Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Faith in the Foxhole

I just returned from a week spent at Ft. Collins, Colorado, attending a conference for the Military Ministry (part of Campus Crusade.) I’ve been involved in the military ministry in San Antonio ever since my middle daughter was deployed to Iraq. Being the mom of a military girl has shown me a whole new meaning of courage. (She’s home now, thank God, at least for the time being.) I guess it’s a mom thing, but I am in awe over and over that our country’s freedom is willingly defended by teens and young adults.

I teach Sunday school to basic trainees in boot camp (mostly eighteen- and nineteen-year-olds), am on the ministry prayer team, and do a monthly newsletter for our teaching team. We’re dedicated to helping those deployed, as well as their families left behind. The families need prayer and support too. Currently a shocking 78% of our deployed officers are going through a divorce. Our young men and women are paying a heavy price. The military ministry is also helping there with marriage workshops on defending the military marriage and defending the military family (ISBN 1-57229-723-9).

Admittedly, I got involved in this ministry because my daughter was deployed and I felt the need to do something concrete to help other parents’ kids. Even now, when I look at the up to 100 young faces in my Sunday classes, I often see my daughter’s face instead. When I read the prayer requests at the end of class, my heart aches for the loneliness and fear and worry over loved ones back home expressed by these teens. Most of the trainees are dealing with more than succeeding at boot camp. Sure, prayer requests include expected things like “Pray that I’ll get my shirts folded right for inspection” and “pray that I learn to march right.” More often, though, it’s “Pray for my buddy on medical hold after attempting suicide,” “Pray that my mom can take care of my sisters without me,” and “pray that I won’t have to kill anyone.” During the week, boot camp prepares their bodies to respond correctly. On Sundays we study God’s Word—and how to apply it—to help prepare them spiritually.

Our young military believers—soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, and coast guard—not only serve their country, but they are missionaries on the world’s battlefields. They deploy and start Bible studies, make-shift churches, and praise and worship teams. The photos and reports they send back are a real encouragement. They epitomize our motto: “Faith in the foxhole, hope on the home front, to the ends of the earth.”

The conference made me particularly aware of the personal warfare we should all be engaging in. Satan has artillery (weapons of mass destruction) and leaves wounded on the field. Who will help them heal and get back in formation so they can fight? We don’t all wear uniforms, but we’re all at war. A spiritual war rages around us at all times. We must fight our own spiritual war on terror. As they say in the military, “Readiness never takes a day off.” We mustn’t either.

God bless our military kids and their families. Please keep them in your prayers.


Spatula said...

This hits home, especially since quite a few of my friends and classmates are now enlisted and serving on bases across the country. I can't imagine the things they must face. Fortunately, only two of the bunch I know will be dealing with a relationship as well as the military. And one of the wives is in the service with her husband. We're definitely praying for our men and women serving our country.

Kristi Holl said...

I know how much they appreciate your prayers. And your mail! Getting letters from home is the high point of the week. I think the saddest prayer requests I get are for mail from home when they feel forgotten. Bless you!