Turning a Struggle Into a Praise!

Photo By Levi Roach
Photo By Levi Roach

During an 8 hour flight my body started to get restless and irritated. Some general thoughts ran through my mind that made my heart respond negatively to the idea of traveling. But I stopped and thought about a verse that should be a reminder of how we should display Christ daily. Paul wrote in Philippians 4:4 “Rejoice in The Lord always. Again I will say rejoice.” My mind decided to think deeper into that, rejoicing in all things good or bad. Sure, our bodies were officially exhausted but my spirit was filled with rejoicing.

Photo By: Levi Roach
Photo By: Levi Roach

Once I began to look past what my physical body was telling me I saw what the Holy Spirit was allowing me to see, which was the excitement that I had been looking forward to sense this trip was planned. How many times in life do we get the chance to go outside of our country to be apart of a movement that is completely focused on building God’s kingdom? For a small town girl like me, it’s a once in a lifetime.

So, what’s my personal mission here? Well, through my love for journalism, I want to capture and witness the moments of God’s children beginning to change the world. I know that my life has been changed and made new through worship so getting an opportunity to be behind a camera documenting the proof of God’s power is the most fulfilling mission I could of ever asked for. It is such a gift just to be here but when I labeled it with a mission statement, I quickly began to forget about my sore body,
hurting feet, popping ears, and jet-lag emotions.

Coming to you from Europe,
Kaycee Blackwell

First Feeder Being Fed

Photo By: Zack Adams

A simple idea that turns into God’s mission, Operation Freedom’s Cadence has officially taken off! We all arrived at SWU on the first day with mixed emotions but one thing was certain, God was already preparing everything for us. From the moment of the idea, God was preparing everything. Dr. Todd Voss, President of Southern Wesleyan University, gave an amazing closing prayer and then we departed for Atlanta. During this moment, I felt a sense that everything was going to be okay. Mission trips are such a rewarding experience but leaving family is never an easy thing to do. We must remember that God gives us more than we can handle to rely more on him as we should. We all boarded the plane that would take us over there with that unshakable faith.

Photo By: Levi Roach
Photo By: Levi Roach

While on the plane, we made humor and laughed as this was a journey that was full of happiness and faith. We are going across the great pond to stir something in someone and allow God to make his presence known to them. God is always working on us and working through us to minister. Reverend Gail Kerstetter has shown unmeasurable faith in this mission trip throughout the process. Gail’s vision with the University Singers to minister to the soldiers is truly God’s work.

Once we landed, we made our connection to Germany. We ended our day safely with devotion and glory. The most influential portion of this trip so far was when we finally sat down in our first hotel and had our devotional time. Since this is my first mission trip, the devotional time meant so much to the team and most importantly to me. Even the feeders need to be fed.

Finally Here,
Levi Roach

God and the French Language

Photo By: Hannah Coleman
Photo By: Hannah Coleman

It was along flight – almost 8 hours long. We left as the sun was finishing it’s descent. A long,warm overnight flight. Scattered across the rear of the cabin, the OFC team settled down for a long nap, or a good movie. I was in a small seat beside a big man, and sleep, for me, was nowhere in sight.

So starting up a film, I prepared to try to enjoy the flight.

However, the movie I picked did not hold half the intrigue of a brief conversation I had a stewardess aboard the flight. We were flying on a massive AirFrance liner, and all of the flight attendants were, naturally, French. So, hopefully to the pride of my beloved high school French teacher, I attempted to order my inflight meal in the stewardess’s native tongue. Unfortunately, whenever the moment came to say “please,” I could not, to save my life, remember the French word for it. This created more than a few awkward pauses after I spoke my order, whereupon I would softly utter a pitiful, English, “please…” I afterward apologized, in French, saying that my French was “very bad.” She replied that it wasn’t, and that she understood me.

Photo By Aaron Brickle

All of this comes down to an simple thought. The pain of my French teacher aside, this short conversation with the stewardess will stick with me much longer than anything else I saw on that flight. This will be a story I tell my friends and family for years to come. But this was a very silly little encounter. God has much bigger plans for this trip than any of us is really ready for; he will put new experiences and, more importantly, new people into our paths. And to each of these individuals, many of them wounded physically and emotionally, we will have an opportunity to show God’s love, forgiveness, and mercy, through music and media. And that, folks, is the reason God has seen it fit to bring us here.

Happily landed,
Aaron Brickle

OFC: Team Briefing

IMG_0787Recently 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).