Armored Up For God In A Libyan Prison

In the sixth grade he read the book “Men With Green Faces”, a narrative about the newest branch of the U.S. Navy. It was the story of the newly formed Navy SEALS. From that moment Richard Peters knew what he wanted to do. In 1967 he joined the Navy and a year later he was training to be one of those men with green faces. Richard would serve his country as a SEAL for over twenty years. In 1978 Richard was selected to be one of the original members of a group of warriors that would become SEAL Team 6, the “best of the best”. Even being a member of SEAL Team 6 and all the prestige that came with it couldnot complete his life. It would take a total destruction of his personal life to bring this warrior to his knees.
In 1980 Richard’s father confronted his son with fact that he needed the Lord in his life. Richard’s response to his father was, “dad, when I see a dead man rise from the grave or hear a voice come from a cloud, then I will believe in your God”. Not long after this encounter Richard’s personal life would spiral into a crisis he could not control. Everything that Richard thought mattered dissolved in front of him. In the middle of this he called out to God that if He was real, if He could lift the pain of this tragedy from him, he would believe. In an instant the physical and emotional pain was gone. A sense of healing and wholeness came over him and in that moment Richard knew that Jesus was in his life.Rich focused the same determination that had made him a SEAL into his new found salvation. The night of his re-birth Richard went out looking for a Bible. He was on fire and nothing was going to quench his thirst to learn more about his Savior. At the same time he was struggling in his heart with being a SEAL. He had been trained as a warrior, and he didn’t know if he could still be effective. Richard He told his commanding officer that he had become a Christian and didn’t know if he could take a life, even in battle. His commander left the decision up to Richard. He would pray over this and events would lead him to know that the Lord had His hands on his life. The Lord had Richard right where He wanted Him. For the next ten years Richard would be a Christian first and a Navy SEAL second.
After retiring from the Navy, Richard formed a construction company and personal security company that specialized in projects in “high risk” environments. From 1994 to 2009 the companies worked in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Lord covered Richard many times and emboldened his heart to share the Good News even in these Muslim countries. In 2011 the Lord would lead him into a Muslim country that would transform not only Richard’s life, but the lives of so many others. Richard would go to Libya.
In 2010 the government of Libya asked the construction company to bid on a number of construction contracts, most notably refurbishing the major airports in the country. After reviewing the proposals, the Kaddafi Regime extended an invitation for the construction company to come to Tripoli. In early 2011 Richard went to Libya to set up an office for the company. Within days of arriving in Libya, Richard was ready for business and the Libyan government was happy with the proposals. One afternoon he called his office to give a report and exclaimed that it was great “to work in a country that was not at war”! Soon that would all change.
In February 2011 revolution began in Egypt and Tunisia. The media labeled it “The Arab Spring”. In Libya the locals working for Rich reassured him that Mohammar Kaddafi was too powerful to be overthrown. For the next two weeks while his home office gathered intelligence, Richard tried to determine the situation on “the ground”. Another two weeks later the country was engulfed in civil war and Richard’s options to get out were fading. Rich soon discovered that the Kaddafi government was looking for him. Now he had to get out of the country. On the evening of March 12th, with a hired driver he made a run for Benghazi in eastern Libya. But before getting past the city limits of Tripoli, the driver ran out of courage then ran out on Richard. With dozens of roadblocks between Tripoli and Benghazi, he was on his own. He would make it through the first five without a problem, but at the sixth one his luck would run out.
At roadblock six, word had reached the police of an American driving alone. The secret police stopped and searched Richard. They told him he didn’t have the proper paperwork for the vehicle and they would escort him back to Tripoli. The vehicle was registered to Kaddafi’s cousin! The police assured Richard there was no problem, but due to the war the Kaddafi family was in a secure location and they would have to blindfold him while they drove to the cousin’s compound. When they took the blindfold off, he was in a prison courtyard with other prisoners. He was thrown into a filthy cell for two weeks and all he could think of was not seeing his wife and family and not fulfilling God’s plan for his life. It was time for a plan or two or three for escape. One day he was tied, blindfolded, and loaded into a police van with five other inmates. They were driven around Tripoli for three hours to another facility. As they were offloaded Richard could see beneath his blindfold other prisoners kneeling, facing a wall. Was it time to die? No. He was counted off with five otherinmates and marched to a cell. After ten days the other prisoners were removed and Rich was alone. He had developed four different plans to escape and was asking, pleading God to choose one. He was working out in secret, keeping to the shadows of his cell. He was spending hours praying, talking with the Lord. He found he was hungry for God’s word. His Bible and reading glasses had been confiscated when he was arrested. He just wanted to read his Bible and he would ask the Lord daily for its return. Then after thirty days at the second prison, the door opened and a Libyan guard handed Richard a plastic bag with his Bible and glasses. The 91st Psalm has always been Richard’s battle Psalm, but while reading Psalm 27:14, God opened his eyes to why he was sitting in that cell. The Enemy had wanted him dead! Now he would wait on God’s plan for freedom. Just a few days later Richard heard the cell doors on either side of him open and close. Minutes later a voice came through the electric outlet on the wall. His name was Manuel Bravo and he was frightened. He was a cameraman who was arrested with two American journalists who he thought were in the cell on the other side. Richard went to the other wall and sure enough journalists Claire Gillis and James Foley were in that cell, also frightened. That night Rich would share the plan of salvation with Manuel and James, and lead them to the Lord. God’s plan was now working in Richard’s life. Two weeks later all three journalists were released and they were able to make contact with Rich’s wife. For the first time in months, family and friends knew he was alive.
For the next three months Richard’s life would be one of extremes. He would face six interrogations. Physical torture was followed by attempts to break him psychologically. The lack of food and poor sanitation led to numerous illnesses and although promised medical attention, none ever came. He lost over one hundred pounds and was down to sour milk and rotten dates to eat. But he was at peace for he knew God’s plan was at work. The first week of August the war came to Tripoli and by the 19th the Rebel Militia started fighting in the streets. On the 21st Rich heard a commotion in the prison yard. When he peeked out the tiny window in his cell, he could see that the guards had abandoned their posts. The only thing between him and freedom was the thick iron door that was bolted from the outside. Richard stepped off the distance from the cells back wall to the door. His plan was to run at the door and kick the deadbolt loose. He stood at the back of his cell and prayed. He prayed for freedom, and he prayed for strength. This is not the end of the story. Richard would stay in Libya for another two years, and the details of that time, along with a full account of his life is being written into a book. He now lives in Hayden, Idaho with his wife Katie and has founded Armor-Up Evangelism. He speaks of his life and experiences at schools, churches, and prisons around the country. If you have a group that would be interested in hearing Rich speak, you can contact Armor-Up Evangelism at 208-682-5564 or email Rich at