Nearly 130 military couples gathered at The Cove Feb. 28-March 2 for the second annual Operation Heal Our Patriots reunion. The couples had all previously attended marriage retreats in Port Alsworth, Alaska, through the Samaritan’s Purse project Operation Heal Our Patriots. At the reunion, retired U.S. Army Lt. Gen. William “Jerry” Boykin presented a message so important and inspiring that Decision wanted to share it with all of our readers. Below is a shortened version of that message.
I love warriors. I love being with warriors. I don’t care how badly injured you are. I don’t care if you’re blind. I don’t care if you are missing limbs. You’ve got a warrior’s heart. You’re a warrior, and you need to continue being a warrior.
Exodus 15:3 says: “The Lord is a warrior; the Lord is his name” (NIV). Exodus is pretty early in the Bible. And then in the last book of the Bible, in Revelation 19, it says He’s coming back. As what? As a warrior. It says He’s coming back riding a white horse and wearing a blood-stained white robe, leading a mighty army with a sword.
Every great man that God used in the Bible was first and foremost a warrior. So, what is a warrior?
Here’s what a warrior is. It’s not the guy who is armed with an AR15 and 30-round magazines. The warrior is someone who says: “This is what I love. This is what I hold dear. This is my family. This is my country. This is my faith. And this is what threatens it. This is the enemy. You will not hurt what I hold dear. You will not hurt what I love, without coming through me.”
You know who the greatest warriors are in God’s Kingdom? Intercessors. I’ve got people who intercede for me all the time. I had an intercessor call me all the way from Kuwait one time to tell me something that she felt the Holy Spirit was revealing to her. Warriors stand between what they hold dear and what threatens it.
The warrior fights for a transcendent cause, for something greater than himself. I took an oath on Dec. 26, 1970. I said: “I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same, that I take this obligation freely without any minimal reservation or purpose of evasion and I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter, so help me God.”
That became my transcendent cause. I love the Constitution because this is America. This is what we are about. This is who we are. It’s our identity and it must be preserved. Today it’s under attack. If you’re stagnated, if you’re stale, if you’re trying to figure out what you’re going to do with the rest of your life, you must get back to being warriors. America needs you.
You say, “Well, I don’t know what to do now. I’m 100 percent disabled.”
You can get in the fight. If you can’t do anything else but pick up a telephone and call a member of Congress, call your state representative, call the city council. If you can send email, you can make a difference.
You say, “My phone call won’t mean anything.” Oh yes, it will. I work with Congress every week, and I can tell you it will make a difference. America needs you now—desperately.
First you’ve got to decide what you believe. What do you stand for? Who are you? What are you all about? If you can determine what you believe, that will tell you what you hold dear. It will tell you what you have to protect.
I’m going to tell you about an old disabled veteran. His name was Cecil. Cecil grew up on a tobacco farm in Eastern North Carolina. In 1943, when he had just turned 17 years old, he enlisted in the Navy. On June 6, 1944, as he was driving a landing craft, coming ashore at a place called Normandy, there was a large explosion, and the next thing Cecil knew, he woke up in Bethesda Naval Hospital. His landing craft had taken a direct hit, and he had lost his left eye in the explosion. He was discharged from the Navy.
He went back to the farm, married his sweetheart and started his family. Then the Korean War came along, and the Army decided they would take disabled veterans who could still function. He went in the Army. After the Korean War, he was discharged a second time, went back to the tobacco farm and continued raising his family. Then the United States Marine Corps offered him an opportunity to be a civilian employee. He spent 32 years with the Marine Corps, including a tour in Vietnam.
Cecil loved God, and he was a very generous man. When his parents, who were sharecroppers, could no longer farm and had no place to go, Cecil took his disability check and bought his parents a home while his own family lived in a rented home. But he knew that it was his responsibility because the Bible said to take care of your parents.
His friend’s house burned down, and Cecil took all the money he had and gave it to his friend, when he could barely pay his own bills. When Cecil’s children had left, he took in a little black boy named Shakif. He bought him baseball equipment, taught him to play baseball and helped raise Shakif into a good athlete, but also into a good man.
And he told his other children—and you didn’t do this in Eastern North Carolina at the time—he said, “Shakif is your brother. Treat him like your brother.” Because he thought the worst thing that could happen to a boy was to grow up without a father in his life, he raised that little boy as his own.
Gerald Cecil Boykin was my dad. He loved America. He stayed in the fight to the end. He was disabled, but he stayed in the fight to the end because he knew what he believed in. He believed in God. He believed in America. And he believed in his family. He stayed in the fight until the day he died.
I watched him die. I watched him talking to God in his last moments on earth. He knew what he believed. What do you believe? What are you willing to fight for? What’s your transcendent cause?
God is not done with you. He’s not going to leave you. He called you to be a warrior. Because you’re missing parts or because you’re struggling with a traumatic brain injury does not mean that you are not still a warrior or that you can’t still be used in God’s Kingdom. Make a commitment to do your very best to live for Christ, because God wants to use you, and this country needs you to be a warrior.
©2014 William Boykin
Bible verses marked NIV are taken by permission from The Holy Bible, New International Version, © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2010 Biblica, Inc.
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