God did amazing things throughout our fourth season of ministry to wounded military personnel and their spouses.
Operation Heal Our Patriots, a project of Samaritan’s Purse, closed its 2015 season last week after 16 weeks of continuous ministry to wounded military personnel and their spouses.
This summer 159 military couples traveled to Samaritan Lodge Alaska through Operation Heal Our Patriots for a week of marriage enrichment. In Alaska, husbands and wives participated in Bible-based marriage classes, listened to daily devotions, and were offered private counseling with our retired military chaplains. They also enjoyed numerous outdoor activities together, including kayaking, hiking, fishing, and wildlife viewing. The lodge generally accommodates 10 couples each week.
2015 marked the longest season ever for Operation Heal Our Patriots. A full 16 weeks were offered—compared to 15 in both 2014 and 2013, and 12 in 2012. This year 92 couples publicly rededicated their marriages to God and each other. In addition, 109 individuals were baptized and 92 made commitments to Christ.
Each week this summer brought transformation. Some came to Alaska as believers and left reinvigorated in their faith. Some came searching and questioning, but left knowing that they had received forgiveness and salvation through Christ, the Solid Rock. Some were considering suicide or divorce, yet they left with newfound hope for their lives and marriage.
Wounded Marine Knows His Strength Is in Christ
Marine Sergeant Carlos and Rosemarie Evans came during Week Five. They are strong Christians and made a big impression on staff, volunteers, and other participants. They also received much themselves—a boost of Christian encouragement as well as tools and knowledge to help strengthen their marriage.
Carlos, who lost both his legs and his left hand to an IED blast in Afghanistan in 2010, admitted he was in despair after his injury. He did not know if he could be the father and husband his wife and two daughters needed.
“When I was first injured, I didn’t think I was going to be a good father. I thought they were going to be ashamed of me.
“When I gave up on myself, when I didn’t want this body—because I wasn’t born this way—she [Rosemarie] loved me and God loved me,” Carlos recounted. “So, I saw God’s love through my spouse.”
On day Rosemarie told him straight out: Carlos, I’m not a widow. You’re still a husband and father, and you cannot give up now. In time, he began to consider his life through a different lens.
“In Christ we’re more than conquerors, we’re never victims,” he said.
Carlos realized he could still influence others, including his children. In fact, he sees now that his life has greater influence than ever before.
“You’re more effective when you touch someone with your heart rather than your hands,” he said. “I’m touching more people now with one hand than when I had two hands. I’m leaving more footprints now than when I had two feet.”
Rosemarie describes Carlos this way: “He’s a man of God, because he loves God, and that’s something I respect about him.”
“In Christ we’re more than conquerors, we’re never victims.”
Carlos and Rosemarie continue to learn to accept each other, help each other, and grow in Christ together. They were blessed by their time in Alaska and the teaching they received there through Operation Heal Our Patriots. At week’s close, they rededicated their marriage to Christ and each other along the shores of Lake Clark.
“I know in my heart that I’m going to be a better husband,” Carlos said. “I’m going to be a better father. I’m going to be a better man of God.”
A First and a Farewell This Summer
Thanks to the financial and prayer support of Canadian donors, this summer’s 16th week was set aside specifically to serve 10 wounded veterans from Canada and their spouses. It was a first for Operation Heal Our Patriots.
“It’s the next step in our faith,” Lisa said. “We’ve accepted the Lord into our lives, and this is to be cleansed, to be renewed.”There was much rejoicing this summer at Samaritan Lodge Alaska, but there was also sadness. On September 2, Samaritan’s Purse chef Jean-Claude Mille died. Master of the Samaritan Lodge kitchen, Jean-Claude’s cooking and his zest for life brought great joy to participants, staff, and volunteers. His zeal for sharing the Gospel through his personal testimony marked him as a valued Operation Heal Our Patriots team member and he will be sorely missed.
Please continue to pray for our aftercare staff as they minister to project participants year-round. Pray for our patriot couples to find local Bible-believing churches and for them to grow in faith, in love, and in purity.