Jackson was five months into his second tour of duty in Kandahar when he and six of his seven crew members were killed when an improvised explosive device (IED) struck their vehicle. He served as the commander of a Stryker, an eight-wheeled armored mash-up of a tank and a Humvee. His battalion on his first tour, based out of Fort Drum, N.Y., suffered heavy casualties. His was to be the first Stryker brigade deployed to Afghanistan, and his wife Kristen said he knew before he left that his unit likely would suffer similar losses.
But even though Jackson left behind a baby boy, Enoch, who is now 2, and a daughter, Eden, born six weeks after his death, Kristen said she knows he died doing his duty for his country and, more importantly, for his Lord.
"He spoke of his 'ministry in the military,'" she said. "He was constantly having debates with the guys and they were always starting arguments on God, Christianity or evolution and stuff like that."
Since he was an infantryman and served on the front lines, he was surrounded mostly by men with anti-Christian attitudes.
"It's pretty rare to find godly men in the military; they're few and far between," Kristen said. "He was kind of a lone ranger when it came to being a Christian. He had no problem telling people what he believed."
Jackson was the youngest of three brothers. His father was killed when he was only 18 months old and, in Kristen's words, "he wasn't a good kid."
"I asked him one time, 'Why were you so bad?'" she recounted. "He was just angry. He got better -- legally at least -- as he got a little older."
But it wasn't until Jackson accepted Christ just before his 22nd birthday that he made up for not having an earthly father by accepting his heavenly Father. He joined First Baptist Church in Lathrop, Mo., where he was discipled by the church's music minister, Donnie Quinn.
Though Kristen accepted Christ as her Savior at the age of 5, she "got totally off track" in high school. When they connected through their church in the small community north of Kansas City, they began their discipleship journey together. Issac and Kristen began dating in March 2004 and he enlisted in the Army the following May. They were engaged five months later and married Dec. 18, 2004.
"We came back to Jesus at the same time," Kristen said. "We provided good accountability for each other. Even when he was stationed somewhere, we were good for each other in that."
Even now, a year after his death, Issac's faith is making a difference.
"I've had a couple of soldiers find me on Facebook and tell me about the talks they had with Issac about God and Jesus," Kristen said. "They said that talking with him changed their opinions of God and Christians."
Brian Koonce is a staff writer for The Pathway (www.mbcpathway.com), newsjournal of the Missouri Baptist Convention.
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