Veteran’s Day 2015- The Beating Heart of a Patriot

We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair   2 Corinthians 4:8

I’ve been blessed to travel to many places, but Alaska was never one of them.

Until now.

This summer/fall my wife and I had the privilege of visiting Port Alsworth on Lake Clark. There we worked with Operation Heal Our Patriots (OHOP What We Do ) . The program strives to help wounded veterans restore their lives and marriages. My wife and I worked behind the scenes, helping with housekeeping and in the kitchen, respectively. It was an amazing experience because of the remarkable people we got to know and serve.

Each week a new group of ten couples flew in and were greeted by flag-waving folks, many from the town of Port Alsworth (population two-hundred). After greeting the newly arriving veterans at the runway, I had to return to my work in the kitchen. I was so excited after shaking hands with each new veteran and his/her spouse, I could hardly contain myself:

“This is so cool!” I’d grab my supervisor, Mike, by the shoulders and shake him. “I can’t believe I’m here to be a part of this!”

Mike would just grin and look at me. “I know, I know. Don’t tell you anything important for a while. You’re in your own little zone now and it’ll take a while to come down, right?”

“You got it man,” I’d grin back.

Meanwhile, my wife was privileged to take one of the newly arrived couples on a tour of the facilities and show them their own private cabin. Then all the couples were welcomed to the dining hall for a time of introductions and a hearty gourmet dinner.

During the week, the couples participated in several outdoor activities, including bear watching, fishing, hiking, and kayaking. There was also fly-tying and casting demonstrations and instruction. At various times of the day and evenings, retired military chaplains held Bible-based marriage classes, along with offering private counseling sessions for each individual and couple.

Many of the injured veterans had suffered some very deep physical and emotional wounds. My wife and I saw eighty individuals of remarkable courage, as we realized that the spouses of the wounded veterans carried tremendous burdens as well. We heard stories of anger and confusion along with thoughts of suicide and divorce. We also saw the Gospel of Jesus Christ break through many barriers and bring healing and hope to those who thought they were beyond help.

After the couples leave Port Alsworth, folks at Samaritan’s Purse will follow up to help connect them with a local church. The S.P. folks also offer additional marriage enrichment classes along with private counselling and an annual reunion (all expenses paid!) for all the couples. This program is not a one-and-done event.

At the end of their week-long stay, many couples remarked how they now had tools from the Bible to help them with their struggles. Even more important is the hope that is found in Jesus Christ alone; the certainty of forgiveness and the freshness of being a new creation.

We are most humbled to be a small part of a very big thing God is doing in Alaska.

Jesus Christ – Always Faithful.

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