Church Prays for Soldier's Return

Pastor Brent Snook drew several responses of "Amen" from the congregation as he spoke of the heroism displayed by an Army reservist taken hostage in Iraq.

About 900 people attended two morning services Sunday at First Baptist Church of Glen Este (search), near where Pfc. Keith M. Maupin (search) grew up.

Maupin, known as Matt, has been missing since his convoy was attacked April 9 outside Baghdad (search). In footage first shown Friday on Arab television, Maupin did not appear hurt but was surrounded by insurgents who offered to exchange him for imprisoned Iraqis.

"I believe a hero is one who is willing to sacrifice his life to save the life of another," Snook said. "I would say that Matt Maupin is a hero, wouldn't you? Twenty years old, in the Army reserve and going off to Iraq to keep you and me free."

Maupin, who has been in Iraq for two months, was the first U.S. serviceman and second American confirmed kidnapped in a recent string of abductions.

During the patriotic service, "America the Beautiful" mixed with traditional church hymns. Many wore yellow ribbons and wiped away tears as they sang and prayed.

Photos of Maupin in uniform and as a teenager were projected on a screen behind the pulpit. Snook said Maupin was not a church member but attended some youth activities with friends when he was in his teens.

Church member Mary Allen, 55, of Amelia, said she has been praying for Maupin and the other soldiers in Iraq.

"I don't know the Maupin family, but my heart goes out to them, and I have no doubt that if it's the Lord's will, Matt will be returned to them safely."

Maupin grew up just outside Batavia, a farming community of 2,400 people, and graduated in 2001 from Glen Este High School. His brother, Kent Micah Maupin, is a Marine.

Friends and family say Maupin, who attended classes at the University of Cincinnati and two regional campuses, joined the Army Reserve for tuition benefits and out of a sense of duty.