This week our country celebrated Veteran’s Day, honoring men and women who have served our country. The older I get, the more I appreciate their sacrifice and willingness to protect the freedoms I often take for granted.
Like many of you, my family has a history of military heroes. From my grandfather who served in the South Pacific during World War II to my father-in-law who was a pilot in the Air Force to my brother-in-law who was a commander in the Coast Guard, I am grateful for their service.
I’m also grateful for the way churches minister to military families. My daughter attends a church near an Air Force base, and she has developed friendships with young couples living far from family. I’ve seen churches equip military families and see their short-term residencies as opportunities to invest in young men and women who have an impact around the world.
Whether you serve in a church near a military base or not, you likely have members affected by deployments and assignments. How can we learn to minister to women who are either serving our country or taking care of their homes while their husbands are away?
Whether you are thinking about the upcoming holidays or looking for ways to minister to military families at any time of the year, here are five ways you can make a difference.
1. Pray for them. While this may seem obvious, does your church consistently pray for those who are deployed? Is there a visible reminder that during their absence, your heartfelt prayers are never far away? Consider praying for marriages, for their protection, and for the entire family. Pray for them to have gospel conversations with internationals. Pray for them in the same way you pray for missionaries because they too have been sent.
2. Serve their families. Being a military spouse can often be lonely. Seek ways you can serve them. Help with childcare, lawn and car maintenance, or just provide an unexpected gift card for a night to the movies. Include them in your fellowships and provide scholarships to events where they have the opportunity to be spiritually refreshed.
3. Send reminders from home. Discover the needs of those serving far away and gather homemade treats or reminders from home. Your Bible study group could do this together and bless a man or woman serving overseas. Send them a Bible study or invite them to join a LifeWay online Bible study so they can stay connected with other believers.
4. Celebrate homecomings. Show me a video of a surprise homecoming, and you’ll need to provide the tissues. There’s something special about seeing the look on a spouse or child’s face when they are reunited with their loved one. As a church family, plan a celebration and welcome soldiers when they return.
5. Listen to their stories. Coming home isn’t always easy. Be willing to be a careful listener. If someone is having a difficult adjustment, help them find a trusted counselor. Be a friend, but also be an advocate if they are in need of physical or mental healing. Pray the Lord will be their Healer and His Word will sustain them in the good times as well as the difficult ones.
Finally, if you have a strong network of military families in your church, consider going through the Bible study Tour of Duty by Sara Horn. It’s uniquely designed to be a Bible study for military wives and is available here.
Kelly King is the Women’s Ministry Specialist for LifeWay Christian Resources and oversees the YOU Lead events. Join her this year and get to know her heart for ministry leaders. Follow her on Twitter @kellydking.