A Marine and his wife invited Christ into their lives and marriage during Week 3 of Operation Heal Our Patriots
So Matt delaPaz enlisted in the Marines in 2002, while Ground Zero of the World Trade Center was still smoking.
“I was on a delayed start list,” said Matt. “They asked me ‘You still wanna go?’ I said ‘Yes, sir.’”
Everyone who joins an infantry track in the military knows there’s a chance you’ll see friends killed and injured and that you yourself might make the ultimate sacrifice.
But no one can prepare you for the toll it takes on you when you carry your friend’s body to a helicopter or see friends killed nearby.Matt’s first tour, in Iraq with the 6th Marine battalion, was difficult. He saw his share of death.
He knew he needed help to deal with what he experienced, but he was unable to find any.
“I tried to go get help back in 2007, but … it was more a ‘suck it up butter cup’ mentality,” says Matt. “So I put it off and ended up deploying two more times. Both to Afghanistan. I definitely lost Jesus there. I really, really was questioning the faith. I really just felt numb.”
Now in what Matt calls the twilight years of his Marine Corps career, he’s joined the Marine Corps’ Wounded Warrior Battalion and is finally able to address some of the physical and emotional wounds he’s accrued over a decade and a half of combat.
Starting the Next Chapter
At Samaritan Lodge Alaska last week, Matt says he was able to address the wounds his marriage and his faith have incurred over the years. He says he and Brandie take their family to church every Sunday, but Matt says “I went to church, but I wasn’t really there, if you know what I mean.”
In Alaska, though, something clicked, and Matt realized what he and his marriage were missing. The couple received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
“We’ve been going through some hard times lately with our marriage, and we haven’t had time away from the kids in years. It was the first time we’d left the kids behind and we had our time, and then Jesus found his way into it,” Matt said. “When we had the one-on-one time with the chaplains we talked about things we had never talked about before. Usually we kind of keep things to ourselves and stay closed off. Being able to sit there and talk to Chaplain [Dan] Stephens what we talked about really hit home. I had done some things in the past I wasn’t so proud of and he helped us find forgiveness. My wife forgave me and I realized the Lord forgave me.”
Now as Matt is in the process of leaving his military career behind, he sees the transition might not come easy.
“It’s a little hard to swallow. I was 18 when I entered the Marines, and I’m 32 now,” he says. “I’d like to say I was pretty good, and it’s all I’ve ever known.”
What he and Brandie experienced in Alaska, however, may have prepared Matt for what he’d like to do over the next leg of the journey:
“I want to help people like me.”
Please pray for Week 3 couples as they integrate back into everyday life. Pray that they will rely on God each day for strength. Pray also for the coming weeks’ couples as they arrive in Alaska and begin their week of marriage enrichment through Operation Heal Our Patriots.