of members at the church.
Behrke said Williams' church "has very similar beliefs as we do."

"We're really looking to draw other men in Livingston County to come visit us," he said.

Williams said he was motivated to complete his training after his mentor, Scott Helvenston, who was a SEAL, was killed in an ambush in Fallujah, Iraq. It's an infamous incident because video showed Iraqis dragging the bodies of Helvenston and three others through the streets and then hanging them from a bridge.

Williams said he had spoken to Helvenston just days before he left for Iraq, and his mentor had hoped to make a difference.

"He was like family to me," he said.

Williams said figuring out who is a friend or foe in Iraq can be difficult. He said one of his last operations was going after an Iraqi policeman who at night was making suicide vests and improvised explosive devices. It also turned out the guy was setting them up for an ambush.

How does he reconcile being part of an elite military unit that kills people with his Christian faith?
Williams said there's a common misunderstanding of the Ten Commandments, specifically with the "thou shall not kill" command. In Hebrew, he said, the word used actually means murder.
He said murder is taking someone's life maliciously.

"There's a different between murder and taking a life," he said.

As a SEAL, he said, the unit always went in and tried to take somebody alive, even if that person was shooting at us.

Williams admitted it was a "very bizarre dynamic."

"I was carrying the very guy that was trying to kill me and my friends into a hospital," he said.

 
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