BY THERESA PARKER
from “THE GOOD NEWS JOURNAL” OF COLUMBIA, MO
Despite the conflict in Serbia and Kosovo, “God is still in control,” says Jim Coy, a physician, military colonel and author of the new book, “A Gathering of Eagles”. Coy, 52, is a colonel in the Army Reserve , associate professor at the University of Missouri and chief of diagnostic radiology at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Columbia. He is also an associate professor at the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences in Bethesda, MD., in the Departments of Military and Emergency Medicine and Radiology.
“People look at the problems in Balkans and the area of the former Soviet Union and have predicted some very dire outcomes,” Coy said. “When you look at what is happening it is very confusing. Militarily it is difficult to deal with the diverse groups of people and their different ethnic and religious backgrounds. On any given day, these Balkan states that were once part of larger Communist block countries, may form allegiances with other Balkan states and then break that allegiance depending on what is happening at the moment.”
He added that Serbia has a history of government unrest. A country with a strong Eastern Orthodox Church faith, they claim to be a Christian nation. However, they apparently have committed atrocities in Bosnia and Albania. The United States and the United Nations are involved in stopping those atrocities.
Coy continued, “I¹m very apprehensive about this. It could stop with just this. But we have never had a conflict concluded only with bombing. If we send our ground troops into the country, it could turn into another Viet Nam. The more frightening possibility is that some of the nations, such as the Ukraine have missiles, both conventional and nuclear warheads, left over from the break-up of the Soviet Union. They have an alliance with the Serbians. But they do not have any agreements with other world nations not to use their nuclear weapons.”
Coy explained that when the U.S. and the Soviet Union had control of the nuclear weapons there was an understanding that the use of these nuclear weapons would be devastating to the entire world. “Now small nations have control of some of these weapons and along with economic difficulties occurring there and changing alliances being made with neighboring countries, we have to wonder if this could possibility lead to a war that would be devastating? Could it lead to World War III?”
Even though the possibilities seem disastrous, Coy is quick to say that God has a plan. “We have to continue to seek God¹s plan for us as individuals and not panic,” he said. “When we have a faith we also know that Christ will return. Everyday that passes we come closer to the time that Christ will return again and claim His church. I do not know that the events happening now are the beginning of an end-time war. We do know near the end of time, Œthere will be wars and rumors of wars¹. It is all part of a process that is occurring biblically and scripturally leading up to the return of Christ.”
The answer, Coy says, is to continue to have faith. “God did not say that good things were going to happen all the time. Nor did He say that just because we are believers bad things would not happen. There will be profoundly difficult times. I do not have the answer for the nonbelievers as to what they can do to prepare except that people who have a faith know what eternity holds. Their faith gives them a comfort that people who do not have faith might not have in this frightening and complicated time.”
Coy added that good times and bad times come for everyone whether they have faith or not. What is important is how a person reacts to those difficulties. “For those who believe and have a faith, there is a wonderful eternity where all the pain and difficult times will cease,” he said.
Coy should know about battles, both militarily and personally. The list of badges and medals awarded during his military service seem endless. He has received the Combat Medical Badge, Expert Field Medical Badge, Flight Surgeon Badge, Air Assault Badge, Parachute Badge and Israeli Parachute Badge.
Also, he has been awarded the Legion of Merit, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, seven Army Commendation Medals, three Army Achievement Medals, the Navy Achievement Medal, the Army Reserve Achievement Medal and the Order of Military Medical Merit, which is the highest award of the Army Medical Regiment. And if that isn¹t enough, he has been awarded the Army Medical Department “A” Proficiency Designation, which is the very highest honor of the Army Medical Department for achievement in military science.
In 1978, after receiving his doctor of osteopathy degree and completing his internship, Jim contracted throat and tongue cancer and dealt with radiation and surgeries for almost 10 years. He said the Squamous Cell Cancer was probably a result of smoking. “Its very easy to stop smoking when you¹re dealing with the results of that magnitude,” he said.
When he met his wife, Vicki, he felt he had beaten the cancer. They had both been married before and so they made the decision to begin their marriage right and determined to attend church every Sunday and serve God together. They were married July 4, 1982. “My life started to turn around and I thought everything was going to be great,” he said.
Then in August of that year, he noticed he had a sore in his throat. It was biopsied in December of 1982. On Vicki¹s birthday, Dec. 10, it came back that it was cancer. “We had to restart the entire process over again,” he said. “I had another episode in 1985 and a final time in 1989. I am considered cured now.”
Often when Jim speaks to youth groups he breaks the ice by saying, “I¹ve had five biopsies, four major surgeries and six weeks of radiation therapy to make me this ugly. What¹s your excuse?” During the surgeries portions of Jim¹s lower throat and jawbone had to be removed leaving a lasting reminder of the toll that cancer can take.
Jim recently served as National Surgeon for the Reserve Officers Association. He also held that position in 1994-95. He was President of the Special Forces Medical Association, as well.
“Because of these positions and my affiliations with special forces and special operations units, uniformed services medical school and the Salute To Veterans Committee, I have met many different veterans and servicemen. I have also met religious leaders due to my involvement in Promise Keepers.” He is active in men¹s ministries at Christian Chapel, serving as men¹s ministry director. He is very active in Prime Time, which is a city-wide businessmen¹s prayer and fellowship group; Prime Time Christian Military Fellowship and Promise Keepers.
His book is a compilation of thoughts from 227 military, political and religious leaders and Ex-POWs and medal of honor recipients. He asked them the questions: “What is your creed? What is your code of conduct for life? How do you move from success to significance.”
The book, recently published by Evergreen Press, includes responses from such notables as General Norman Schwarzkopf, General Colin Powell, Senator John Ashcroft, Senator Christopher Bond, former President George Bush, Senator John Glenn, General Alexander Haig, Psychologist and Author James Dobson, Coach Bill McCartney, Author Josh McDowell, Evangelist Oral Roberts, Charles Colson, Evangelist Billy Graham and many others.
Profits from the sale of the book will go to fund scholarships for Christian school and Bible school. It will also help children of those in full-time ministry attend Christian school.
The introduction sums up his philosophy of life: “As a physician, teacher and consultant in military medicine, I am often asked for advice by young leaders. I tell young men and women when faced with a decision between right and wrong, always make the right decision. With experience, and with God¹s direction, the ‘grey area decisions’ become fewer, and the right decisions will be made with greater frequency. As I look back at my life, I realize that too often I made the wrong choices between right and wrong. As humans, we all fail. With the help of God and willingness to make the right decisions, we can move from success to significance.”