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December 2021- February 2022

We Need Each Other


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Ministering to Veterans

By Terry Austin


Outside my window stands a 30-foot flagpole flying the American flag. I had it installed as a testament of my love and commitment to our country and to serve as a daily reminder of the many service members who have sacrificed their lives for our freedom. Recently, I lowered the flag to half-mast to honor 13 of America’s sons and daughters killed in Afghanistan by suicide bomb attack August 26. Our country mourns the loss of these service members, and I know their families will be changed forever.

Many people have been affected by this tragedy and will be trying to make sense of it for a long time. Veterans especially will wrestle with their own experiences, their sense of loss, a sense of betrayal, and their personal faith among many other things.

Soldiers experience things that are not the norm for Americans. They see and hear things that should never happen. They experience cultures vastly different than their own and do things they would not normally do. For example, they train to fight and win America’s wars. They adopt a different mindset and see things differently because of their training and experience. Their training is designed to instill confidence in their fellow soldiers and the equipment they use, and when either has been compromised they feel betrayed and deeply hurt.

The U.S. departure from Afghanistan and resulting loss of the country to the Taliban has many veterans questioning whether their sacrifices were worth it. They question our country’s leadership, and they question their own actions in accomplishing their own missions. These sacrifices include the loss of time at home, broken marriages, and strained friendships, which cause deep hurt and disappointment. Although we pray for our leaders and trust God to influence their hearts, the sense of loss and betrayal is very real to veterans.

Ministering to veterans is only one of the many outreaches of the local church. It requires patience and an appreciation of what veterans may have experienced. But this ministry strengthens their faith and their sense of belonging. They need to experience God’s love and forgiveness through you and others as they struggle with these issues in their lives. They need to know Jesus will never leave them or forsake them (Hebrews 13:5).

Our faith in Christ will carry us through dark days, for we know He is unchanging, and His love for us endures forever. Veterans need to know God has forgiven them, and they need to forgive themselves for anything hindering their faith in God. Many resources are available online and in print, but it is always good to be reminded of these truths in person and see them practiced in the lives of our family and friends.

Ministering to veterans and serving in the military is not new for Free Will Baptists. The founder of the Free Will Baptist movement in the North, Elder Benjamin Randall, not only served in the army during the Revolutionary War but also provided services as a chaplain. Jesus Himself supported soldiers and instructed them on how to carry out their duties (Luke 3:14). Serving in the military has its challenges, but it is honorable. Veterans should feel appreciated, especially in our churches, and even more during difficult days like the ones described above.

If I can help you minister to veterans, please contact me. It would be my pleasure to assist you.

About the Author: Terry W. Austin is chaplain support officer for Free Will Baptist North American Ministries. Learn more about the chaplaincy:


©2022 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists