This transcript is taken from a Stand in the Gap Today radio program originally airing on Nov. 11, 2022. To listen to the program, please click HERE.
Isaac Crockett: Well, welcome to the program. I’m Isaac Crockett and my co-host is the Honorable Sam Rohrer, the President of the American Pastors Network. And in just a little bit, we’re going to invite our guest, Jeremy Stalnecker from the Mighty Oaks Foundation. But we have a Special Friday program today because it is Veterans Day and the Mighty Oaks Foundation works with veterans, and we want to talk today about those who have served and how those of us in churches, in the Christian community, how we can serve those who have served and served our nation and protected us.
But before we invite our guest on, and before we go further with this topic, we have our program producer Tim Schneider, who often comes on and gives different information about what’s going on behind the scenes. He actually is retired from the military. And so Tim, I’d like to just invite you to talk with us here just as we open up a little bit as we’re talking about Veterans Day and serving those who have served. So Tim, if you could start off just maybe telling us the branch of the military that you were in and how long you served.
Tim Schneider: Thank you Isaac. Good afternoon to everybody. And Happy Veterans Day, and thank you to all those who have served our country. I was in the Air Force, I served for 22 years. I was in active duty for four years, and then I served the other 18 in the Air National Guard, so 22 years of total service in the Air Force, aim high.
Sam Rohrer: You aimed high and we’re glad you came back down to earth and you’re sitting here now in front of me.
Tim Schneider: Thank you.
Sam Rohrer: But let me go ahead and beyond that, you are a veteran. We’re talking about veterans today and we’re going to talk to our special guest in the next segment or two. But you’re also involved in church, Tim, in ministry on various levels, so let me just go here with this question. Do you as a believer, as a Christian who is also a veteran, have any suggestions of ways that churches or Christians individually can actually serve our veterans? Now, some of that, that’s honoring them, I know, but serving them as in the context of this program today. What do you say?
Tim Schneider: Good question. Sam and I went ahead before the program and I actually wrote down some things, but it’s likely that many of us know someone that has served or is serving, and if not, I’m sure Jeremy Stalnecker or our guest here shortly will be able to be more than happy to refer his organization Might Oaks Foundation as one to contact for serving. But ways Christians can serve, if you see someone in uniform or those that have served, take a second and please go over to them and thank them for their service. You never might realize that, but it means the world to them to go over to them and just say, “Hey, thank you for your service. We really appreciate it.” Also, if you see military members in a restaurant consider buying their meal, even do it anonymously, that way they don’t know. And I’ll tell you, that’s been a blessing to me for many years serving when we’re out in public in our uniforms and somebody comes and just says, “That person over there just,” or that they don’t even point to them but they said, “Somebody paid your meal for you.”
That’s certainly a very big blessing. Also, look for organizations in your community that serve veterans. Consider participating in Days of Remembrance, today being Veterans Day, also Memorial Day, other days through ceremonies and parades that you can attend. Take the time to honor service and remember sacrifices made, and most importantly, pray for them and other things too. If you’re a church, consider looking for ways in the community or organizations that you can serve veterans in. Care packages to those serving overseas is huge. I can tell you about many deployments that I took and how it was a blessing just to get care packages with bunch of things that we might take for granted over here, but overseas when you’re in a deployed location like I was in Kuwait once, I was in Qatar a couple of times, Middle Eastern countries where it’s a hundred and something degrees every day, and you’re doing this for six months almost every single day, 12 hour shifts in a row. You’re away from your families.
Care packages are a big thing and they certainly mean a lot. And also if you know of military members that are in your church who have deployed family members, consider seeing if there’s a way you can serve a deployed spouse. It could be a man that puts on the uniform and goes away and serves or it could be a lady, but if they’re married, it’s certainly taxing and trying on a couple that’s serving, especially if you have one of your spouses when you have to take care of the kids and you have to make sure everything gets done, all the operations of the house, that doesn’t go on deployment too. Only the individual that’s going to serve goes on deployment, so that’s certainly a big way of just serving our military by looking for a deployed spouse. So those are some things, Isaac, that I was thinking of and I will go ahead and let you continue.
