Missing Camp Lejeune Marine known of his 'deep faith'
April 3 2003 by Michael Foust , Baptist Press

Missing Camp Lejeune Marine known for his 'deep faith' | Friday, April 4, 2003

Friday, April 4, 2003

Missing Camp Lejeune Marine known for his 'deep faith'

By Michael Foust Baptist Press

BOILING SPRINGS, S.C. - A Marine known for his deep Christian faith and involvement in his Southern Baptist church is among a group of American soldiers whose whereabouts are unknown.

Nolen Ryan Hutchings - known as "Ryan" to friends - is a member of Northbrook Baptist Church in Boiling Springs, S.C. The private was among seven Marines who were involved in operations on the outskirts of Nasiriyah in Iraq March 23; three of those soldiers have since been confirmed dead.

Hutchings, 20, was initially listed as "Duty Status Whereabouts Unknown." He was later reported as missing. His Marine unit is based in Camp Lejeune.

"He had a deep faith in the Lord," Northbrook Baptist pastor Wayne Dickard told Baptist Press. "If he is alive - and we hope and pray that he is - then our prayer is that he will be returned to his family.

"We're trying to encourage the family and pray for them. I can't imagine what they're facing."

Dickard's predecessor at Northbrook, Ralph Brown, has known Hutchings for about six years. Brown was pastor at the church when Hutchings accepted Christ as a teenager and became involved in the youth group.

"He loved the Lord Jesus Christ," said Brown, who now pastors neighboring Jonesville Baptist Church, which is some 30 miles from Boiling Springs. "He loved to worship. He was a Bible-carrying/believing young man. He loved to talk about his Lord."

Even after Brown left Northbrook, Hutchings stayed in contact with him. Brown told Baptist Press that during the Christmas holidays last year, Hutchings dropped by his house to say hello.

"He and my wife and myself knelt in our den," Brown said. "We all held hands. He told me he was going to be shipped out. He told me, 'I can't tell you where I'm going. It's classified.'"

"We all held hands and prayed for his safety - for the Lord to watch over him and take care of him."

Hutchings was a member of the Northbrook Baptist youth group when it took mission trips to various states, holding Vacation Bible Schools and backyard Bible clubs. He had a Christ-like demeanor, Brown said.

"He was a very personable young man," Brown said. "He had a giving spirit. He cared about other people."

Hutchings was "a very active member of this church," Dickard said.

Both churches spent time in prayer for Hutchings at church services March 30.

Wherever Hutchings is, he is "trusting in the Lord," Brown said. "I believe that. I really do."

"Duty Status Whereabouts Unknown" is different from "Missing In Action," a Marine Corps spokesman told The Greenville (S.C.) News newspaper. For example, a soldier could end up in the wrong unit during the confusion of battle.

"If more time passes and they can't find them, then they will be considered (missing in action)," Gunnery Sgt. Michael Giannetti told the newspaper.

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4/3/2003 11:00:00 PM by Michael Foust , Baptist Press | with 0 comments
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