Hope Begins Here

November 11, 2020 • United States

In Alaska, Ian and Maria Hunt experienced God’s power to shine light and hope into the darkest valleys of a military couple’s life.

Not long before Army Sergeant Ian Hunt arrived with his wife Maria at Samaritan Lodge Alaska, Ian had gone through treatment after attempting to take his own life. He had believed the nightmare of his battlefield experiences and injuries had become more than he could bear.

Army Sergeant Ian and Maria Hunt came to Samaritan Lodge Alaska in search of a miracle to heal their marriage.

Army Sergeant Ian and Maria Hunt came to Samaritan Lodge Alaska in search of a miracle to heal their marriage.

In 2012, on his third deployment, he was severely injured in Iraq in a blast from an improvised explosive device. After that, he was medically retired because of a traumatic brain injury.

“I always considered myself a productive member of society until I became disabled,” Ian said. “Then I became my PTSD. I felt like life wasn’t worth living. I felt everyone would be better off without me.”

A death in the family coupled with chronic symptoms of battlefield post-traumatic stress led him down the road of despair.

“I became out of touch with my emotions. I only knew what anger and rage were. Anytime I felt hurt or sadness or pain it was masked by anger and rage,” Ian said. “That’s what I lashed out with on my family and wife. Anytime you do that it’s a very negative relationship.”

After a suicide attempt at the end of spring, Ian spent more than three months away from his family for residential treatment, and during that time Maria discovered Operation Heal Our Patriots. It was a final effort to salvage their marriage.

“I remember praying and praying and saying ‘God, he’s yours now. Do your work,’” Maria said, recalling the helpless days and weeks leading up to their arrival in Alaska. Just the week before they came to Samaritan Lodge, Ian was reunited with his family and looking for a miracle in their marriage.

The Healing Miracle of Letting Go

“I knew that if we could just get here I trusted God that He would take care of my husband,” Maria said.

God worked in the Hunts that week, opening their eyes to His plan for their marriage.

God worked in the Hunts that week, opening their eyes to His plan for their marriage.

The untiring loyalty and sense of responsibility that are key character traits of remarkable soldiers are also the same honorable traits that make it difficult to heal from traumatic events–especially events that caused the death of fellow soldiers—as happened in Iraq on June 6, 2007.

An IED struck the vehicle carrying his friend Army Sergeant Matthew Soper, killing the soldier instantly as the bomb detonated. Ian recounts this event with emotion, because he’s carried the burden of that day for the last 13 years. He’s felt responsible. He should have been in that vehicle.

“I was supposed to be there that day,” Ian says.

In Alaska, though, both Ian and Maria were ready to lay a new foundation for their lives and marriages. The excursions out into the wilderness and the Biblically based marriage enrichment classes gave the couple time to think and the Gospel-centered tools to consider the direction they should go.

About midway through their time in Alaska, Ian decided to take part in a special ceremony offered each week at Samaritan Lodge. It was a way of both honoring his friend Matthew and also of letting go of the weight Ian had carried after Matt’s death. He decided to tack his memorial bracelet to a dedicated wooden post attached the lodge flagpole.

“When I heard him say that [he would leave the bracelet in Alaska], I prayed ‘Thank you, God. Thank you,’” Maria said.

The Hunts also decided to recommit their marriage, which had been through so many difficult times in recent years. They said it was a new foundation to build from.

“I see hope in our marriage. I see strength in our marriage,” Ian said. “I see God in our marriage again.”

The couple experienced freedom in Christ during their time in Alaska, and how to build on a new foundation for their marriage.

The couple grew in Christ during their time in Alaska and learned how to build a stronger foundation for their marriage.

As we honor the sacrifices of our U.S. military personnel today, Veteran’s Day, please keep all our Operation Heal Our Patriots participants—more than 1,200 couples since 2012–in your prayers. Please consider how you might be able to encourage a veteran and their family at this time.

Christmas Catalog
For many military service members returning from deployment, their homecoming is a joyous occasion. They receive a hero's welcome, greeted by waving flags and the smiling faces of their family. But for others who were wounded in battle, that homecoming means waking up in a hospital room, mind swimming with fuzzy memories of gunfire. Their struggles don't stay behind on the battlefield. The war follows them home, bringing posttraumatic stress, vivid flashbacks, and fractured marriages. We believe that God wants to bring healing to these brave men and women, so each year we invite military couples to Samaritan Lodge Alaska for a week of rest and renewal. There, they learn Biblical tools for a healthy marriage, receive counseling from our retired military chaplains, and have the opportunity to reconnect with each other, surrounded by the Alaskan wilderness. Most importantly, many experience the beginning of a new life by repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. A gift of $6,000 covers the cost of the weeklong trip for one couple—including transportation, lodging, and activities in Alaska—as well as year-round support after they return home.

Bless the Marriage of a Military Couple

For many military service members returning from deployment, their homecoming is a joyous occasion. They receive a hero’s welcome, greeted by waving flags and the smiling faces of their family. But for others who were wounded in battle, that homecoming means waking up in a hospital room, mind swimming with fuzzy memories of gunfire. Their struggles don’t stay behind on the battlefield. The war follows them home, bringing posttraumatic stress, vivid flashbacks, and fractured marriages. We believe that God wants to bring healing to these brave men and women, so each year we invite military couples to Samaritan Lodge Alaska for a week of rest and renewal. There, they learn Biblical tools for a healthy marriage, receive counseling from our retired military chaplains, and have the opportunity to reconnect with each other, surrounded by the Alaskan wilderness. Most importantly, many experience the beginning of a new life by repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. A gift of $6,000 covers the cost of the weeklong trip for one couple—including transportation, lodging, and activities in Alaska—as well as year-round support after they return home.


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