Isaac Crockett: Well, Tim, thank you for those practical ideas, just really practical. Same as we wrap this first segment up and get ready to invite our guests, Jeremy to talk to us today about what they’re doing at Mighty Oaks Foundation. Tim mentioned these days of remembrance and services for the veterans, and I was just at one on Sunday in a community near me. A lot of Christians came and pastors were involved with it. There was a man there who served in World War II and in the Korean War and just really special time. But why is it special? Why do we need to recognize as a nation, as believers, as churches, why ought we to recognize what these men and women have done and honor them? And we’re going to be talking about people who have gone through difficulties and trauma as a result of it, but why is it still good to recognize what they have done for us?
Sam Rohrer: Well, Isaac, in a fundamental way, Christians or Bible believers, those who fear of God and keep his commandments, all the way through the scripture honor and showing honor is almost always connected with praying, and praying is a command that we are to do. We are to pray for all of those in positions of authority whether they’re evil or they’re righteous, we are to pray for them. We’re to pray for those who are in leadership in our homes, our fathers and the mothers, we should be praying for them. We pray for our pastors and our elders. God’s instituted areas of authority are to be honored because God established them and we are to pray for them so that they actually do what God’s purposes are. Now, our military and those who put their lives on the line, Isaac, are in the position of those of civil authority from the perspective that they are there to protect those who do well, and in the context of their position to actually wage war.
And the Bible talks about that against those which are evil, so at the end of the day, it is a carrying out of God’s larger purpose. So when we honor those who serve and we pray for them, we are actually doing what God says to do by elevating their position and helping us to think in terms of exactly why they’re there. And that all gets a part of why we teach our children and parents ought to be doing this and ought to be taught and preached in churches. This is a reflection of carrying out God’s plan so it is appropriate to honor and to pray for those who defend us and are willing to take and put their lives on the line. It’s a pattern the way God would have us, so that’s how I briefly answer it. So it’s a very appropriate thing that we’re doing here on this program.
Isaac Crockett: And so the same, based on that answer, you’re saying it’s appropriate to do this all the time, not just if ad day-
Sam Rohrer: Absolutely.
Isaac Crockett: … on the calendar says, “Oh, it’s time to do that.”
Sam Rohrer: Absolutely. It is something that is not limited to a day, a year, not at all. It should be a regular fashion. So what Tim was just talking about, when we see somebody who’s in a uniform, go right up to him and say something to them. That’s how we can do it regularly and make it a part of our life.
Isaac Crockett: Well, we want to talk about serving those who have served our nation today, and we’re going to take a brief time out, listen to some information from some of our partners and come back with Jeremy Stalnecker of the Mighty Oaks Foundation, and look about ways we can help veterans and how their foundation is helping veterans to find spiritual resiliency in the face of trauma, and there’s so much that’s packed into that, and even if you’re not a veteran, there’s so much to learn from them, and so we just have a really packed program coming up.
Isaac Crockett: We’ll be right back on Standing in the Gap. Well welcome back to the program and our guest today, Jeremy Stalnecker might be a familiar name to some of you, maybe you remember when he’s been on this program before or maybe you recognize him from the Mighty Oaks Foundations and some of the different episodes, videos and podcasts and things that he does or from our friends, David Barton and the WallBuilders or a lot of other places. You may have heard of Mighty Oaks Foundation or maybe you’ve heard Jeremy speak, and so we’re just privileged to have him. Jeremy, thanks so much for taking the time to be on this program with us, especially for Veterans Day.
Jeremy Stalneck…: Well, it’s awesome to be with you guys. I really appreciate you even taking the time to have this conversation, it’s such an important conversation, so thank you.
Isaac Crockett: Well, and we appreciate what you’re doing and how you’re helping folks, especially veterans and first responders who are dealing with trauma that they’ve gone through, with changes that they’ve gone through looking for hope, and in realizing that you’re not just going into churches and helping people who have been in church all their life, but you’re helping people find God in the face of these difficulties and find what you call spiritual resilience, and there’s just so much we want to dig into. Fortunately, you have a lot of resources because there’s no way we can cover all the stuff that you have discussed, and you put it out there for people, even folks like myself who aren’t from the military background, but things that help anybody, any family that’s going through some of this. So if I could just maybe have you start by telling us a little bit about Mighty Oaks Foundation, the website where we can find resources as well as any other resources that help folks in this way that you’re so involved with.
