USA (MNN) — Freedom isn't free, and as we celebrate Independence Day this 4th of July, many remember the sacrifice of our troops in times past and present to keep our country that way: free. With all that our soldiers sacrifice and do for our country, it is encouraging to be able to give back in some way beyond simple recognition with the national holiday.
Faith Comes By Hearing (FCBH) has been providing Military BibleSticks to our troops for over a year now. A Military BibleStick is a small audio mp3 player the size of a pack of gum that plays a dramatized version of the Scriptures. It is extremely portable and comes with a set of ear buds for listening.
FCBH first started handing these out when a group of chaplains came and requested the BibleSticks for their battalions. The first order FCBH put in was for only 1,000 BibleSticks. Since then, the ministry has grown to over 130,000 orders by more than 700 chaplains as the demand for spiritual nourishment in the military has skyrocketed.
Now, with President Obama pulling troops out of Afghanistan, they have to change their game plan. We asked Bill Lohr with FCBH what their plans are for this unique ministry now that troops will be coming back home. Lohr says they will be looking to deal more with the troops coming back home and the V.A. (Veteran's Affairs) Hospitals to encourage the returning wounded.
"As these troops come home, they're still going to need this spiritual protection that only God's Word can provide. We have folks that are coming home that have served two, three or four tours, possibly over in Iraq or Afghanistan. They're going to have a lot that they're dealing with as they come home and try to re-integrate into society here," says Lohr.
Lohr continues, "Really, we feel one of the best ways for them to [re-integrate] is to hold onto their faith and know their faith even more. We really feel that the BibleStick, something they can listen to everyday and get God's Word into their heart, will be something that will truly help them as they come home."
While the focus may shift to meeting the needs of the troops of whom the majority will slowly be coming back to the U.S., others still overseas will not be neglected. Lohr states, "If chaplains continue to partner with us and they say, ‘Hey, I can still use these,' we're going to go out and let our donors and our churches and everybody that we work with know that they're still being requested. We want to meet every request." FCBH is still sending Military BibleSticks to troops that have requested them not only in Iraq and Afghanistan, but also in South Korea, Germany, and Kosovo.
Not only have the BibleSticks been a spiritual encouragement to the soldiers, but they have also literally been a physical encouragement! Exhaustion and lack of sleep ravage a soldier's body with grueling hours and high stress situations. Our soldiers are paying the ultimate sacrifice, spending long days on end overseas in rough conditions to protect the lives of the innocent and the freedom of loved ones at home. With everything they go through, it's not surprising that many soldiers struggle with lack of sleep.
"We get a lot of those [letters] back, troops that are saying, ‘I'm just really too tired at night, and it's great to just be able to plug this in and be able to hear God's Word.' I'd say about 20-25 percent of the cards we get back have something to do with helping them to fall asleep!" Lohr says.
This is such an incredible opportunity to minister to our troops in a way that seems small compared to how they serve us, but it really has had incredible impact. FCBH would ask that you pray for our troops as many are still deployed overseas, and for their loved ones back home. Please also pray for this wonderful evangelistic ministry that will continue to serve the spiritual need of our troops–wherever they may be.