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Honoring Our Military | Megan Brown

Building Relationships / Dr. Gary Chapman
The Truth Network Radio
May 20, 2023 1:00 am

Honoring Our Military | Megan Brown

Building Relationships / Dr. Gary Chapman

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May 20, 2023 1:00 am

If you’re in a military family or you know someone who is, don’t miss this Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman. You’ll hear two guests talk about the struggles of the modern military spouse. How do you know what you’ve signed up for? Can you follow Jesus, love people and live on mission as a military spouse? Hear the encouragement on the next Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman.

Featured resource: Know What You Signed Up For: How to Follow Jesus, Love People, and Live on Mission as a Military Spouse

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What I've really found, um, as a military spouse is that, um, the military calls us to serve and sacrifice.

The Lord calls us to that for sure. It's my goal to not only unpack a really hard topic like loneliness and have people understand it in a way that's digestible, but to bring them back to faith. Welcome to Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, author of the New York Times bestseller, "The 5 Love Languages" . Today we honor military families by taking a look at the struggles of military spouses. We have two guests for you who are living what they've written about in separate books on this important topic. Author, speaker, Megan Brown is back with a book titled, Know What You Signed Up For, How to Follow Jesus, Love People, and Live on Mission as a Military Spouse. And Jessica Manfree is a licensed social worker and author of Never Alone, Ruth, The Modern Military Spouse, and The God Who Goes With Us.

You can find both of those books at our website, Our host is Dr. Gary Chapman. And my guess is Gary, this topic is really close to your heart.

Well, it is Chris. You know, I have spoken on a number of military bases, both in this country and in other countries and have a real heart for that. In fact, it was military chaplains who encouraged me to write a military edition of "The 5 Love Languages" and among other things to focus on how to express the love languages when you're deployed. So, yeah, I have a real heart for military. My dad was in the Second World War, and so through all my life, I've grown up with a deep respect and concern and prayer for the military. So I'm excited about our conversation today.

That comes through an awful lot on this program, and you're going to hear it again as we meet our guests. Megan Brown is a military spouse, mom, Bible teacher, and the founder and executive director of MilSpoCo, Military Spouse Coalition. She's a graduate of Moody Bible Institute with a degree in ministry leadership. And one of our featured resources is her book, Know What You Signed Up For, How to Follow Jesus, Love People, and Live on Mission as a Military Spouse. We're also joined by Jessica Manfre, M-A-N-F-R-E, in case you're playing the home game. She is a licensed social worker, author, chief financial officer of Inspire Up, a nonprofit that serves the military and first responders. She received national media attention for her initiative, Hashtag Giving Tuesday Military, which encouraged people to offer one million acts of kindness.

We'll talk about that today. Her book is titled Never Alone, Ruth, The Modern Military Spouse, and The God Who Goes With Us. You can find both of these resources at our website, Well, Megan, welcome back to Building Relationships. And Jessica, welcome to Building Relationships.

Thank you. Jessica, I understand Megan was a real encourager for you to put your thoughts down on paper. Is that true? I like the adjective that you used to describe her passionate unwillingness to not let me write this book. She is such a beautiful soul and wonderful friend, and she saw something in me.

And isn't that the truth, right? We don't always see ourselves the way others do. So she definitely was the encourager and the reason behind saying yes, even though I said no probably 10 times first.

Well, that's great. We all need encouragers along the way. So Jessica, talk about your title, Never Alone. What are you trying to communicate or get across in this book? You know, when I wrote this, I really wanted the reader to feel like they were sitting at a table with me having coffee, where we could unpack the topic of loneliness and really dissect it and understand what it means, both clinically, because I am a social worker, through my own experiences, because I'm what Megan and I like to say, seasoned at this point.

You know, I've been with my husband for 18 years, married 15. So I've done a thing or two in this life and gone through it. But more than that, I wanted to offer hope, hope through our faith. And I just love the story of Ruth.

I think it's the story of every military family. You can find so much every twist and turn, you know, through those words. And so my goal was to kind of compile it all and really offer up a resource to our military spouse community, that, you know, really just brought that hope and that love. And that knowing that God is always with us through everything. Well, it's certainly a need.

There's no question about that. I'm looking forward to discussing this further with you. Megan, listeners may recall some of your story from our previous conversation, but give us an overview and tell us, did you have any idea what military life would be like when you got married?

You know, Dr. Chapman, I wish I could say that I did, but I had absolutely no idea. And, you know, my husband and I joke often that, you know, if you could have been around to see the early 2000s battle dress uniform, I mean, he just looked so wonderful in that black t-shirt that I was not counting the cost. So, you know, when we got married, we had no idea what kind of challenges we would face and what kind of situations we'd have to endure or overcome. And I think in the same way, when we are looking at our spouse in uniform at the end of an aisle, we're thinking about adventure and excitement and all the fun we're going to have together. You know, when we give our lives to Christ, we're also looking at a lifetime of love and really into eternity. And I promise you in that moment, we aren't counting the cost. But what I've really found as a military spouse is that in the same way the military calls us to serve and sacrifice, the Lord calls us to that for sure.

Yeah. Jessica, what are, Megan alluded to this, what are some of the struggles that military spouses face and some experiences they have that civilians may not understand and wouldn't even think about? You know, I think we all have a shared life experience, Dr. Chapman, when it comes to stressors and the things that, you know, we may have barriers, you know, hardship. But to continually have all of that, but move every, you know, two to three years, restarting your life over is really difficult to not feel a sense of welcoming. Although people are wonderful, you know, when they find out my husband is in the service, oh, thank you, it's this. But we've been at places where that was the extent of the welcoming, was those platitudes, because they too were, well, why am I going to invest in this?

You're just going to move, you know, and that makes it even harder. And this wasn't just, you know, at the schools, you know, my son was attending, but also in churches. And so I don't think the average civilian, if you will, understands how much that hurts and how much that unfortunately causes more harm and definitely more loneliness.

Yeah. Megan, what would you add to that, that military couple struggle with that perhaps civilians would not be aware of? You know, one of the things we talk about a lot in church spaces is that most congregations would be absolutely welcoming, but there's a difference between being welcomed and being wanted. And I think to add to what Jessica is saying, many of our civilian counterparts don't understand that when we arrive at a new station and we are in the process of rebuilding, we're also managing all the emotions in the household, our spouse, our children, even our own. And we don't always have the bandwidth to pursue new friendships.

And so to add to what Jessica is saying, I think one thing that most people don't understand about us is that we have a longing and a desire for friendship and we have a desperate need for connection, but we don't always have the mental or emotional real estate to dedicate to meeting that need for ourselves. We need the men and women around us in the church, in the communities to understand that we're exhausted and tired and to carry the burden of creating new connections. You know, as I listen to you, I'm reminded of a time that I sat down with about 20 Navy SEALs, military wives, just the wives, and I said, just tell me what it's like. And among other things, one of them said, well, I know this is crazy, but when my husband's deployed, if a car door slams outside my apartment, I listen carefully to see if there's two car doors that will slam because I know if there's been a casualty, two people will come to my door. And I thought, man, civilians have no concept of that. And another lady spoke up and said, well, I know this is crazy, but there are nights that I lie in my bed and plan my husband's funeral. And again, tears came to my eyes. You know, I just think there's a lot of things that military spouses and couples go through that the average civilian never even has even thought about, let alone experienced.

So I'm really glad that you gals are speaking to this issue. Jessica, you mentioned earlier that in your book, you use the Old Testament story of Ruth. Now, how does her story connect with military families? Well, I can tell you that when it comes to that very well-known quote, where you go, I go, it's something that just, it's a part of our story, right? No matter what the military brings us, we're going to follow our spouse and that is going to be our journey. And so I saw so much of this, you know, their relationship between Naomi and Ruth and what, you know, we have not just with our service member, but you know, with the spouses that are around us and the relationships that we cultivate and develop, you know, we're in it, right? You know, I joke that it's like a fight club that you can't leave. Like this is, this is our life. So we have to, we have to do it together, but do it beautifully. And sometimes that means holding people up when they can't hold themselves up.

Right. You know, if you, if you go through the book of Ruth, you know, Naomi was bitter. She was blaming everything on everybody else and wanted no part of healing, wanted no part of Ruth following her. But Ruth does that steadfastness that she absolutely needed. And we need that. You know, I'm as strong as I can be, right? But there are days that I am not, and I need those friends. I need my spouse. We need each other.

Yeah, I think Ruth is a good example of that. When she said to Naomi, you know, where you go, I go. Your people be my people. Your God, my God.

Where you die, I will die. I mean, that's commitment. So Megan, let's talk about your title.

What do you mean by the title? Know what you signed up for. You know, when we usually are in the church or in a conversation and we are sharing hard things with the men and women around us, every once in a while, there is a phrase that gets thrown out, almost like unwanted garbage. And someone will say to us, well, you knew what you were signing up for.

I can tell you, there's no quicker phrase that will result in some serious eye rolling from our community. We absolutely did not know. And like I said earlier, when we give our life to the Lord, we don't always know what he's going to ask us to submit to him, to sacrifice, to suffer through. And, you know, really this book, it's almost a love letter to the younger version of myself as a military spouse to tell me when we sign on the dotted line in military marriage, especially when we sign on the dotted line to give our life to the Lord, we're called to love him with all of our heart, soul, strength, to abide within his people in the local church and to live for the Great Commission. And when Jesus spoke the Great Commission, he took into consideration that we were broken, sin-soaked and selfish people with hard circumstances and our status as a military community member or a military spouse.

It doesn't exempt us from the Great Commission. And that's really what this book is about. You know, I think no question about it. We're all planted in different places as God guides our path.

But wherever we are, we're there to reach out in his name to minister to others and ultimately seek to lead people to Christ. No question about that. Jessica, in your book, you share about your parents' divorce, your father's alcoholism. Those are huge issues in many families, including those in the military, right? Absolutely. I mean, statistically, you know, if you do a quick search, you'll see, you know, military families, spouses and members, they have higher rates of dependency on substances, you know, namely to cope.

Right. So I don't think that my story and my upbringing is any different. I would bet that there are quite a bit of service members who enter into the service to escape, you know, a home life. And many times they are bringing that trauma from that past and then they are getting married young because they're lonely. And then you've got two people trying to navigate the challenges that include the possibility of a service member dying in service to this country. And it's a lot.

It really is. And it's, you know, kind of that topic that nobody wants to talk about, but it's there. And if we don't talk about it, it's not going to change. And we're going to keep losing people.

Yeah. What's one reason why I'm glad that there are chaplains in the military and there are also mental health people who are there to try to help and, of course, organizations from the outside like CREW and others are there depending on different bases, of course, because addiction to alcohol and drugs is a problem just throughout our culture. And of course, the divorce issue is also military divorces. The divorce rate among military is higher than the divorce rate in the civilian population. So those are those are both key issues. Megan, with the pressure on military families, the constant moving, the disconnection from family and friends, how basically do you think the military couples are doing with with all of that?

Oh, man, I think we're barely hanging on. And, you know, when I talk about who we're speaking to when we wrote these books, I mean, we had three different types of women in mind. We had the young military spouse who is really suffering through loneliness and trying to figuring out, you know, figure out early parenthood or navigating relationships with others. There are women who have been around this for a little while and are striving. They're trying to master this lifestyle with all their to do list and their planning and, you know, all of those things. But really, the women in my mind are women like me who have been around 15 to 20 years waiting on the rest that never come on the other side of this deployment, on the other side of this move, on the other side of this season, hoping and praying that we will get a break. And I can tell you, as a woman who's been around this community for nearly 20 years, there have been no breaks. We have to really be intentional about working Sabbath and sabbatical into our lives as a rhythm.

And so I think as a whole, you know, the military spouse community is not doing great. We don't really understand the value of real rest versus, you know, the very surface level self-care things that are talked about today, but truly resting in the Lord and being still before him to just rest in his presence, rest in his word. And so, you know, that's kind of one of the reasons we wrote these books is to really give them tangible help to grow a relationship with God so that they can do more than just survive to the 20-year line, you know? Yeah. We know that God is with us, but sometimes we forget that he wants to help us in that whole process.

Yeah. Like all of life, I often wonder how anyone makes it without God in today's world when there's no awareness that God is and that God loves us and that God wants us to walk with him. And I think that's why ministries like you're talking about are so important in military couples, trying to help them find the sense of comfort and peace and power that is found in Christ. Jessica, what led you to become so passionate about the military community and wanting to do something to try to help?

