Letters from the Front Lines
U.S. Military members share how God's Word is changing their lives.
"How has God's Word impacted your life?"
As Army Specialist Miranda Smith* pondered that question printed in the back of her camouflage Bible, memories from Basic Combat Training (BCT) swam into her memory. She would never forget those grueling days and nights on the plains of Oklahoma.
Miranda picked up a pen and began writing on the postcard tucked into the back of her Bible. "[This Bible] helped me stay connected to God during BCT at Fort Sill," Miranda wrote. "It helped me meditate on the words of God daily; mostly in the evening. It helped me remain strong and not quit."
When Miranda had finished writing, she tore the postcard from her Bible. And like thousands of U.S. service members had done before her, Miranda mailed the postcard to American Bible Society.
An Opportunity Like No Other
American Bible Society's financial partners provide free Scripture resources to U.S. Military service members, such as Miranda.
The only request? Share a story. A self-addressed postcard in each Bible asks recipients to share how God's Word has changed their lives. The thousands of mailed responses are full of stories describing God's life-changing provision for the men and women serving our country.
"We have an opportunity to put God's Word into the hands of someone facing a pivotal and emotionally trying moment in their life," says Armed Services Ministry Manager David Keller. As a chaplain in the U.S. Army Reserves, Keller knows firsthand that the Bible is a crucial lifeline for men and women during challenging days.
"The Bible provides a breath of fresh air—the hope that people will cling to during difficult times," Keller says. For Keller and his team, postcards from U.S. troops help illustrate how this hope is making a difference in people's lives.
Radical Life Change
Project Manager Anne LoCastro is among the first to receive handwritten testimonies from U.S. service members. "When I receive them, it reminds me of the scene from 'Miracle on 34th Street' when they dump out a bag full of letters in front of Santa," says LoCastro.
LoCastro says that some stories stick with her. "One man had not spoken to his father for years," she says. "Now he is reconciled to his father after reading through God's Word."
That's one of the most common themes in the postcards from U.S. service members: God's Word inspires radical life change.
"This [Bible] saved my life," writes a female member of the Army. "I learned that God is real and always there for me."
"I asked God to take away my heart of stone and give me a heart of flesh," writes a member of the Air Force.
LoCastro says that while spiritual darkness is prevalent in the military, Scripture resources provided by American Bible Society's financial partners help military chaplains share the light of God's Word when troops come to them for answers.
"Chaplains are very appreciative of these resources to help them, because it's a spiritual battle," LoCastro says.
"I asked God to take away my heart of stone and give me a heart of flesh."
- MEMBER OF THE U.S. AIR FORCE
Walking with God
But the postcards from U.S. troops make it clear: the battle belongs to the Lord. Countless men and women have shared how the Bible helped them break free from addictions to alcohol, drugs and pornography.
Many postcards reveal how God's Word inspires U.S. troops to devote themselves to daily Christian practices, such as studying the Bible, praying and attending church.
"I am reading the Bible every night and whenever I have my free time," writes one soldier in the Army. He cites Joshua 1:8 (GNT) as his inspiration for spending more time in God's Word: "Be sure that the book of the Law is always read in your worship. Study it day and night, and make sure that you obey everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful."
Reading the Bible on their own inspires some troops to share God's Word with their fellow service members. "I've started an almost nightly Bible study here at boot camp," writes a female Marine.
Even service members who grew up in the church have found that God's Word breathes fresh life into familiar Christian practices.
"I have always been an active churchgoer," says one soldier. "But this [Bible] has made me live through Christ rather than just go through the motions."
Relationships Made New
And as service members renew their relationship with God, their relationships with friends and family blossom as well. Husbands say they love their wives more deeply. Friends share that they care for each other more intentionally. Parents report that they're reading the Bible with their children more frequently.
"Every one of these cards is someone's life story," Keller says. "It's someone's journey with God that they're sharing with you."
If you were to thumb through a stack of American Bible Society's postcards from U.S. troops, you would find that each testimony is as unique as the person who sent it:
"Reading has taught me to treat others and myself with respect."
"When they leave, we rest assured that they take God's Word home with them."
- DAVID KELLER, ARMED SERVICES MINISTRY MANAGER
"I stopped being a liar."
"I've forgiven my attackers."
"I started putting others before myself."
One person at a time, God's Word is changing the men and women who serve in America's Armed Forces. Keller marvels at the way these simple postcards contain firsthand accounts of divine activity.
"They become sacred spaces," Keller explains.
God Is Still Working
And while a postcard provides a snapshot of a person's spiritual journey during their military service, the Bibles from American Bible Society's financial partners help ensure that troops continue to walk with the Lord long after their military career is over.
"When they leave, we rest assured that they take God's Word home with them," Keller says. "God continues to mold them into the soldier, person, brother, sister, mom, dad or friend that they're going to be…The Bible is a big part of that."
As the Bible continues to change lives in the U.S. Armed Forces, Keller and LoCastro will wait for more inspiring stories to arrive from the front lines. And they have every reason to believe that their mailbox will be full again in no time.
"I know what the Scriptures can do," LoCastro says. "God is still working."
*Names have been changed to protect the identity of military members.
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