A Season of Transformation

September 23, 2015 • United States

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.

Operation Heal Our Patriots

Town residents and our staff welcome new couples each week to Samaritan Lodge Alaska. Marine Sergeant Carlos Evans and his wife Rosemarie of Cameron, North Carolina were among 159 military couples who participated in Operation Heal Our Patriots this summer. Both Carlos and Rosemarie originally hail from Puerto Rico and have been married since 2009.

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.

Ten couples attended the first-ever Canada Week of Operation Heal Our Patriots.

Ten couples attended the first-ever Canada Week of Operation Heal Our Patriots.

Master Corporal Chris Harding and his wife Lisa of Morinville, Alberta, ended the week in the same way many patriot couples have before them—by being submersed in the cold, clear waters of Lake Clark, following Christ in baptism.

“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.”

Jean-Claude Mille ministered to more than 500 couples through Operation Heal Our Patriots.

Jean-Claude Mille ministered to more than 500 couples through Operation Heal Our Patriots.

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.

Bless the Marriage of a Military Couple Operation Heal Our Patriots helps military couples build a strong spiritual foundation during a week of Biblically based workshops, relationship-building wilderness activities, and individual care by our retired military chaplains. We offer all this free of charge to these American heroes as a token of our appreciation for their service and sacrifice. Your gift will help us cover the costs—including transportation, lodging, activities, and long-term Family Care—so that we can help them find hope in the Lord.

Operation Heal Our Patriots 013960
Suggested Gift: $60