President Dwight D. Eisenhower—affectionately known as “Ike”—lived through many seasons of grief and difficult circumstances before he became America’s 34th President and led America’s military to victory in World War II. But it is because of, and not despite, these difficult times that Ike was prepared to be the leader our great nation needed.
During my years at the helm of Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), we, like Ike, had our difficult times.
The attacks on religious freedom, sanctity of life, and marriage and family have seemed relentless at times. Yet I am reminded of the lengthy discussions I had with ADF ministry friends on our tours of Normandy. We saw the beaches where Ike’s carefully crafted D-Day invasion changed the tide of World War II and so many gave their lives for the cause of freedom. In those conversations, we talked about how God is with us even in the darkest moments individually and corporately. Our perseverance, sustained by the grace of God, leads us from seemingly hopeless circumstances to victory.
As I reflect back on my 25+ years at ADF, a big part of my effort was directed at formation—at forming a team of staff and ministry friends who understood what the battle was all about and who were ceaselessly preparing for “the next God-given opportunity.” We stood together, supported each other, and with God’s grace (John 15:5) persevered in the battles we faced. And all along, we never failed to remember that this was not just a series of quick skirmishes—rather, this was the battle of a lifetime, a battle for the freedom of generations to come.
Ike’s life is a personification of this concept. His perseverance ushered him into a role of God-given influence that he never could have anticipated. Without his leadership, there may have never been a D-Day. There would likely be no Jewish community in Europe today; the political structure of our world would be very different; indeed, World War II may have had a very different ending . . . or no ending at all.
This perseverance was not easy. Ike had to build and maintain an alliance—a nigh impossible task as he dealt with individuals who had very strong opinions and dueling egos. But Ike never gave in. He stood strong, spoke truth, and served faithfully. No matter the adversity, Ike made decisions that served the best interest of his country, instead of his own. His hard work, attention to detail, and servant leadership won the attention and admiration of those in authority.
For ADF too, we’ve seen the power of faithfulness in small things.
While we never set out to impress others, God has provided us great favor with those who have the resources and influence to launch us into battles where the nation’s heart of freedom rests on the line.
But Ike did even more than build alliances and remain steadfast in the small things—he also knew the power of committing his all to whatever he set his hand to do. He knew the importance of being all in, of being committed to winning. It’s what led him to ambitious decisions like the D-Day invasion. Ike was never one to allow indecision to sap the strength and life of his army. And most importantly, Ike knew that victory was not possible unless he remained on his knees in prayer and trusted His Creator in all things.
Twenty-five years ago, the late Dr. Bill Bright charged ADF to “keep the doors open for the Gospel,” just as Ike, through his leadership, kept the doors open for freedom. And it is that freedom that Ike dedicated his life to preserve that ADF defends every day, both in the legal courtroom and the courtroom of public opinion. In all things, the ADF team strives to “be like Ike” – faithful servants who persevere no matter the circumstances.
As you can probably tell, President “Ike” is one of my heroes. He has inspired me, both as a man and in my legal career. This is why my friend and colleague Craig Osten and I endeavored to delve into the spiritual life of this president and uncover the true man, underneath the general’s cap. In this book, you will learn how God used every hardship and trial in his life to shape him into the man that Time Magazine deemed “The man who beat Hitler.”
There are myriads of books and articles that focus on President Eisenhower’s life, his presidency, his famous D-Day invasion, but there is no book on record dedicated to delving into his faith.