For the past 10 years, members of Rehobeth United Methodist Church in Sherrills Ford have carried on a ministry in service to men and women engaged in service to their country.
The project began in 2005 when Rehobeth parishioners Bob and Dee Greene read an article in The Charlotte Observer about the needs of wounded troops being sent from Afghanistan to the hospital at Camp Anaconda in Baghdad.
A member of the hospital staff at that time, Air Force Master Sgt. David Muns, said, “The patients often arrive from a field environment with little but the shirt on their back. Often their clothes have to be cut off by medics in the field.”
Wounded service members were sent from the Camp Anaconda hospital to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, outfitted with “clean T-shirts, shorts, underwear, flip-flops and toiletries, as well as a card of encouragement,” most of which was donated by concerned individuals back home.
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With donated supplies running low, Muns was seeking donations to replenish the stockpile held in reserve at the hospital.
Initially, the Rehobeth ministry provided toiletries, casual clothing, socks and such, and when the hospital at Camp Anaconda closed with the departure of U.S. troops from Iraq, the ministry devoted its efforts to sending personal “get well” cards with words of encouragement addressed to Our Wounded Warriors.
Eventually, the project was expanded to include Baghram Air Force Base in Afghanistan, as well as troops in Kuwait. Cards designated for the military hospitals were placed at empty beds in anticipation of incoming patients.
With the success of the card ministry for Wounded Warriors, the project was extended to include various special occasions, such as Valentine’s Day (with chocolates included), Easter, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas.
The cards may be handmade or purchased with donations to the Rehobeth Missions Fund, which also provides for postage. Personal messages, including words of encouragement and gratitude for service, are composed by members of the congregation.
In the first few years, approximately 25 to 50 cards were sent each month. Now, 400 to 400 cards are sent on each special occasion.
Dee Greene, who initiated the Card Ministry for Our Soldiers 10 years ago, is planning to start another ministry to send cards to wounded warriors in Veterans Administration hospitals in the U.S.
“We want them to know that we are thinking of them and praying for them daily,” says parishioner Betty Holdsclaw who, with her nephew Terry, has assumed responsibility for the mission.
Bruce Dunbridge is a freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rehobeth UMC office: 828-478-2518.