I kind of fell into it, and I'm not even joking. My husband is active duty Coast Guard, which is the smallest service. You know, many times the duty stations we've been assigned to, you know, if he was on a ship, maybe, you know, you're talking about less than 100 people.

You know, if he was in a smaller unit, you know, even less than that. And so, you know, I always knew my path was going to be social work. I've always been an advocate for those in need and standing in the gap.

But in 2019, during the partial government shutdown, the Coast Guard went without pay. And I don't like to sit around. I don't sit so well. I'm constantly doing something that's just, you know, part of who I am.

It's probably the caffeine also. But, you know, I was like, you know what, I can't I can't make their house payments. I can't do X, Y, Z. But you know what? I can feed them. And I started a little pantry that turned into a little And that kind of opened my eyes to the struggle of, you know, the pandemic. I was like, you know what, I can't I can't make their house payments.

I can't do X, Y, Z. But you know what? I can feed them. And I started a little pantry that turned into a bigger pantry that turned into me being all over the news of the baby on my hip because she was still, you know, really little. I think she was only 15 months old, my daughter, when all this happened. And that kind of opened my eyes to the struggle of, you know, not just our Coast Guard families, but military families as a whole. You know, I received an award that year, and that kind of opened the door to deeper relationships with spouses and other branches. And from there, I was in it. I'm a loud person, right? So why not use my voice for good?

You know, I've lived in it. I know what I'm doing at this point because I'm seasoned. And it just became second nature for me to make sure that I was advocating for the community I love so much.

Yeah, I want us to talk further about that a little later. But I'm glad that God, if he pushed you into it or he shoved you into it, at any rate, I'm glad that you stepped forward. So, Megan, talk about the spiritual component of this. Why is the work of evangelism and discipleship in the military community so important to you? Oh, man, I really believe that the Lord is in fierce pursuit by the men and women in the military community.

Our lives are perfectly positioned to serve him on the mission, the Great Commission. We are already in the nations. We reside in all lower 48. We're in the middle of oceans. We're in Europe.

We're in Asia. The Lord has called us to leverage our talents, our time, our job for the Great Commission. And so when I think about the spiritual component of this, I see the potential for the Great Commission to be fulfilled in our day. I think about the ability for us to carry the gospel as we are going, moving every two to four years, using our ability to build community as a place for discipleship and to give hope to a lost and hurting community.

I think that the military community is still one of the most unreached people groups in our country. They are far from the Lord. They are far from the Lord, and the focus on evangelism for me is really fueled by that Revelation 7. Like, I want to see in front of the throne my tribe, the military tribe, I want to see that nation and tongue proclaimed there.

You know what I mean? I want to see us represented in that Revelation 7 praise of the Lord. When we get there, you know, we focus on that. Well, what does discipleship look like in the military?

It's really organic. I think the thing that most people do is they tend to over-program discipleship. It is less about, you know, meeting once a week in a local coffee shop. And it's more life on life, shoulder to shoulder, knee to knee, playing with kids on the floor, kicking my couch laundry out of the way so that we can have, you know, whatever easy dinner I threw together on a paper plate and talking about the things that are happening and how God is moving. I think that that is a much more honest discipleship than the programmatic approach we tend to take. It's six women in a living room with a coffee pot and a copy of the Bible and nothing else. We're finding that this ground movement, a revival, is happening in small spaces in ways that we don't tend to naturally gravitate to because we want to overcomplicate it with plans and purpose statements.

And, you know, we get a little lost in whether or not to have tablecloths with polka dots. But I think what we're seeing in the military community is absolutely stunning. And this should be the way all of us do it is one cup of coffee at a time in our homes using what God has given us for his glory and our good. Chris Before we take a break here, Jessica, is there a story that comes to your mind about military spouses and something that will be really encouraging to our listeners here today about the ways that God is moving among military spouses? What comes to your mind? Jessica My grandmother passed away in 2019, and it was one of the hardest seasons that I've ever had to walk through. But in the midst of that, I had some military spouses wrapping their arms around me and encouraging me to serve. And what a beautiful way to honor my grandmother's memory because she really was, you know, a true servant. And so we, you know, entered into this project.