Jeremy Stalneck…: Yeah. Man, there’s so much there, but I’ll start with the Mighty Oaks Foundation. For those that are not familiar with us, go check out our website, mightyoaksprograms.org, everything you would ever want to know about the Might Oaks Foundation is there including a place to apply for our program. You can support our program financially if you’d like to, but as it was mentioned, we support veterans, active duty service members, first responders and spouses. Tim mentioned this in the first segment. So often the spouse is the wife who’s dealing with a husband who has either served or is serving, but often it’s the husband who’s dealing with the wife who has served or is serving, so we also support spouses. We invite them to come to our program and the core program that we have is called the Legacy Program. It’s a week-long at one of five facilities that we have across the country and we invite either men or women depending on the situation.
We have men’s programs and women’s programs to come to spend that week with us. We talk about trauma, we talk about all of the issues related to military service or service and the first responder community. And then more importantly, we spend basically the rest of our time, five days talking about how in spite of what has happened to us, the traumas, the trials, the difficulties, the stuff that we’re dealing with in our lives that may in some cases have us bound or prevent us from moving forward. When we understand that God has a plan for our life, that God has created us with purpose, that we are to have a relationship with him through Christ. When we understand that we point our life toward that we begin to move in the direction that God has established for us, our past remains, but it no longer has to have us bound.
It doesn’t keep us any longer under control, and we can move forward in a meaningful way, and so we do that. That is the core of our program, it’s called the Legacy Program. As you mentioned, some Christians certainly do attend our program. Often, it’s folks who are at the end of their road, they’ve tried everything else. We’re non clinical, we’re faith focused, so they end up with us because they have nowhere else to go, and by God’s grace we see hundreds of folks every year who accept Christ, and begin a relationship with him that is of course, a hope giving, eternity altering, freedom installing relationship with God through Christ, and we’re very, very grateful for that.
And that program, I’ll say this, is free to anyone who falls into those categories. They can apply on our website. We also cover the cost of travel, so there’s no cost other than the time that it takes that five days. Beyond the Legacy Program, we spend a lot of time traveling across the country speaking to actively military units, speaking in churches to other groups on the subject of spiritual resiliency, and we have the opportunity to do that every year. Tens of thousands of folks, we are able to stand in front of and share that message, and so that’s been amazing as well. In addition to all of that, and this is a realization we came to a few years ago, there are more than 22 million veterans in the United States, more than 20 or more than 2 million active duty service members, and then you incorporate the first responder community, more people than we could ever get into the program, so we began in a very real way producing resources.
We’ve written several books on posttraumatic stress, spiritual resiliency, other areas related to trauma. We continued to produce those books. On our website as well, there’s a place not only to apply for our program and get more information, but there’s a tab, it’s called Watch. And if you click that Watch tab, you can find hundreds of videos, testimonial videos, interviews, other videos that can serve as a resource to you or to those that you know in your life who would need that.
And then we produce regular content. I have a couple of podcasts I’m involved with. One is called the March or Die Show that is on the Salem Podcast Network called LifeAudio. It’s their podcast Network on Faith, and they deal with principles for moving forward in spite of what may have happened in our lives. And then on the other side of Salem Podcast Network, we have a show called The Situation Report that deals with issues related to culture. So we are always leaning into as many different areas as we possibly can to provide as many resources as we possibly can. So that was a really long question or answer to a very short question, but there’s an awful lot going on, and we do our best to resource as many people as possible.
Sam Rohrer: Jeremy, great job on that, and you had a lot to share and that is excellent. Let me ask you a question on that. You talked about 20 million, I think you said that are veterans, 2 million active. All right, let me just hone in a little bit more here. How many individuals are out there whether in the active or the retired that are actually potentially in need of the kind of services that you so well described?
