55 18 22
The numbers in the subject line aren't the winning combination to tonight's Pick Three lottery, but they do have particular significance (at least to me). The last day of August I will begin my 55th year of life! And what a wild, weird, wonderful life it has been. 5 is the Hebrew number for GRACE, so I'm proclaiming this to be my year filled with a double portion of His Grace.
"We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that He has already thrown open His door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand - out in the wide open spaces of God's grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise. There's more to come..." Romans 5:2 The Message
55 years of living
18 years of ministry!
I suppose at 18, I realize I have pursued my "calling" and I'm all grown up (in ministry).
"For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world..." 1 Corinthians 1:26-27 NKJV
It has been a year since the Lord has taken me to distant shores and I admit it has stretched my faith. Whenever I encounter friends I haven't seen in awhile, the first question asked is, "Where are you going next?" It seems I became noted for heading off to exotic "Ends of the Earth" locales. From Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka to Zanzibar, Tanzania I traveled with the enthusiasm inspired by Isaiah 6:8 (Here I am, send me!) But contrary to the notion that I randomly pick a place or time for ministry, I go where AND when, He tells me, and for the last year He's had me stay in the "good ole US of A."
In the past year, I have worked harder, been more disciplined and diligent about the current direction of our ministry's work. I have been out on the "skinny branches" far past what had become my comfort zone of uncomfortable places. I've been focused on 22.
The US government reports AT LEAST 22 veterans EACH and EVERY day commit suicide! Let that number sink in, with all its calculating realities. That equals 1 soldier almost EVERY HOUR, who finds this life hopeless and chooses to end it. One an hour equals EIGHT THOUSAND THIRTY (8,030) per year. As of April 2014, after 13 years of conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan there were 6,802 casualties (without the suicides factored in); pretty staggering statistics.
The cover of the July 23, 2012 issue of Time Magazine was a silhouette of a soldier playing taps. The headline read "ONE A DAY." In two very short years the increase is catastrophic to thousands of spouses, parents and children of those who served our country.
How does this happen? Where does the sense of hopeless frustration come from and what can be done to stop the casualties of war once our military return home?
I've been focused for the last 12 months building a website Resource Directory for military personnel and their caregivers. I've shared the story in past communications how I learned from a caregiver that help and assistance was difficult to find and even harder to access.
Battle Buddy Info (www.battle-buddy.info) has now reached thousands of soldiers and families across the United States, with over 10,000 hits on the website. We've put Resource Cards in Vet Centers, VA Hospitals, and churches from coast to coast. We have an army of volunteer retired wounded warriors who are sharing the message (hope CAN be found) and who have found new purpose for life after their military career has come to a close.
Recently, our Military Liaison was on a retreat in Alaska hiking down the mountain with his group from Operation Heal Our Heroes*, when another group was encountered hiking up. Everyone recognized it was a good place to stop, make introductions and encouragements. Being an outgoing and gregarious, he quickly introduced himself to a fellow wounded warrior (who is a representative of Wounded Warrior Project) and said, "You guys really need to start getting the word out on this website. It really is a game-changer as far as getting help to families fast. Here let me give you my card, the site is www.battle-buddy.info." The other soldier reached in his wallet and ...
pulled out one of our cards! "Is this the site?"
What are the odds?
Shock and awe at the greatness of our God were exclaimed! "How did you get that? Wow!" On a mountain side in Alaska two wounded warriors meet - to encourage and be encouraged!
I'm encouraged as well.
"...we continue to shout our praise even when we're hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next." Romans 5:3-4 The Message
I have found favor in this extraordinary community of heroes. Heroes that went to war, and the heroes of spouses and children who continue to "fight" a battle seldom mentioned in the media. I press on, for I know my calling.
Let's partner together to win the battle (the war is won)!