It was very, very hard to navigate. And then as soon as the project was over, I had to say goodbye to my grandmother and bury her, but it was full circle. And so I would encourage people in that we're going to walk through really hard seasons. There are going to be moments where you don't think you can stand. But those friends, those military spouses will hold you up and bring you through the other side.

And so that's where I would encourage. Yes, been through it, you know, cried when I didn't think I could cry anymore. But I wouldn't be anywhere that I am today without my friends.

I mean, Megan is proof of that. I wouldn't be talking to you today without her. One of the things that I absolutely love about military friendships, it's not about how long you've known someone, but how deep the relationship goes from the beginning. Jessica and I met in 2019 really closely after the story she's sharing. We met in Washington, D.C., at the Armed Forces Insurance Military Spouse of the Year Awards. And Jessica has always had a heart for kindness, wanting to make sure that we are creating a culture of kindness around us in our space and in our space that pours out of our space. And that year she launched, you know, the hashtag Giving Tuesday military movement. And it was in that project that the two of us actually started building our friendship.

I was interviewing her for a freelance piece in one of our military publications, and I think we lost like three hours on that Zoom. And I think we looked at each other at the end of that interview and we said, did we just become best friends? And I think we did, because we have not been separate since. And it has been so encouraging to see what the Lord does when He orchestrates relationships together with His glory in mind, but for the good of others. I think that He gives us this grace and friendship that we have these shared sacrifices and these shared sufferings. But also because of those things, we have learned to love quickly and to love deeply because we're not guaranteed tomorrow.

And I think that gives us the ability to live a little fuller, don't you think? Thanks for joining us today for Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman. Find us online at You'll find two featured resources today, the books by Megan Brown and Jessica Manfrey. Jessica's book is titled Never Alone, and Megan's is Know What You Signed Up For.

And you can find out more at Jessica, in our last session, Megan mentioned the hashtag Giving Tuesday Military, your initiative that really captured national media attention. But for our listeners, tell us what that was all about.

Yeah, no, absolutely. So earlier, you know, I referenced my grandmother passing away and that project. Well, that project was renovating a home of a Coast Guardsman whose wife was terminal with cancer.

And the story was just so powerful and it impacted me so much. You know, seeing 50, 60 Coast Guardsmen show up every day to serve this man that many of whom didn't know because the base there was so massive that I shared it with Global Giving Tuesday and the communications director reached back out to me and said, have you thought about running a campaign for the military? And I turned to my two friends, Samantha Gamocha and Maria Reed, and I was like, how are we going to do this? And I said, I don't want to raise money, right? We were just three military spouses.

We don't have a nonprofit. What are we going to base this on? And it just came to me, kindness. You know, we can serve all over this globe because we are all over this globe. Let's challenge our entire military community to one million acts of kindness.

That is where we see a ripple of impact. And so we fired, I mean, literally within two weeks, we had a website, we started reaching out to people. And the next thing I know, I'm on Kelly Clarkson. We're on the Today Show.

And it was bananas. But it little spark, um, serving, you know, in any capacity whatsoever, when you give of yourself, you know, those happy, uh, hormones, you know, go through your body, it uplifts you. Why not make this an all the time thing? And so, you know, here we are, 2023 will be our fifth Giving Tuesday military and it has, kindness has radically changed my life. Well, what are some of the kind of things that, uh, that, that you heard about the people doing in response to that?

It could be really small things. It can be, you know, a lot of our, our ambassadors are organizing blood drives, you know, donating blood saves three lives. They are knitting sweaters and clothing for foster children overseas. I had this beautiful picture of a soldier, a female soldier knitting, and then he was sending them back. It is partnering with, you know, organizations that are serving veterans in hospice and writing them letters, letting them know how grateful you are that they wore the uniform of service. For me, I have a heart for our homeless.

It just, it, it breaks me. There was a point in my life where I could have been homeless because my mother was a single mother. I was just lucky enough to have family that took us in.

So we weren't. And so it's organizing drives. You know, it doesn't have to be this massive undertaking when we come together. I mean, just getting your, your local neighborhood involved and having each home, you know, donate goods, donate socks can turn into something radically like empowering. So those are, those are some of my favorites.

