They are the most magnificent of men. Legitimate heroes of the wars in the Middle East with the medals and scars to prove it. They are gathered in the afternoon in a round tent to discuss how the latest Fight Club has gone for the men they are called to serve. Each instructor takes his turn in the chair placed in the middle of the room and is subjected to a review by his peers on the quality of the presentation. The classes they teach are on topics such as forgiveness, legacy, honor, brotherhood, faith and family designed to develop men of authentic character and leadership. Even before I sat down I realized I was the only man in the room who had never served his country in uniform.
I recall the scripture that has given me comfort in times like these, David asking “Who am I, Oh Lord God… that you, have brought me this far?”
As each man takes his turn he looks to each of his brothers in arms, signaling it is their turn to speak. I sit at the end of the circle, and wonder if I will be included. Then the first man turns to me and I offer words of encouragement, praise for a job well done. Each man thereafter allows me to speak and I feel accepted into a fraternity of men that I fear I am unworthy of knowing.
The last man to take the seat is new to being an instructor. If I had seen him on the street, I would have assumed he played in the NFL, at least six foot four, and two hundred and fifty pounds of sculpted muscle. He sits humbly listening to the critique of his peers, which is filled with words of encouragement, wisdom and even affection. I know some of his story, as Corporal in the Marine Corps Infantry; he was at Ramadi when the Corps suffered some of its worst losses in Iraq. Honorably discharged, he floundered; suffering from Post Traumatic Stress he fell into the trap of addiction. Chad, the founder of Mighty Oaks Warrior Programs, is the last to speak to him. “When I met you, you were a homeless drug addict living in your car, you had abandoned your kids. Now you are a redeemed, amazing man, investing in the lives of other men!” Chad stands up and so does the Corporal. They hug each other like bears, the Corporal dwarfing the smaller Chad.
I am overcome with the emotion of the moment, tears roll down my cheeks as I fear losing what little masculinity I might have left, until I look around the circle and realize I am not alone. Tears of joy have touched us all. We are all once again redeemed together, unafraid to show the love of Christ in our lives.
Phil Dunn – President, Serving California