Jeremy Stalneck…: That’s a hard question to answer, but I’ll do my best. So the number of veterans in the United States is, we’re told it’s upward of 22 million. So exactly how many we’re losing, World War II veterans, Korean War veterans, quickly we’re adding veterans all the time, so that number changes a lot, the 22 million, more than 2 million active duty service members. What we know for sure, and this is, I don’t even think these numbers are right, but I’m going to give them to you anyhow. We are told that the number of veterans who take their lives every day is more than 20 a day. Veterans, military members who have served are no longer in the military, are ending their lives every single day, more than 20 a day. Recent research would put that number at almost double, and going into those studies is, it’s difficult to parse all of that out, but because of the way the research has been done, the actual number of veterans who are taking their lives every day is probably closer to 35 or 40. We don’t know the exact number, but it’s extremely high.
On the active duty side, the Department of Defense tells us, four and a half active duty service members a day, that’s an average four and a half a day that are also ending their lives. So you take that number, and that’s an enormous number obviously, and we need to engage with that, and so that’s our starting point. From there you go to those who are dealing with relationship issues, marital issues, substance abuse issues. It’s a hard number to actually say this is the number, but it’s overwhelming. We’re told statistically that 70% of Americans, this is not just veterans, 70% of Americans have at least one time in their lives endured a clinically diagnosable traumatic event, so 70% of Americans, that’s all of us dealing with a clinically diagnosable traumatic event. If that’s the case broadly, then for those who’ve served in the military, particularly combat veterans and those in our first responders community, the number is extremely high. So I can’t give you an exact number, but it is pandemic level, particularly as it relates to suicide.
Isaac Crockett: And Jeremy, you have been in the front lines, you’ve been in these combat zones as a marine in Iraq, and you’ve also seen the difficulties of adjusting back to, quote, unquote, “normal life,” civilian life, going from combat duty marine to being a pastor, and you’ve seen all these things, but the average person… Something in our culture, trauma was just a physical thing and somebody might be shell shocked or something. They’re starting to catch on about the brain and the post traumatic stress and things, but now you’re talking about the spiritual side of it, about spiritual resiliency. We don’t have a lot of time left in this segment, but could you at least get us started in talking about the importance of that spiritual resiliency side of what we go through when we’ve experienced the trauma?
Jeremy Stalneck…: Sure. Quickly, when we talk about trauma, we are talking about a soul wound, and again, we could go pretty deep into that and talk about what that means. There’s a physical component, certainly there’s something organic related to post-traumatic stress disorder, but it affects our identity. It affects our outlook and our understanding of the world. So to be spiritually resilient, we have to have a point of aim so that when we get knocked down, we have something to realign to or recalibrate to. That’s what it means just generally to be resilient.
But when we talk about spiritual resiliency, it’s understanding this is the starting point, that’s the target. I’m going to endure trauma, difficulties and trial in my life that are going to knock me off course. And when that happens, I’ve already made a decision, I’ve already determined the aim or the end point, what I’m going for so I can bounce back or recalibrate to that, and there are a lot of tools that can help us get to that, but that’s what we are lacking so often in this area of spiritual resiliency. We have not determined the goal which is a relationship with God and walking in line with what he’s created us to do, and so when we get knocked off course, we have no idea where to go back to.
Isaac Crockett: That is so interesting because I think some people maybe scratch their heads, and you’re talking about, we’re faith-based and not clinical. Well, what place does faith-based have to do with mental health here? But what you’re talking about is we are whole people. God created us whole. We’re going to talk so much more about this in this next segment here, but it is important, and I think that anybody listening, even those who wouldn’t even profess to be Christians, they have to recognize that you have to deal with the whole person. As Christians, we know how important the soul is. We know how important the spiritual component is, so yes, there’s physical parts that need to be taken care of and trauma. Yes, there’s the mental parts and the brain parts, physiological, but there’s the spiritual component that you all are finding is, perhaps, I believe that the most important part of it all really and you’re doing that there at Mighty Oaks Foundation. Well, we’re going to take this quick break. After this time out, we’re going to come back and talk with Jeremy Stalnecker about bringing hope to those who feel like giving up.
Isaac Crockett: Welcome back to the program, and today Sam and I have the pleasure of talking with Jeremy Stalnecker of the Mighty Oaks Foundation. And if you’re just now joining the program halfway through, we’ve been talking about spiritual resilience. We’ve been talking about how we as Christians can serve those who have served our nation by protecting us, by enforcing the laws of the land, by going out in the military, and so on. This Veteran’s Day, I can’t think of a more appropriate topic than to get into this, and there’s just so much that has already been said. But at the Mighty Oaks Foundation, they really believe in the spiritual component of what people go through and especially for veterans and first responders, but they have resources out there that everybody can use who’s been through trauma.
