Allen Clark: Avalon Chronicles #12 "Wounded Warriors Weekend Canada"
Previous messages at www.combatfaith.blogspot.com
Allen's web site is www.combatfairh.com
In 2 Corinthians 4: verse 2 NIV LASB it is written, "...by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God."
It is a great privilege and pleasure for me to report to you about an amazing six days I spent in Nipawin, Saskatchewan, Canada for the second annual Wounded Warriors Weekend. Attending were 176 combat veterans from Canada, England, Scotland, Australia, and the United States. I wish I had an interpreter to fully understand the Aussies and the Scots! There were a few wives and women vets . Over the period in Nipawin (a town of 5,000) half way up Saskatchewan province toward the wilds of the Northern Territories we veterans were treated and feted by some very generous Canadians to fishing, golfing, entertainment, wonderful meals, and a gala banquet. I was sponsored by a Christian gentlemen and his friends from a local church.
I did in fact go out on the golf course once, did fish once (and reeled in a five pound pickerel), spoke at two services, and was interviewed twice on a radio program, but my time was spent in numerous one on one conversations with a group of the finest individuals it has ever been my opportunity to meet. Some of my fellow attendees were severely physically-wounded (burns, amputations, gunshot wounds, eyes lost) and sufferers of Post Traumatic Stress issues and Traumatic Brain Injuries. I was able to tell many my own story of my healing from my double leg amputations and my fourteen week residency in a closed psychiatric ward in 1968. Once I heard their own stories of their combat and peace-keeping tours and other issues of their lives, most allowed me to pray for them. There were many tears shed as I invited them to allow the grace of God to enter into their lives for healing. Only two that I asked, if they wanted me to pray for their healing, turned me down with a "We are not in to that."
I focused on two topics: Identity and Resiliency. I had read a recent article that the major reasons there were suicides among active miltary and veterans was that they had lost their identity and could not bounce back from the traumas of the battlefields and life. I spoke of the pride they should have in their identity as a loyal, courageous, and patriotic warrior who was qualified for military service. But, I spoke very emphatically about the most important identity they should be aware of was that of their faith. Obviously I expounded on my identity as a Christian who believed in the salvation message of Jesus the Christ. I spoke of this in the conversations and in two radio interviews. Resiliency was explained in our ability to bounce back from challenges.
In my first radio interview the interviewer asked about "coping" with our issues. I told him I was past only "coping" to the "healing" stage. In a book by Henry W. Wright he is quoted, "I am not interested in just relief; I am interested in eradicating the necessity for relief....I just have to hold out here for a complete healing." I have been healed from the demons of my double leg amputation and PTSD and I realize that all were dealing with their own demons, but I related in no uncertain specifics that my faith in my Lord Jesus the Christ did it for me. He may not do it for all of us, but unless we get our spiritual life straight and ask for healing, we will never know whether healing can be granted.
It was an incredibly enlightening experience for me to hear the horrors encountered by these brave men and women who served in Rwanda, Kenya, Somalia, Northen Ireland, Vietnam, East Timor (look that one up on the maps), and the usual suspects such as Iraq and Afghanistan. I even met a WWII man who went ashore at Juno Beach on Normandy, was a POW for nine months, released by the Soviets, and walked over three hundred miles to the Black Sea. The stories I heard I will attempt to capture (if enough follow through on my request for their stories) in a third book.
The bottom line for all of us each day is to believe in God's power to heal us and to have faith that we can go beyond coping and relief. Also we must be bold to proclaim our faith in Jesus the Christ. I am 71 now and do not know how many more years may be gifted me and it is too late in life to hold back on expression of my faith in the appropriate settings. I urge you all to go for it! It is the most important gift we can give others, especially our family and loved ones.