Question: Did you ever wonder why so many veterans wear hats identifying their service in the armed forces of our country? The answer to that question opened my mind to a whole new mission field and ministry right in our back yard.
Recently in separate conversations with Paul Monroe in Columbia, SC, and his brother, Bill Monroe in Florence, SC, they both shared with me their excitement about establishing in their respective churches a ministry to reach the thousands of veterans in their respective cities. These men got me excited about the possibilities in our city. They put me in touch with Steve Massie, a retired Navy submariner and magistrate (judge) who founded a ministry called Discipled Veteran.
I sat down with Steve in a BBQ place in Florence and was immediately pulled in by the quiet demeanor and burning passion in the man who sat across from me, telling me about the veterans that have been reached through the Discipled Veteran meetings that are now in dozens of churches across the country.
Check out these quotes from their website:
“Discipled Veteran’s mission is to help churches recruit, enlist, and train, lost Veterans in your area.”
“COMRADERY (RECRUITING) – Typically, every Veteran has some degree of difficulty adjusting to civilian life after military service. For that reason, crowds and meeting new people are a deterrent to getting them to come to church. Veterans enjoy the comradery of other Veterans and will come to a Veteran meeting at church. After coming a few times, they meet church members and start to attend regular services with the other Veteran church members.”
“SALVATION (ENLISTMENT) Once a Veteran comes to a Discipled Veteran meeting they tend to come back because they trust the comfort they see other Veterans enjoy through Jesus. Often Veterans believe forgiveness and peace is impossible but when you tell them about the warrior David and the fact that God referred to him as “a man after mine own heart” soon veteran comradery leads to Holy Spirit conviction and salvation.”
“DISCIPLESHIP (TRAINING) A Christians job isn’t over after their recruit is saved. In the military Veterans learned how to train those who come behind them, so the doctrine of discipling new Christians comes naturally. After their salvation experience, formal discipleship training is crucial for the new recruit to know the peace of God and being able to explain that peace as they carry out their Great Commission mission.
“GREAT COMMISSION (MISSION) Military Veterans understand war. It’s an easy transition to help them understand that the only difference in this spiritual war and the physical war of their past is this war against Satan has eternal ramifications. It is for that reason they are eager to drag as many as they can from Satan’s battlefield, spiritually triage them, and get them in the fight with them.”
Sitting with Steve, I got burdened, then I saw a man enter the restaurant with a cap identifying his military service. Steve excused himself from the table, went to the man and handed him an invitation to the Discipled Veteran meeting at Florence Baptist Temple. They talked for a couple of minutes, and I saw how quickly their shared service to our country provided an openness and acceptance to an invitation.
Back at home, I had a preliminary meeting with a group of vets from our church. It was soon obvious. These veterans, while from different generations, all shared a military experience that connected them to one another. And they had a burden for other vets without Christ. They already knew and understood the need in a greater way than I. It was exciting to hear them express their views of the potential of a weekly Discipled Vets meeting at our church.
Steve Massie is coming to CSBC in April to be with us for three weeks to get our ministry off the ground. He brings a plan, all the resources needed, including weekly studies written in military lingo. He asks nothing from the church and gives away all the resources.
Since that time, everywhere I go I am looking for…. and seeing vets. In our immediate area there are nearly 30,000 veterans. The Veteran’s Administration tells us that every day, twenty of these who served to preserve and protect our freedoms are taking their lives. The answer for every one of them is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.