And as Jeremy mentioned, the vast majority of families in America have gone through trauma or are going through something traumatic, and if you yourself haven’t been through something that could be clinically diagnosed as a traumatic event, somebody very close to you has, and so it touches every one of our lives and there are biblical answers. You can’t just say, “Oh well, it’s trauma. The Bible doesn’t have anything to say about it.” No, the Bible does have something to say about it in the spiritual part, the spiritual resilience is extremely important, and so that’s what we’ve been talking about. If you want to hear the whole program, you can always go online or to your favorite podcast and listen to this on demand, the entire program. But Jeremy, thanks so much for being with us.
And I’ll just go right into these questions here. You deal with a lot of folks who have dealt with trauma obviously, and a lot of what we now call PTSD, the post-traumatic stress disorder or description of the stress that they’ve gone through. And some people feel like giving up, they feel broken. You said before, they’ve tried the clinical and things, but they haven’t found the faith part, the spiritual part, and so I’m just curious, how do you use biblical truth to show a veteran that has PTSD that the Bible gives us hope even with the situation that they’re facing.
Jeremy Stalneck…: So I’ll begin with this because we talked about the difference between clinical and spiritual, and you mentioned at the end of the last segment that we need to look at our lives holistically. It’s a whole and we need to understand that, and certainly that’s true. This is not to pit one against the other, and I think some Christians fall into this trap where it’s one or the other and it’s not that, but it is acknowledging that we are spiritual and that the foundation for everything has to be a spiritual foundation. So if our foundation is not correct, then we can try therapies, we can try the clinical approaches, we can use medication, we can do all those things, but they don’t answer the question. They don’t heal a broken soul. Only a relationship with God can do that, so we begin with the right foundation and then we can add to that.
And the way I explain it often is, those in the clinical world would say we need to start with the clinical, that could, again, be medication, therapies, whatever the case, and if at some point something spiritual also helps, we’ll add that in. Whereas as Christians, as Bible believing Christians, we flip that upside down and we start with the spiritual. We start with, we have been created to have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ, and there are some very real implications to that. That’s acknowledging our brokenness, acknowledging our sin, acknowledging that we need to repent and receive forgiveness from Christ who died in our place on the cross. That has a very real implication to us. That’s the starting point, and then we are made a new creation. And that means, again, there’s an implication there that we’re not broken anymore, that we’re still struggling with sin, we’re still dealing with the flesh and the sin nature, but we are made full in Christ, so that’s our starting point.
Now, if we need to add other things along the way to help us continue to heal, of course, we do that, but the foundation is a spiritual foundation. And when someone comes to us, and particularly in the context of our program, they’ve had it the other way around. They’ve tried the clinical, they’ve tried the medication, they’ve tried the therapies, and yet they’ve done all of that without the foundation of who they were created by God to be, how it is they were created to have a relationship with him, acknowledging their sin, acknowledging their brokenness, and receiving the healing that comes from a salvation relationship with Christ, so that’s, again, the starting point. And when we get the right starting point, we then have the right goal. There is hope. Hopelessness, as I understand it, is if we were to draw a circle around ourselves and we look only inside of that circle, that’s extremely hopeless.
And so many folks who are dealing with trauma have dealt with trauma, are struggling because of bad decisions on the other side of trauma. They’re hopeless because their entire world consists of what’s inside of that circle that they’ve drawn around themselves. They have nothing else. When we understand a relationship with God, we’re able to elevate our view to look outside of the circle and put our hope not in therapy, not in our will, not in discipline, not in our ability to pull ourselves up or move forward of our own accord, but our hope, our confidence, our faith is in God who is bigger than all of it. So that’s the starting point for hope. It’s understanding, I don’t have to figure all this out. I simply need to align my life to the life I was created by God to live, and once we can get people there, we can continue to move forward.
Sam Rohrer: Okay. Jeremy, it’s a logical question here because people are listening. I and myself have a question. We talk a lot on this program about medical and health issues, and so you’re going to that point. I’m going to ask you this question. How do you define PTSD? You’re describing a solution which it sounds more spiritual by what you’re saying and of course, we know, but is there a definition? The problems that veterans are having that falls under this category of PTSD, I think a lot of people have a lot of different concepts of what it is. What is it exactly?