There are many and kindness looks different depending on the area. You know, what works where I'm at now may not work over in Japan. And so I always love seeing what our ambassadors come up with because it's pretty extraordinary. Yeah, that's super exciting. I know that our listeners, and I'm hoping that our listeners will think, Ooh, man, that's something I could be involved in. It's great to hear that the military is involved in it.

You know, that's, that's absolutely amazing. Let's talk a little bit about the church and the military. What's at stake do you think for the local church, Megan? Uh, for the military community, if, if we don't learn how to build relationships between local churches and military?

You know, one of the things that I think is constantly at stake is that we are missing out on opportunities to be missional. What my hope for the local church would be is that they would see themselves as one of the greatest avenues for world and global missions. When there's a military community member in your congregation and you can receive them serve them, you get the privilege of sending them, you know, at our local church, when we have military community members that are moving, we bring them to the front of the congregation and we pray and we commend them into the service of the Lord. And we charge them to carry the gospel and we send them to their next location on mission for King Jesus. And I think that if the local church could see the potential that they have to reach the globe with the good news of Jesus, simply because they have someone who serves in their congregation, we could see such a landscape change in the kingdom of heaven if we could focus on serving those who are already serving and, and inviting those who already live on mission to be on mission for Jesus. I was just thinking out loud here, you know, we support missionaries and raise money to pay salaries and all of that, but military couples, their salaries already paid, we don't have to raise more money to send them, they're going to be sent, you know, but it's giving them the vision and the church affirming them and praying for them that brings that together, right?

Amen, amen. And that's really why we started Milskoko, because while the husbands are sent on mission and they engage with other global military communities all over the world, military spouses also can be sent as professional, prepared, vocational missionaries, building communities that are catching families and funneling them into the local church. So that's what we do. We recruit, train, and release military spouses as missionaries. We show them how to support raise so that instead of sending them to Southeast Asia or to Africa, we send them five miles up the road to the local installation to do the same thing they would do overseas, to share their testimony, to meet needs, and to bring these families into a long-lasting, eternal relationship with the Lord.

Yeah. What kind of response have you seen from local churches where you all have been able to work with leadership there? If we're really transparent, it's sort of been hit or miss. We've had a handful of churches, like the one we're in now. Shout out Back Bay Church, Ocean Springs, Mississippi. Our senior pastor loves the military community, and even though he has no connectivity with it personally, other than the fact that his church is in a high-concentrated military area, he has really done the work of trying to understand and help others in the military and help mobilize us.

We could be the largest mobilized and missional force this world has ever seen. Then on the other side, we've had local church leaders that have said, wow, that's really exciting. We'll be praying for you with no real offer of partnership or collaboration. In some circles, we kind of call the local church the sleeping giant. If the local church could see our potential, we used to beg and say, man, do you understand?

Do you get it? Do you see what's happening to us in this space? Do you see our potential? We've asked a better question now. Instead of asking local church leaders to get our lifestyle, we've asked them to believe us that it's possible that we could see the Great Commission fulfilled in our day, that the Third Great Awakening could come from the military community. And so I guess what I could say is that some believe us and some do not. But we are praying for the local church to believe us. Well, it's a powerful challenge to the local church and especially churches that are somewhere near military bases all across the country and around the world. But I do think that sometimes those churches don't have that vision.

And what you guys are doing, I think, hopefully is going to stimulate more of that. Let's talk a little bit about churches that are not near military bases and consequently would not have a lot of military people that might interface with their members. Is there anything they can do or how can they be a positive impact on the military? Oh, man, our first task would be to pray. Pray that the gospel can travel through our community in and through the lives of the men and women in uniform, their dependents, their children, but also to support through prayer and giving to some of the missions that specifically reach maybe they have a connectivity with crew military or Cadence International or the Navigators. Maybe they have a passion for women's ministry and they want to support missions like Mills Boco, Planting Roots, Military Ministry Network. You know, we're here in D.C. with the Fellowship of Military Ministries and getting to celebrate all that God is doing.

And we're seeing that God has been in fierce pursuit and he is mobilizing these amazing ministries to reach his children for the kingdom. And if there are churches out there that are nowhere near a military installation, start looking up missions that are specifically focused on the military community and in the same way you would support a foreign missionary, support a military missionary, support missions that support us, help us get the gospel to those who are looking for answers, who are experiencing hard things and are far from the Lord because they need him. We're honoring military families today on Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman. If you go to, you'll see two resources. Megan Brown's book, Know What You Signed Up For, How to Follow Jesus, Love People and Live on Mission as a Military Spouse, and Jessica Manfree's book, Never Alone, Ruth, the Modern Military Spouse and the God Who Goes With Us.

Just go to Jessica, we talked about this a bit earlier, and that is the efforts of the Giving Tuesday military thing. But we also talked earlier about military isolation, the feeling of isolation on the part of military spouses and sometimes mental health issues as well. You really believe that loving kindness, that is having an attitude of love and expressing it in kindness, can be a tool to help military families combat isolation and poor mental health, right?

Absolutely. You know, I think the whole world saw a touch of isolation, you know, with the pandemic and the shutdown. But that is sadly a life that many of us have been living for a really long time.

It takes enough effort just to move every couple of years, you know, restarting the school, the things, and it is just a lot. And so for me, I truly believe that loving kindness from our neighbors, from our community can radically change our entire experience. We could be in the worst pit of a pit, but having someone be kind to us, I mean, I don't know about you, but when someone opens the door and says good morning, I light up like a Christmas tree. It is exciting, you know, and just small things like that, those connections. I think, you know, my grandmother always used to say it takes a village. We've all heard it between raising kids, you know, life. I think we've lost our village and I think we can find it again with loving kindness.

We need to reconnect. Yeah. It often starts with just acknowledging the person and beginning a conversation, right? Rather than just passing each other and not even acknowledging that we just passed by a human, you know? Yes, exactly. Absolutely.

Boy, we desperately need that. Megan, you talked about the military living on mission for Jesus. How does someone in the military begin to live on mission for Jesus, and what can you and I and others do to help them have that vision? You know, really the core of the book was to introduce the gospel. You know, Know What You Signed Up For is meant to be an outreach tool for churches that are looking for ways to connect with their military congregations or the demographics around them.

But really, the three things that we talk about a lot is that knowing Jesus means being in relationship with Jesus. We want our community to begin living in a redemptive wellspring of refreshment in Christ Jesus, and then we want them to be part of what he's doing in a local body. We want military families to be received, to be served, and then to be sent in the local church.

And then it means to dedicate, you know, all of the things that you know how to do your job, your skills, your time, your talent towards the Great Commission. And so what it looks like for military members to start living on mission is to realize that God uses all of these things, our jobs, our connections, our relationships, our past, our pains. You know, if you look back at the things that the Lord will use to reach others, sometimes he uses things we wouldn't. And knowing that, you know, God is calling all of us as his children to go and make disciples. I think the big thing when it comes to evangelism in the military space is that so many times we're so blindsided by the nature of military life that we forget that God has called us all to the same purpose. I think today, specifically in women's ministry, there's this, I call it the almighty pursuit of purpose.

Women are running around trying to figure out what their purpose is. And one of the core things I say to women all the time is that as a believer, God gave us all the same purpose, which is the Great Commission. He calls us to go and make disciples.

But we do that in our own context. I am a military spouse, so I make disciples in military spaces. I have children. I make disciples in, you know, I have teenagers.

Guys, pray for me. You know, I make disciples where the teenagers are, which is usually in my kitchen. You know, we make disciples in our context.

We don't need to overcomplicate it. We disciple with our spouses or sometimes we disciple to our spouses. We disciple to our neighbors.

When we look at, you know, I was listening to Gary Sanders. He runs the Military Missions Network, and he was talking about that Acts 1-8 strategy in Jerusalem, in Judea, in Samaria, to the ends of the earth, that Acts 1-8 strategy as a military member, that for me, that means I'm doing discipleship in my community where I live, on the outskirts of where I live, to places I wouldn't normally go, and then to the ends of the earth. I mean, when we think about that Acts 1-8 strategy of discipleship, it really does change our perspective of what we can do in and through the military community. Meghan, I would like for you and Jessica individually to share with us about your particular book. Meghan, we'll start with you. Who do you hope will read this book? And secondly, what do you hope that book is going to do in them and for them? You know, first and foremost, this book was written for women in our community, the young mom who is struggling with loneliness and what some nurse called the quote-unquote baby blues, who can't figure out what this life looks like and if it's always going to be this hard. You know, for the woman who quote-unquote has it all together and is running the volunteer opportunities, the spouse's club has found ways to checklist her way through this life. And then for the women like me who have been around a moment and we've seen the brokenness, we've seen the struggle, we've endured it long. This book was for them, but ultimately this book is also for the church and the families of these women to get a glimpse behind the curtain to see what it actually is like to know that we paid costs higher than we counted for and that we can look back through the halls of our histories and we can see all of the places that this life has cost us something we wanted, whether that was a job, a community, whether it was a relationship, whether it was our own identity. You know, we want the communities around us to see that we've given much and that we need, you know, kindness and compassion and care. My hope is that this book will be a beacon of light for military spouses who are asking, is this all there is?

What is this for? And can I offer anything meaningful to the Lord while I am barely surviving? You know, the book answers that as a resounding yes, we can give him everything.

Yeah. Jessica, share the same thing with your book. What is it? Who's the audience? Who do you hope is going to read this book and what do you hope it's going to communicate and how is it going to help them? When I wrote Never Alone, you know, I intended it to be specifically for military and veteran spouses, that I wanted to reach them. But as I was going through it, I realized there's so much shared experience in this. In my introduction, I hope that whoever picks up that book maybe isn't connected to the military and this will give a window into this life, but also that you will see how much shared love, hardship and connecting back together that we all really have. You know, I am not a biblical scholar, but I love the story of Ruth and sometimes I think it's overlooked. And so I thought it was such a beautiful way to unpack my favorite story and make it resonate in a way that really connects with people and brings them back to the table. You know, faith is absent in a lot, unfortunately, of our home in this day and age. And I guess it's my goal to not only unpack a really hard topic like loneliness and have people understand it in a way that's digestible, but to bring them back to faith. You know, we joke all the time, you know, with our books, Meghan and I, I mean, she can exposit like no one else. I'm like, let's go to church, Meghan. But I joke that I ease people to the table.

I'm pulling them up. I am your friend. I'm your therapist. I've been there. Me too. And by the way, God is good.

By the way, you are not alone. And then Meghan can sit down with that Bible and just bring it home. We're like cheek to cheek right now, and I'm listening to her, and I hear her all the time, and I'm like, yes, yes. So that's what I hope. I hope that, you know, number one, I want this book to save lives because I truly believe loneliness kills. I want to bring more people back into faith, and I want everyone to have a glimpse that we are so much better together. Amen. Well, my hope is that the folks who are listening to this program will get each of these books, read them themselves, and then think about to whom might I give a copy of this book.

And in some cases, it might even be the pastor of your church, just something that God would use you in his life. I just thank you for being with us today. I thank you for investing the time to write these books, and I thank you for what you're doing in the military, and your spouses, and all those who are serving. I think there are many of our listeners today who really haven't thought much about the military.

We know they're there, we're glad they're there, but in terms of the spiritual dimension of the military, and being an instrument in bringing the Great Commission to reality, I think there are many Christians that haven't thought about that. And I think what you've said today and what you're saying in these books are going to help some folks do that. So again, thank you for being with us today. Thank you so much for having us. This is amazing.

Yes, we have loved every moment of it. Thank you so much. And here are the titles. Megan Brown's book, Know What You Signed Up For, How to Follow Jesus, Love People, and Live on Mission as a Military Spouse, and Jessica Manfree's book, Never Alone, Ruth, The Modern Military Spouse, and The God Who Goes With Us. Find out more at And next week, we open the lines for your questions about marriage, parenting, and single living. Don't miss our May edition of Dear Gary in One Week. Well, a big thank you to our production team, Steve Wick and Janice Backing. Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman is a production of Moody Radio in Chicago, in association with Moody Publishers, a ministry of Moody Bible Institute. Thanks for listening.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-20 04:42:20 / 2023-05-20 05:01:24 / 19

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