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Shuttle commander shared love for Christ in ’96 documentary

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–It was 1996, and Rick Husband was a new graduate of NASA’s astronaut training program — excited about his future role in the space shuttle program. But he also was excited about his relationship with God, leading a Bible study in his home for fellow astronauts.

It was in this role that Husband was featured in a Southern Baptist television documentary, “Circle of the Earth.” Click here for video segment with Husband: http://video.namb.net/bp/shuttle_interview.asx.

The documentary — which profiled a number of Christian astronauts — was provided to ABC network affiliates across the country by the former SBC Radio and Television Commission, now part of the North American Mission Board.

In the interviews, Husband revealed much about his love for the space program and his even-more-important relationship with Christ.

“Apart from God, I’m really nothing,” he said in the interview. “And only through God can I really do anything worthwhile. … I hope that through the course of my life I will be able to do the things that God wants me to do because I love God. He is the most important thing to me.”

The U.S. Air Force colonel was commander of the Columbia space shuttle on a 16-day mission that ended tragically Feb. 1 as it broke up over Texas upon reentry into the earth’s atmosphere.

Bernie Hargis, producer and director of the documentary, said he and a film crew were able to spend one or two days with Husband and his family. “They were just gracious, completely willing to share their testimony about Christ with a national television audience. … They were just lovely Christian people.”

Husband said he had wanted to be an astronaut as long as he could remember. “I remember when I was a real little kid watching on the TV and seeing those first shots,” he said.

He was raised in a United Methodist church, and it was during college that he made a personal profession of faith in Christ.

“It’s through Jesus that I can have a relationship with God, and through that sacrifice that Jesus made,” he said. “Jesus gave his very own life for all of us that we could come into a relationship with God and be with him in heaven after we die our physical death.”

The Bible study started several months into his training program, after he and several other astronaut candidates participated in a Promise Keepers rally in Houston in 1995. They were studying through the book, “Seven Promises of a Promise Keeper.” He had earlier led another Bible study while stationed in England.

“It’s a real good opportunity to get to know these guys,” he said. “It’s also a good opportunity to get to use each other as sounding boards. … We try and just help each other, encourage each other, build each other up.”

Husband also addressed the inherent risk of his profession, but as with other astronauts he accepted it as a calculated risk.

“With the space shuttle, they go through a very, very detailed analysis of different hazards they expect to see, and they do a good job of trying to minimize those risks,” he said. “But once you’ve gotten to that point and then you get to go and do the flying, it’s very exciting. … It’s a lot of fun. It really is.

“You have to kind of just condition yourself not to, not to worry about stuff,” he added later in the interview. “And the one thing that I normally try to do when I fly, and I know I will be when I go up on that first space shuttle mission, is saying a prayer. I know I’ll be praying to God that everything goes okay, and that I will do everything correctly and perform to the best of my ability.”

Husband’s favorite Bible verse was Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”

“That has been a verse that has really come to mean a lot to me over the last several years,” he said, noting that it was especially helpful as he went through the selection process with NASA. He also found comfort in the verse, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart,” from Psalm 37.4.

“I came to realize that the desires of my heart were that Evelyn and I stay together in a strong marriage and that my children grow to come to know Jesus,” he said. “And so God was just telling me, ‘Trust me. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and don’t lean on your own understanding, ’cause you can’t figure it out.’ And I have found that to be a good guiding verse for me in just about everything I do.”

“Circle of The Earth” is available for order on VHS videotape by calling NAMB’s broadcast affiliate FamilyNet at 1-877-FAMNET7. Based in Fort Worth, Texas, FamilyNet is a 24-hour television network that since 1997 has been a subsidiary of the North American Mission Board.

    About the Author

  • James Dotson