Making a Difference for Military Members
A New Letter from Franklin Graham
May 1, 2012 - At BGEA, we want to make a difference in Christ’s Name for as many servicemembers and their families as we can. With your help and prayers, we are reaching out in a number of strategic ways.
by Franklin Graham
After 9/11 and the war that followed in Iraq and Afghanistan, American troops have finally been withdrawn from Iraq. Over 1.5 million men and women served in that conflict, with many of them deployed multiple times. We have all seen the great strain placed on these individuals and their families, and we thank God for each one and the price they have paid to protect us and our freedoms as Americans.
Tens of thousands of our military servicemembers still serve in harm’s way around the world, separated from their families and living in danger for long periods of time. Tragically, thousands of America’s best are now facing the immense challenge of living the rest of their lives with debilitating war injuries. Marriages are also a casualty—we see increasingly large numbers of military marriages in distress, strained by the physical and mental scars of war.
At BGEA, we want to make a difference in Christ’s Name for as many of these servicemembers and their families as we can. With your help and prayers, we are reaching out in a number of strategic ways.
For example, chaplains in the armed forces need help and encouragement. They are overwhelmed and have been asking us to work with them in appropriate ways. When invited, we hold evangelistic events led by my oldest son, Will, on and near military bases. These events are always voluntary, and they are free. We bring great Christian artists who perform for the troops, and Will presents the Gospel that is “the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16, ESV). The gatherings are usually packed, and we have seen thousands of servicemembers willing to step out in front of all their peers, confess their sins, and receive Jesus Christ by faith. It sends chills through my body as we see the Holy Spirit at work.
Every year, BGEA also invites hundreds of active-duty, married servicemembers to come to the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove near Asheville, N.C., with their spouses for a time of Bible teaching, refreshment, and marriage enrichment. Through the support of friends like you, we provide this at no cost to those who come.
We also hold chaplains retreats at The Cove for military chaplains and their spouses. As you know, chaplains play a crucial—and often overlooked—role in caring for the emotional and spiritual needs of American troops under stress. Again, this is provided at no cost to them, and we want to continue that as well as make it possible for many more to participate. We also provide books and resources to many chaplains and others in the armed forces.
But all of this is not without opposition. Atheist groups don’t want any Christian outreach among our American troops. They are committed to spiritually neutering our society and our military, and many who hate God and hate the Name of Jesus Christ use every opportunity to attempt to stop any type of spiritual ministry. One group even sponsored an atheist “rally” at an Army base on the very same spot we had recently held an evangelistic event, mocking our outreach by trying to imitate it with bands and anti-Christian speakers.
You may have also heard recently in the news about the controversy over crosses at Camp Pendleton in California. Two 13-foot wooden crosses stand on a remote hilltop deep within the base. The original cross was carried up and erected by seven Marines, four of whom have since died. These crosses were meant to be a symbol of sacrifice in honor of their comrades who valiantly fought and died for our country. One atheist read a newspaper article about the memorial and, though he had never seen it or even visited the Marine base, launched a campaign to demand that it be removed.
What will come next if those in opposition are allowed to have their way? Would we have to take all the crosses off the graves of our fallen heroes at Arlington National Cemetery or the beach at Normandy? Would military chaplains who are Christians be required to remove the cross from their uniforms? Where would it stop? The vast majority of Americans say they believe in God, and the few who don’t should not be able to force the rest of us to give up our core values and beliefs just to satisfy them.
I urge you to stand with me against those who want to destroy any symbol of the religious heritage that made America so great. Christians who care about our troops need to write positive letters to those in authority in support of ministry to servicemembers on military bases. If we don’t take a stand on issues like these, freedom of religion will continue to disappear in the United States. We need to diligently pray for our country and its leaders, and pray that God will continue to have mercy on America. We also ask for your prayers that, regardless of opposition, God will continue to open doors of opportunity for BGEA to minister to even more military personnel.
In upcoming weeks, we have Crusades in Budapest, Hungary; Riga, Latvia; and Rochester, New York. Pray with us that many will “turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus” (Acts 20:21, NIV).
Your gift this month can make a difference in reaching lives with the Gospel. Jesus Christ has the power to change lives for today and for eternity, and He is the only hope. We are only able to carry out this ministry because of the prayers and financial help of friends like you, and we are tremendously grateful for your partnership.
May God richly bless you,
SUPPORT the military ministry at the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove. Your gift for military outreach can help provide marriage enrichment seminars for active-duty servicemembers, as well as Bible-based help and encouragement for military chaplains and their spouses.
SUPPORT military outreach by your prayers. Pray for courage for men and women serving in our armed forces. Pray that many hearts will be open to the power of the Gospel. Ask God to strengthen marriages, and pray for the ministry of active duty chaplains who are Christians.