Gunfire echoed across the African town of Bujumbura, Burundi as doors quickly slammed shut, cease-fire agreement broken and lives halted as the bullets pierced the air. Seven years after the genocide in Rwanda, the African town was ravaged in turmoil yet again, according to Marine James Iversen.
“Everyone who was working for the Department of State had to be (at) home — the embassy was closed,” Iversen said. “The only people working were the Marines.”
A new cease-fire agreement was drawn in Burundi, no casualties resulted and for Iversen, it was just another day at work.
Before coming to Liberty, Iversen spent three years overseas guarding embassies in Burundi, New Zealand and Kazakhstan, staying one year in each location.
“Other countries work very hard to get our secrets, so the Marines are just there to control,” Iversen said.
Before guarding embassies, Iversen repaired the military radios in Iraq as a ground communications organizational repairman.
“I’m the kind of person who doesn’t worry about tomorrow or where God is directing me,” Iversen said. “He’s been so transparent, as far as guidance, that I don’t really think about it too much.”
According to Iversen, his decision to join the military was under divine influence. Before his military career at age 20, he faced college with no direction or plan for his life. One day, a lance corporal on recruiter’s assistance approached Iversen, asking him if he ever considered joining the military.
“Two weeks beforehand, my parents were praying for me,” Iversen said. “My parents agreed that it would be good (for me) to join the military, but they didn’t say anything at all.”
After this encounter, Iversen had signed a contract with the Marines, his commitment made. Iversen left for bootcamp May 15, 2005 at Parris Island, S.C.
“It was clearly God’s will that I joined the Marine Corps,” Iversen said.
Looking back, Iversen never regretted his quick decision to join the military. With his overseas travel came many opportunities to share God’s love with hurting people.
“When I was in Burundi, one of my drivers was a pastor,” Iversen said. “We had four drivers — three were Muslim, and one was a Christian. Right before I left, I was able to buy 300 Bibles, and I had them shipped to the country.”
Since 2008, Iversen has been in contact with the preacher, buying him clothes and goats as well as helping him fund the new medical center.
“When I look back at that and the help I was able to give him because of being able to work with the Department of State overseas, I was just like, ‘This is what I want to do as a career,’” Iversen said.
Iversen was enlisted in active duty with the Marines for close to six years before he was discharged after his contract ended.
According to Iversen, he knew he wanted to go back to school to pursue a job that would put him overseas again. Now a senior at Liberty, Iversen hopes to one day work with the Department of State as a diplomatic security service special agent.
Trusting God to lead him every day, whether as a Marine or as a Liberty student, Iversen looks forward to the future and each opportunity ahead. According to Iversen, the experiences he gained while in the military easily translate to life at Liberty, giving him the confidence to succeed.