Recently Operation Freedom’s Cadence team members met with Dr. Johannes, an Air Force doctor currently working at Baptist Easley Hospital in Easley, SC, in preparation for OFC. Dr. Johannes travels to Germany twice a year to be a part of a team that retrieves soldiers from the battlefield hospital and gives care to patients both in the air and on the ground upon arriving at base hospitals. Prior to meeting with Dr. Johannes our team knew that we were going to Europe to different military bases to encourage, lead worship, and capture it all through photography and videography, but little did we know the ministry that lies ahead.
Dr. Johannes explained that when we arrive we might see soldiers that have had three operations on three different bases and on two continents. He also let us in on the system of care that the soldiers receive from start to finish: 1) Basic treatment “Plug the holes” 2) Intensive Care 3) Operating Room 4) Testing, which lasts 3-4 days 5) More operation etc. Soldiers and different teams of medical professionals are typically in constant transportation, depending on the circumstances of the war, and have to stay physically and mentally ready. The CCAT, Critical Care Air Transport, care for both soldiers and Afghanis that are injured in friendly fire and by their own suicide bombers. When the teams and patients arrive at the hospital it’s loud, action packed and completely different from the U.S.
Towards the end of our briefing Dr. Johannes told us about one of his previous patients, Levi, a young soldier who was injured in friendly fire. The morning before his mission, Dr. Johannes, a follower of Christ, had a feeling that something bad was going to happen. In response, he got down on his knees and began to pray. During the mission he met Levi’s mother and informed her that he had been praying for both her and Levi. She thanked Dr. Johannes and they later arrived at the hospital. When on mission the team that flew the patients in often never see them again, but a week later Dr. Johannes sought out Levi and his mother and was reunited to find Levi alive and well. Levi was very grateful for the care and prayers he had received from Dr. Johannes and insisted on a picture with him. After the picture, Levi told Dr. Johannes that this picture was much more valuable to him than the picture he had just taken with President Barack Obama.
So where does our team fit in to ministering to our U.S. troops? We aren’t medics, fellow soldiers, or a part of the military. Dr. Johannes encouraged us that our ministry is bringing a piece of home to Europe and shining Jesus. We were told that there are several Christians overseas, “but there is a tremendous void of Jesus”. Jesus is the main focus of our mission. You might be thinking, “Well, duh! Isn’t that the focus of every mission trip?” The answer is yes, and here’s why. Two verses that are probably familiar to every Christian if you have been in a body of believers, the Church, for any length of time are John 3:16-17. Here are the verses taken from the Amplified Bible:
“For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life.
For God did not send the Son into the world in order to judge (to reject, to condemn, to pass sentence on) the world, but that the wold might find salvation and be made safe and sound through Him.”
John 3:16-17 tell us God has a love and a passion for people who are “up a creek without a paddle”. Even though the military categorizes officers with higher and lesser rank, in God’s eyes there are no rankings. We are all sinners. We are all “up a creek without a paddle”, but God doesn’t want us to stay there. He demonstrated His love to us that while the entire human race, past, present, and future, were and are still in rebellion against Him, He died for us (Romans 5:8). Why? John 3:16 says because God “so greatly loved and prized the world”. He sent a part of Himself to take on what we deserved and couldn’t handle so that we can know love, genuine, authentic, deep, passionate love. All of our “filth” can be washed away because of Jesus. What a strong message of hope to pass along to our United States troops who are risking their lives for our freedom. Our team seeks to be an oasis in the middle of a dessert where our soldiers can come and find everlasting water, Jesus.
Please join us and be a part of our mission by carrying our team in your prayers, “…With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matt. 19:26).