10 Nov November 10, 2017 – The Armor Bearer
Dear Praying Friends
“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” ~John 15:13
Thank you for your concern and help with Armed Forces Baptist Missions. The Lord used your faithfulness, prayers and support to help reach our military, veterans, and their families. The last couple months have been productive for our shared ministry. We are working with two new families as well as continuing to see growth with those missionaries on deputation.
This month we wanted to share our report from the PTSD Ministry. The following report is from a missions trip following the horrific events in Las Vegas. It’s a micro look into what five of our missionary families do on a daily basis.
As you know, on October 1, 2017, a domestic terrorist with a well-organized and scripted plan fired a rifle for over eleven minutes into a Route 91 Harvest Festival crowd starting about 350 yards away. The toll was horrific with fifty-nine people killed and another four hundred eighty-nine injured. The attack occurred while Debbie and I were in Deering, New Hampshire teaching a PTSD workshop at the Wilds of New England Christian Camp. Like many of you the “news pushes” on my cell phone began lighting up my phone immediately. The Lord would not allow me to sleep and I spent most of the night praying for the victims and their families.
The next night for me was more of the same, prayers and seeking the Lord’s face. The Lord made it clear we should go to Las Vegas after we received two emails from authorities that had read our book, “Wounded Spirits: A Biblical Approach to Dealing with the Effects of PTSD”. They asked if there was anyway we could help in Las Vegas. I called Paul Phelps, an AFBM Missionary and trained PTSD Instructor. Like Debbie and I, the Lord had been dealing with he and his dear wife Sarah. They too were burdened for the mission. After another day of prayer we felt confident the mission was of the Lord and asked all of you for your prayers and also support if the Lord would lead you to give.
We quickly designed Bible covers honoring First Responders. Grace Baptist Church in Lee’s Summit, MO committed to buying and assembling one hundred fifty Bibles and shipping them to Las Vegas. We added two hundred Heroes Bibles (military covers) and shipped them. In the mean time, we ordered two hundred PTSD books and had them shipped. We felt that placing the Lord’s Word into the hands of the heroes who ran toward the bullets was essential.
During conference calls we developed a plan that we believed would bring honor to the Lord and be the best possible approach for the mission. After making contact with three local pastors to work with, our next thought was that we should stay in the Mandalay Bay Hotel where the shooter stayed. We thought they would be hurting and that the Lord’s Word and plan for their lives is exactly what they needed. Last Saturday, we landed around 1:00 PM local time. Prior to arriving at the hotel, we passed the site where fifty-eight hasty memorials were placed. Honestly, it was a stark reminder of what sin can do to a community. Immediately, we could see the signs and police cars blocking off the park where the Harvest Festival was held. At the hotel there was a huge presence of security. The floor the terrorist used was closed off as the police continued to investigate. Security was on edge checking room keys and ID cards. Within a couple hours we had met a young lady whose brother, a hotel security guard, had been shot. It was awesome to speak with her and lead her to our classes online. Over the next few days we spoke with many of their security force and managers. We gave them books and Bibles and offered hope in the form of an awesome Savior. Not one person at the hotel refused a Bible or book. They were an encouragement to us.
We were focused on the veterans in the community, many of whom suffer from PTSD. The events of October 1st triggered emotions and feelings sending many back to a bad place of flashbacks, nightmares, and in some cases physical illness. Prior to traveling, we made an appointment to meet with a Veteran’s Affairs (VA) chaplain. It was our first appointment of the week. Upon arriving, another chaplain joined in the meeting and seemed fixed on obstructing the Lord’s work. At one point as Brother Phelps spoke, I began to pray. At the same time I received a text from a pastor friend saying he was praying for us. All of sudden the other chaplain began to calm down and allow us to present the Bibles and books. A few minutes later the Lord opened a door to the downtown Veterans’ Center. The meeting at the VA was productive and God honoring. We led them to the online classes and left Bibles for them to pass out. They offered help with advertising for future classes and seemed genuinely concerned for our veterans. The meeting culminated with an open door to the downtown Veterans’ Center. We were able to distribute Bibles and set up future meetings at the Veterans’ Center.
Nellis Air Force Base is located right outside of Las Vegas. We visited the Base Chaplain, briefing him on the Wounded Spirits classes and leaving books and Bibles. He was interested and even mentioned he would order more books as needed. While on base we were able to share the Gospel with a high ranking official who accepted Jesus as his Lord. It was refreshing to see him wanting Bibles for his family and friends so they too could come to know the Lord. We were able to immediately set him up with a church and pastor. If he had been the only visit we had made it would have been a complete success. I have followed up with him about church and his walk and he attended on Sunday.
The Las Vegas Police Department is among the largest in the country. They have a force of twenty-seven hundred policemen protecting seven hundred thousand permanent residents and two and a half million visitors at any given time. Their job is huge and almost impossible. Can you imagine trying to police more than two thousand tourists per shift? We were prayerfully committed to visiting every police station in Las Vegas. The Lord was gracious opening doors and hearts for our visits. Everyone received us like family and not one officer treated us with anything but respect. Unknown to us, the Lord had gone ahead of us with a mention of our ministry and the Wounded Spirits book on the local news. Surprising as it was, we were so thankful for the plug. Rarely did we visit a Police Station where someone did not mention they knew who we were and why we were there. We passed out Bibles and books and made fast friends. We were able to meet with four chaplains for the LVPD and another dozen or so that worked with the people. The police said they had received booklets and tracts but no one had ever sent Bibles, books and people to counsel with them. We told them about all of you who gave sacrificially for our visit. They appreciated your generosity. We gave them a vow that we would not share pictures or names of those making decisions. We will say at least one officer was saved and we have heard from several others taken the online course. On our last evening we were invited to the headquarters for a special recognition vigil and a time of prayer. It proved to be an awesome time to meet people and we received a commitment to allow training in the future at their headquarters. We left with what we hope are lifelong friends and ministry associates.
We met with a particularly captive audience at the fire department. We were able to visit the two stations that responded immediately to the attack. The Lord allowed them to be at the stations without any calls. One station gave us a VIP tour. We left them with the hope of the Lord along with Bibles and books. These men dodged bullets without guns to save lives. We were moved at how young and heroic they were.
The University Medical Center is the only level one trauma center in Nevada. We were cautioned that they were not receiving visitors of any type. These precious professionals had worked for over forty-two hours straight on the night of the attack. We prayed all week that the Lord would open a door and He did. We were able to leave the remainder of the books for the surgeons and staff but sadly were over three hundred short. We are praying for the Lord to provide the remainder of the books so we can ship them to our point of contact.
As you can imagine we have multiple future opportunities in Las Vegas to teach a full PTSD class. We feel a class for those suffering for PTSD and to train instructors is the next mission the Lord has given us. Please join us for the following prayer requests:
- For the Lord to use the Bibles, books and the seeds planted to save people.
- For the Lord to bless those who gave to the mission.
- For an additional 350 books for the University Medical Center trauma staff.
- For 1000 books requested from the Police and Fire departments.
- For 1000 more Bibles to pass out to Police and Fire Departments
- For additional funds to run a training session for the Police, Fire Department and community in Las Vegas. The Lord has already graciously provided for the plane tickets.
Again, thank you for your faithfulness and love. The Lord is using your example to touch our hearts and help us grow. You are heroes to us!
On behalf of our Operation Las Vegas Team,
Doug Carragher, Th.D.
General Director, AFBM
Founder and Author, Wounded Spirits
Las Vegas Team:
Paul Phelps II