Maria lay in bed with her armor on, earbuds in, and the volume turned up on her Messenger audio player. The small military outpost in the Afghan desert could be bombed at any moment, but she was just too exhausted to move to the shelter. She’d been working non-stop to save wounded soldiers, and she needed a second wind of both physical and spiritual strength to keep going. So she listened, drawing life from the Word of God.
When Maria took on a contract military job as a medic in 2011, she knew she was signing up for a “new normal” characterized by risk and discomfort. But the reality of war was more intense than she had expected. In the midst of the chaos, though, Maria knew she wasn’t alone. “The Messenger was physical evidence that Jesus was at my side,” she recalls. “In the harshness of war and the loneliness and isolation of Afghanistan, I needed [that human voice] reminding me that God was with me at all times.”
Maria returned home a year later, and the full weight of her war experiences finally caught up to her. Her church was supportive, and she still turned to her Messenger for wisdom and encouragement. The Messenger was an integral part of her life. That is, until she heard that her friend Pat was fighting cancer.
Maria gave away her much-loved Messenger, hoping that it would bring comfort to Pat but not realizing that it would be Pat’s husband Richard who needed it most. Later, Richard told Maria how listening to the sermons and Scripture built up his faith during those long, anxious hours at the hospital as his wife battled for her life. “It was a godsend,” he said when he returned the audio device after Pat’s cancer finally went into remission.
Maria hadn’t expected to get the battered Messenger back, but it again became a trusted friend when the unthinkable happened.
Jeff with his grandmother(Maria’s mother).
On June 10, 2013, Maria’s son Jeff was killed in a motorcycle accident. During her darkest season of sorrow, she often soaked in the Messenger’s words of life for hours at night until she fell asleep. “Satan’s attacks can make it difficult to go on,” Maria admits. And in the darkness of grief, we can be tempted to believe that hope and healing will never come and that maybe God isn’t good after all. But with God, that is never where our stories end.
Today, Maria still turns to the Messenger to feed her mind with truth.
She is reminded daily that God is committed to the redemption of this fallen world. Out of love, He carried our grief and bore our sorrows. He understands our suffering and is able to heal our wounds and restore us.
Even as she heals, Maria is still committed to living out God’s calling on her life—to serve others and be the healing hands and feet of Jesus to those in need. “I’ve applied to return to Afghanistan or Africa, and I’ll take the Messenger again,” she says. “And I’ll listen for God’s voice to direct me to the next person in need of a Messenger.”
The power of a Messenger passed on to a friend is the power of God to transform a life. Through your partnership, people are experiencing the love of Jesus Christ and finding comfort in their times of need. Thank you.