Former British Army leader General Sir Richard Dannatt is an outspoken Christian – openly discussing his faith and encouraging soldiers to prepare their souls for the afterlife.
However, he said that it was only after God saved his life four times that he fully committed his life to Him.
Dannatt’s first near-death experience was in 1973, when he was a soldier serving in Belfast. The team came under heavy fire, and one of the men was killed. Dannatt was unharmed.
The second experience was in 1975 in South Armagh, when an explosion killed Major Peter Willis. Dannatt had been walking beside Willis just before the explosion, but fell behind while looking at an aerial photograph.
Months later, he fell asleep at the wheel of a car, but managed to drive off the road and into a field, instead of down a nearby embankment.
Despite these close calls, Dannatt said he still hadn’t learned the lesson.
“God had shown me his love and protection and challenged me to make a complete commitment to him, but each time I failed to make the response that he wanted,” he told UK’s Good News.
“Finally, I had to be stopped so that the lesson could be learned… God had no choice but to take a stick and beat me over the head.”
At the age of 26, the soldier had a stroke.
“My right side was paralysed and I couldn’t talk sense,” he recalled. “When a brother officer finally found me, I was rushed with blue lights flashing to the neurology department of a German hospital.”
He remained in the hospital for four weeks. During that time, God spoke to him.
“Although I had been a follower of Christ for several years, I knew that I had only ever given part of my life to him,” he admitted.
“I’d kept a part for myself. As I lay in bed recovering, I began to reflect that God wanted all of my life, not just part, and that he had challenged me about this in the recent past.”
The now 63-year-old said he was forever changed.
“I found on that date a far better way of life. To commit myself wholeheartedly to God was to enjoy that peace and purpose in life that only full commitment to Jesus Christ can bring. It was the beginning of a new life in Christ.”