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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Broken by War, Saved by Grace

Check out this video from Military Ministries

Do you ever feel that Holy Spirit nudging, tugging—yanking, dragging—that tells you to do something? Well I’m feeling that now. As someone who is trained in mental health counseling, I’ve been educated in the needs of those who come home from war with very real scars—inside and out. However, over the past two years, this knowledge included experiences my sisters have shared, professionally and through volunteer work, with wounded warriors. firethornbookAs I listened to them sharing their personal stories, I began to read the Discarded Heroes series, by Ronie Kendig, which brought an even deeper sense of what the veteran may experience coming home from war with injuries unseen by the naked eye. And I am overwhelmed—not just by the enormity of what these people have given for me, but by my powerlessness to help.

God is not powerless!

The following are statistics listed in Ilario Pantano’s book, Warlord: Broken by War, Saved by Grace:
  • One in four of America’s homeless are veterans.
  • Five soldiers, sailors, airmen or Marines attempt suicide every day.
  • 58,000 troops died in Vietnam, but more than 100,000 Vietnam veterans came home and committed suicide.
These statistics do not include those who’ve lost their lives through “accidents,” have wasted their lives through substance abuse, or even live in languor because they do not know what else to do.

They’re soldiers. They should be bigger than this.

No. Only God is bigger than this. But someone needs to introduce them to God.

The above mentioned book by Ilario Pantano, when originally released in 2006, was entitled “Warlord: No Better Friend, No Worse Enemy.” It was an account of a soldier’s experience in the Iraq war and his subsequent trial and acquittal of murder charges when he killed terrorists in self-defense. A very moving story. But not nearly as moving as what happened afterward … when God warlord coverfinally got His hands on the man and brought sense to the turnings of his varied life. He has since re-released the book, under the new title “Warlord: Broken by War, Saved by Grace” with a Foreword and Afterward describing his transformation and why others who’ve experienced the trials of war so desperately need this same type of healing. After all, how can you reconcile the kind of death experienced in war until you are given a glimpse from God’s eye? How can you put into perspective your buddy’s bloody sacrifice until you trust the Sovereign Will of God?

You can’t.

As I’ve watched the news since the beginning of our latest efforts in the Gulf to root out evil, I’ve seen mothers and wives interviewed about the needs of our soldiers “over there.” They need equipment, emotional support, care packages and medical care. When they come home they need understanding, jobs, homes and prosthetic limbs. All very important, so they should not be neglected. Many groups, including the government, are scrambling to provide these items. And we should help. But there’s more …

Mr. Pantano describes his own battle with both pride and guilt as he attempted to transition from active duty life on a foreign battle field, to civilian life in an office. He struggled with the knowledge that his “brothers” were still dying even though he’d promised to always be there for them and promised their families he’d bring them home alive. A big promise. One only God can make. Pantano knows this now, because he knows God. This knowledge of God is something that cannot be given at the VA. It can only be done through the church. That’s you and me folks!

I highly recommend Christians who want to help members of the military read this book to better understand the experience of one who has encountered war on a personal level. And if you are not one of those Christians, I highly recommend you become one. Pantano points out that these are not just the men and women who’ve sacrificed their lives for our freedom, they are also often ones whose time here on earth is very limited. The time to heal is now.

So I’ve decided to do a series of posts, on Wednesdays and Fridays through May 9th, about what the church can do for members of our military and their families. These will include examples of what other churches have done, resources for churches, and one woman’s account of what God gave her through her church’s ministry to wounded soldiers. I hope you will join me.

Before I begin this journey, I want to thank those who were used as God’s mighty empty vessels in bringing this ministry to my mind:

Ronie Kendig, for so beautifully displaying the emotional wounds of war and how Christ is the ultimate salve (and so much more).

Ilario Pantano, for re-writing his book, further illustrating that Ms. Kendig’s novels are not just fiction.

My sisters, for sharing with me what God is showing them.

And as always, thank You, Holy Spirit.

If your church is engaged in a ministry for our military, please share in the comments so others may be inspired.


Series Posts:

Invisible Battle 

Related Posts:

My Interview of Ronie Kendig

My Review of Ronie Kendig’s “Firethorn” 

He Enters Our Pain

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