Jeremy Stalneck…: If any of us could answer, what is it exactly? We need to write a book, it’d be a bestseller, I promise. What it is exactly is hard to define, and this is one of the problems with post-traumatic stress disorder. Post-traumatic stress disorder is clinically diagnosed, not based on something that a physician can see, not based on a readout on an MRI or something like that, but rather a series of issues that an individual is dealing with that they can tie back to a traumatic event. So post traumatic stress is stress that is ongoing after a traumatic event has taken place in someone’s life, and the way that would be diagnosed, if I were to sit in front of a VA counselor or a therapist, they would ask a series of questions, “Do you have a lot of problems sleeping? Do you have anger issues?” And they typically fall into three buckets.
Do you have any of these issues? If you answer yes to any of the questions, they would ask as a diagnostic tool, and then you can tie that back to the starting point of trauma, you would be diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. And again, a lot’s been written on this. One of the good things that’s come out of 20 years of war and studying this is that there is actual physical components. The brain changes as it responds to trauma, and we’re beginning to understand that. Where some of that breaks down is, we have post traumatic stress and there are some physical physiological changes related to that, and then you have head trauma and you have other traumas, physical traumas that seem to appear the same, so we’re working through that. But what is post traumatic stress disorder?
It is ongoing stress. Stress responses to trauma that has happened at some point in the past. That’s the simplest answer I can give to this. Now, I’m glad you brought this up because I like to make this point. Definitions are only helpful if they create a bridge that get us to a place of healing, and I think in this space sometimes we spend so much time talking about, “Well, what you have is not directly connected to trauma. What you’re dealing with,” all of these issues. Maybe it’s not post-traumatic stress or maybe it is, and I’ve been diagnosed by a doctor, so there’s not a spiritual connection. Here’s how I like to view trauma. What is trauma? It’s an event or series of events that have pushed us beyond our ability to cope. To me that is the most practical definition that I didn’t make up, I wish I had, but I did steal it.
It’s an event or series of events that have pushed us beyond our ability to cope, so in my world, most of the people I deal with in the context of our program have been clinically diagnosed with post-traumatic stress. We work to convince them they’re not disordered, they’re not broken, they’re responding to a traumatic event. The trauma is broken, not your response to it. Your response is natural to a very broken situation, so you’re not broken, but maybe you’ve been pushed beyond your ability to cope. So let’s put in place what is necessary, beginning with a spiritual foundation that allows you to move beyond that trauma.
Isaac Crockett: In my office, because I’ve worked with social workers and therapists and things, I have the DSM-IV, the DSM-V, these diagnostic tools and things, but I love what you’re saying and it’s always difficult when you’re trying to tell somebody, “Oh, you have a disorder, wait a minute.” And especially when you’re dealing with trauma because it could be masked by other things. A lot of times the traumatic thing was a physical thing involved, so there can be head trauma, and just like sometimes in a car accident, you don’t realize how bad it is until a few days later you really start to feel it, and so you’re taking it back to the center, to the core of who we are. We are made in the image of God, that spiritual component is so important, and we’re not broken. God didn’t say, “Oh no, what am I going to do? I can’t fix it now.”
And so I love the hope that you give because what you’re giving is actual solution, and so many times it feels like there are people… I think that’s why the suicide rate is so high. There’s so many people saying, “There’s no hope for me, there’s nothing to do. I’m broken and that’s it, and I’m just finished.” And so if you could talk to us about the part where people who are struggling to find purpose for life, when you show them that there is hope and that trauma isn’t just a veteran thing, it’s a human thing, is something that I’ve learned from you and that the Bible talks about trauma, it talks about recovery, just speak to us about that.
Jeremy Stalneck…: Yeah. I mean, there are many examples, and I think we talked about this last time I was on the show, many, many examples throughout scripture of individuals dealing with traumatic events. And I like to start in the Garden of Eden, and Adam and Eve sinning against God, the trauma of being cast out of the garden and dealing with a whole new world. A mom and dad dealing with the murder of one son by another son. I mean, this is first couple of chapters right in the Bible. We talked about the flood, we talked about so many other examples.
