Int’l (MNN) – When a soldier deploys, there are many people left behind who struggle with that absence. A loved one is gone, and even if they come back, it won’t be for a long time. How can the church and individuals help those left behind?
A Common Struggle
Numbers from 2017 show 1.3 million active duty military personnel in the U.S. Armed Forces. Those men and women all have families or people they love who are left at home during deployment. That is a lot of people affected by the military.
Steve Prince, an Army veteran and Director of Warriors Set Free, a division of Set Free Ministries, says that deployment especially can be very hard for families left behind. There is a period of grief when a loved one deploys.
“It’s another tough season of life when a veteran or when a service member is gone or when a family has to deal with… it’s a loss of having the mother or father deployed.”
Stepping into the Pain
Families left behind must find a way to continue on, even though their schedules and plans are suddenly upended. They often feel alone or struggle with the notion that their family member may not come home.
So how can the Church help? There is a huge need for family support. Prince suggests that the Church steps in as they would for other tough seasons.
“So the church can come alongside and care about them just like everybody else. But understand that they’re in a tough season.” Prince continues, “so similar to when someone dies, you know, what do we as a church attempt to do? We cook them meals, we shovel their driveway, you know, we send them a card. A parent being gone for a year out of a family is similar to them being… being dead.”
Recognizing the Sacrifice
Prince says simple supportive actions can mean a lot. When people recognize the gravity of what a service man or woman is doing, it speaks volumes. Not everyone appreciates the work soldiers do for our country. Fighting for freedom and the rights of those in the U.S. and abroad is a difficult calling, both for soldiers and their families.
Prince says, “So these families are making a sacrifice. My family made a sacrifice so that our country could deploy a military to influence the situation, hopefully for the betterment of another country and our country ultimately.”
Thanking Service with Service
For Prince, nothing spoke louder of thanks than a veteran neighbor of his who would always shovel his driveway in the winter. He knew Prince was in the National Guard and so every time he saw Prince leave in uniform, he’d shovel his driveway. The action was small, but it meant a lot.
However, even more than a fellow veteran, a strong Christian brother or sister can impact a soldier and their family. Prince asks the Church to consider how it can stand beside those who are deployed and their families.
“So at our core, the Church, we’re a family. How would you treat your brother or sister if they were going through that? And that’s love them in whatever way you can.”
Thank God for those who sacrifice themselves and their loved ones to protect freedom in the United States. Seek out those who need an extra helping hand and show them that their work and their sacrifices are valued.
Learn more about Warriors Set Free here and how you can get involved.
(Header photo courtesy of The White House and Army National Guard photo by 1st Lt. Leanna Litsch on Flickr https://bit.ly/2vdBOUf.)