US soldiers are dying in Iraq, a ministry provide hope at home

By June 20, 2005

USA (MNN/YL) — With the United States launching another major offensive along the Iraqi/Syrian boarder, many families of military personnel are concerned. For those who don’t know Christ, it’s especially difficult because their hope isn’t in Christ alone.

Young Life tried to do something about that uncertainty by holding a special camp for more than 150 people from a U-S military installation, Fort Collins, Colorado. Young Life’s Terry Swensen says they stayed at Trail West Lodge for no charge. “Trail West is a unique family vacation that combines the best of resort style accommodations with Young Life, which means a lot of humor, wonderful service from high school and college kids and every night a presentation of the Gospel.”

Soldiers and their families participated. Eighty-five percent of the families attending the camp have been deployed to Iraq in the last 18 months. Swensen says some were even still serving there. “Of the almost 40 families who participated at Trail West, I believe 12 of the families were mothers with their children, their spouses being currently deployed in Iraq,” says Swensen. Many of the soldiers attending the camp will be deployed this fall, so this was a valuable opportunity to spend quality time with their families.

Last August, 38 Ft. Carson soldiers who had recently returned from Iraq attended Trail West family camp with their families for what many said was the “best family vacation of their lives.” The week was such a hit, that when the family camp was advertised at Ft. Carson this spring it only took 12 hours to fill all the spots.

A missionary from Ethiopia uniquely ministered the Gospel to these family members. “We found that the families really resonated with him because he really understands the whole experience of being on foreign soil,” Swesen says.

Swensen says the ministry of the high school and college young people had a huge impact, evangelistically, planting seeds of the Gospel. “Both the service they’ve received from these high school kids who are volunteering their summer to do this, but they’ve also been touched by the kind of role model these teenagers have provided for their own kids.”

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