Isaac Crockett: So important. I’m going to come back to follow up to that question when we come back. We’re going to take our last time out, and we’re going to wrap things up. We’re already getting to these amazing solutions. The Bible has solutions. The Bible gives us true hope. We’re talking with Jeremy Stalnecker from Mighty Oaks Foundation. We’re going to take this quick timeout and come back and look at this hope and the spiritual resiliency, and just close our program in prayer for our nation, for our veterans and we’ll be right back.
Isaac Crockett: Well, thank you so much for listening today. This is Isaac Crockett and my co-host Sam Rohrer and we’re talking with Jeremy Stalnecker from Mighty Oaks Foundation. And Jeremy, if we could go back to what you were just talking about… In fact, over the break, Sam talked about not giving into fear but having our faith in God, and if you could just continue that thought that you were talking about where people, whether they’re diagnosed with PTSD or whether they’re just dealing with the difficult changes coming out of military life or first responder duties, but helping anybody.
In fact, you have so many resources out there for everybody, not just one community or another, but helping everybody understand that the changes and the difficulties we go through, the trauma that we’ve experienced, that those things are human things. Those are things that we go through in this place called life in a fallen world, and you were talking about from creation and all the way through the Bible, how we have to understand that. And so really what you’re saying is to have a true solution to the problems we’re facing, we have to have a biblical understanding, a biblical world view of it, so if you could continue to explain that, and you were talking about some of the examples in the Bible because it’s not like the Bible is silent about this. There’s so much in there to help us.
Jeremy Stalneck…: There’s so many examples. And again, right before the break, we started in the Garden of Eden. You worked to the great flood, and it’s amazing that the picture that is drawn on every nursery wall, in every church in America, it’s probably the most traumatic event found in the Bible, the wiping out the population and all that went into that and Noah and his family dealing with that extreme trauma, and you can follow this throughout scripture, men and women who dealt with trauma. You go into the Psalms, you read Psalm 6 and the Psalmist cries out, “How long, oh Lord? How long is it going to last?” He talks about crying so that his couch or his bed is flooding over with tears. He talks about the dryness and the brittleness of his bones. This is the expression of trauma. We see this throughout the Old Testament.
We come into the New Testament, we find the only perfect person who’s ever lived, Jesus Christ our Savior, in the garden praying to God the Father, “If it be possible, let this cup pass from me, not my will, but thine be done.” The Bible talks about how Jesus sweat, as it were drops of blood while his friends, those who should have supported him were sleeping. They weren’t even aware of what was going on. The agony of Jesus Christ as he made his way to the cross. This is trauma, this is not sin, this is not brokenness, this is humanness, and we see that even in Jesus Christ. A great example in the New Testament is the Apostle Paul who speaks often of this, and I’ve shared this before, but I love the contrast between Romans 7 and Romans 8. Romans 7, Paul declares, “A wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from this body of death?”
And I’ve talked to a lot of veterans, I’ve experienced this myself, others have for sure, that are listening, where you feel like you’re living in a body of death. What does that mean? Absolute hopelessness, there’s nowhere to go. And Paul says, “Who shall deliver me from this body of death?” You then go over to Romans 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.” The hope is found in understanding who Jesus is. The hope is found in an identity with him. Paul would later declare while sitting in a jail cell that he has been crucified with Christ. Nevertheless, I live, it’s this expression of I simply want to be aligned to Jesus Christ my savior, and the purpose he has for my life. And when we’re dealing with transitions in life, wherever those transitions come from, and I’ll pause real quick, there are very real issues that people need to deal with.
This is not to whitewash the issues that we’re struggling with. It’s just to understand that our identity is not that issue. Our identity is not that brokenness. Our identity is not that trauma. Those are all situations and issues that we need to deal with. Perhaps, we need good counselors to help us walk through that. We need to use the resources available to us, but those things are not our identity. Our identity needs to be found in a relationship with Christ, and when that’s our identity, we can then deal with everything else that’s going on in our lives.
Isaac Crockett: Well, Jeremy Stalnecker, thank you so much. That just was so helpful, and for those of you listening, don’t forget their website, mightyoaksprograms.org. There are so many resources there. And the programs you do that you run for veterans and first responders are just amazing, but the online resources that if you need something right now, if you need to know more about what Jeremy was talking about, of course, our website talks about how you can know God personally, but to go to Mighty Oaks and look at it, to watch some of these videos, to look at some of these resources. We’re running out of time. I just wish we had more time to talk about some of these things. But to close our program, Tim, our producer, Tim Schneider, I’m going to see if there’s time. I’d love to have you and Sam both give any closing remarks and close in prayer. But we’ll start with you Tim, and just go to the Lord to finish this program.
Tim Schneider: Sure, Isaac. Thank you very much Jeremy for your ministry and we certainly appreciate it. And to all those that have served or are currently serving, Happy Veterans Day to you. You may not know this, but about 1% of our population ever serve at any given time in the armed forces, and even less than 1% serve as a career of 20 or more years. When I was 18 years old, I never even thought growing up that I was even going to join the military, but I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I was graduating high school, And I know that college at that time was not something that completely thrilled me, so I decided that I would go ahead and serve my country and serve the military, and it ended up being a 22 year career. I was able to travel the world. I’ve seen lots of places around the world and thankful for that. I’ve created some really good friendships with some brothers and sisters in arms that I consider valuable and I still have to this day.
And also I had an opportunity for it to pay for my education. I was able to get a Master’s degree, and I’m thankful for that. But one of the biggest reasons, and I’m thankful for joining the military is because I had the opportunity to preserve our freedom. And we see it eroding around us all the time now, but we have the military and we believe that we stand by the Constitution for those that serve and put on that uniform and swear that oath, and we continue to hopefully continue to do that with our military. So I’m certainly thankful that I did join and I did spend 22 years even though originally I did not know that. And also I’m just thankful, I didn’t have the opportunity I’m thankful for, to really know anybody that did commit suicide or heavily struggled with PTSD which is kind of a rarity and having served in 22 years.
But I’m not really, I can’t think off the top of my head of anybody that I know of that really struggled with that, so I can say for myself and for those around me, I’m certainly thankful. But let’s go ahead and quickly go to the Lord in prayer. Father, I just thank you for you. I thank you for freedom. I thank you that, that’s a creation and that’s a characteristic of who you are. We praise you God for being the God of freedom, and that freedom is what you’re about and is about your character. Father, we thank you for those that have served in our military or are currently serving and the sacrifices that they’ve made and are currently making. We pray you continue to give them strength. We pray you continue to give them wisdom. God, and we just pray for those in positions of high leadership.
God, may they make decisions, Lord, that will help preserve our freedom around the world, God, and right here on the shores of America. Father, just please be with those that are struggling also, Lord, with PTSD and other things because of their service. We pray, Lord, that we can serve them as the church and the body of Christ in any way that you help us to, and we pray, Lord, that ultimately you would be the great physician and you would give them the comfort and peace, Father, that they deserve. We pray for our military chaplains, Lord, that serve in our military, that preach the gospel, and we pray that they would preach the full counsel of God to those that they serve Lord, and they would be a light and a hope, Lord, for those there. And we just thank you for our military. We pray you be with them Lord, and just continue to guide them, and may they ultimately be fully devoted followers of yours. We ask in your precious and holy name. Amen.
Sam Rohrer: Just a few closing additions to what Tim has prayed. Lord, we’re thankful for the freedom that we have to do this program that is in part a result of those who have been willing to sacrifice their lives over the past so that this could be done. And we thank you, Lord, at the end of the day, you are the one that makes this possible, and so we do pray that your Holy Spirit would be involved in the lives of these that our guests Jeremy has talked about and those many, that they interface with, that Lord, they will continue… That Jeremy and his foundation and the folks that work with them will be able to see and communicate the power of the gospel through the Holy Spirit to the lives of these who have served so that we and they can be served in their time of need in Jesus name, Amen.
Isaac Crockett: Amen. Thank you Sam and Tim. Jeremy Stalnecker, thank you so much for being on this program. Thank you for your service to our country and you too, Tim. And Jeremy, thank you for the ministry and the service you have to those who have served. I hope that we’ll all pray for and serve our veterans all year long. Thank you for listening. Until next time, make sure you stand in the gap for truth today.