Over the past few weeks, I’ve focused on the needs of our military members. Today, I’d like to focus on what the church can do for them and their families. These are wives without their husbands, husbands without their wives, and children missing at least one parent for long stretches of time. They need support.
As a person working in a counseling office I’ve seen families stressed by the parent or spouse who works long hours and/or goes on frequent business trips, only to come home, fried, to a spouse who’s juggled multiple burdens. This takes a toll on the marriage, the family and each individual within it.
Now, imagine if that business trip spanned months, or even years, and the stress of the “deal” was replaced by the threat of peppering bullets, bitter enemies and IEDs. A real and immediate concern for many of our citizens today. These families need help—physical, emotional and spiritual help. They need assistance for the care of the home and family as well as the multiple burdens from the scars within.
Many churches are assisting families in important ways. Is yours one of them?
The following is a list generated mostly by Jean King, of Military Ministry (a division of Campus Crusade for Christ, International), outlining the kinds of supports given to her as a military wife, as well as what her church (and others) have done. I have also included a few ideas I picked up from discussions I had while compiling this series. Hopefully, they will spur some ideas of your own.
· Help with minor car repair or maintenance for the spouse of the deployed.
· Male member of the church helping son with Boy Scout projects.
· Families inviting kids for pizza and game night.
· Help with transportation to sports, school or church activities.
· Single woman helping mothers with Christmas morning set-up.
· Care packages for the deployed.
· Phone calls and cards of encouragement for family members and deployed.
· Support groups for at-home spouses discussing fears and challenges; encouraging and praying.
· Support groups for military members transitioning to civilian life.
· Camping ministries for survivalists transitioning to the world of home and office.
· PTSD groups for those still haunted by images of war (see resources).
· Buying flowers on Valentine’s Day.
· Gift cards for spa days for overburdened moms.
· Meals for overburdened moms.
· Marriage Support groups, such as “Homebuilders Bible Study,” “Loving Your Military Man,” Making Your Marriage Deployment Ready,” and “Defending the Military Marriage.”
· Watching kids for a Parent’s Night Out, both when deployed as well as while couple is transitioning to home life back together.
· Bible studies specific to needs (see above).
· Bible/Devotional packages for the deployed (not just those in your church, but ones who may not yet know God).
· Prayer sheets for deployed, listing where they are, family’s name and expected date of return. But don’t forget to continue to pray after they DO return.
· Military Appreciation dinner.
· Youth group activities on same night, while parents are at dinner.
· Appreciation picnic.
· Special Recognition on Veteran’s Day, Fourth of July and Memorial Day.
· Meals brought for families when deployed returns home.
I’m sure there are many valuable ways we can support those who have risked their lives for us. Don’t stop at these!
Military Ministry is definitely a great resource. Check them out.
Feel free to share ideas of what your church is doing in the comments below. Thank you.
Related links in this series: