Written By, Robin Werling
The Montana water was cold, very cold. The young man gasped as he sat down into the icy stream as the water curled around his waist. Although he was prepared for the cold, the water still took his breath away as he leaned back into it having it splash wildly over his torso. The cold gripped his body in an icy embrace shocking his senses, causing him to sputter momentarily as his head came back out of the water. As he was pulled forward he tried to spring out of the water’s cold grip as if catapulted from the stream. His ears registered the cheers and the laughter of the joy of his companions from the week, welcomed him into God’s family. “Dead to sin and alive in Christ” rang in his still barley functioning brain! His heart rate began to slow back down to normal. He had just done one of the hardest things in his life. He had made a decision this week to bend his knee, to follow God, and to lay down his burdens at the feet of Jesus. How did this happen in just 5 short days?
Ten warriors with six cadre had descended upon the Freedom Ranch in Wise River, Montana, in early October. The men represented four of the branches of the military with a Law Enforcement Officer thrown in as well. All had come to Mighty Oaks with a common goal: to find hope in a fallen world. They all came with low expectations, and only through faith came to receive the type of healing that many had never known was possible. Our mighty God did not disappoint.
Throughout the week the men received a variety of classes on topics such as Why Men Need to Fight, Brotherhood, Character, Forgiveness, and Legacy. They met with fellow combat veterans who told of their own struggles and pointed them to the same hope which they all had found. They were given the lesson of authenticity with sometimes shockingly raw testimonials. Courage was demonstrated and was found to be contagious with the men. One by one they came to decision points that would impact their eternity. Some struggled with hurts, disappointments, guilt, shame, trauma, and the damage of broken relationships. They were continually shown the truth as defined by God and His word, the Bible. They were prayed over and with. They were shown an earthly glimpse of the love of Jesus, and they responded.
The truth is that we have all sinned and gone astray. God loves us too much though to leave us. He is the good shepherd and calls us back to Him. John tells us in John 10:27-28 that, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. 28 And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.” For those who witnessed that week in Wise River, Montana, we were blessed to see the shepherd call and the many hearts that responded.
To that young warrior, that icy dip will never be forgotten, and Jesus will never allow anyone to snatch him out of his hand.