Ministry to Military Wives
By: Brittany Brown
It’s an interesting space for me, to be asked what ministering to military wives looks like. I honestly don’t know any other kind of ministry apart from ministry that includes large numbers of married and single service members. I’ve never known the body of Christ in any other cultural context.
My journey as a military wife began at the crossroads of my conversion with Christ. I have seen, learned, and noticed three things during our 20 years of active duty life, and now 2 years as a church planter’s wife- outside of a military installation.
I’ve seen that simple is always better and that the model exemplified for us by the early church in the book of Acts is the best way to minister to military wives. I’ve learned that discipleship is important. I’ve noticed that women who are married to military men need the church to be hospitable, communal, and familial, they don’t need another program. Here are three encouragements for ministering to military wives.
- Military wives desperately need you to be the body of Christ.
Here is a little secret about those of us who married a man in uniform. We don’t like to ask for help. We are for the most part extremely self-sufficient–to a fault. Our house could be on fire and you would find us googling the best way to put it out. Maybe not that crazy, but sometimes it seems like it.
The truth is we can be stubborn, and fiercely independent. While these characteristics can be our strengths, they are many times our weaknesses. After all, our husbands are the world’s protectors. Weakness is not a glorified virtue in the military community. We desperately need spiritual mothers in the body, and our Pastors to remind us that when we are weak, Christ is strong.
We need the church to be the body of Christ, to come alongside us and point us back to Jesus–reminding us of our identity in Christ alone and calling us to break free from stereotypes, and cultural norms within the military community. We need to be discipled in the way of the Savior. Don’t let our strong exterior fool you, we need you, in so many unseen and unspoken ways we need you to be the church body.
- Engage in spiritual formation and embrace the few years you have with us.
Disciple us. Press in. Don’t feel like you are wasting your time.
In the church where I met Christ, the Pastor would tell the military wives, the families, and single service members that we were “Government funded missionaries.” He believed that statement with all of his being. He was an older man who had been around for quite some time. He saw something in the military. He passionately felt that if the church would harness the reality that we were a mobile community of people, then the military could be used by God all over the world.
The idea of being a “Government funded missionary” shaped our military career and the way we did life and community. It molded me as a military wife, and as a follower of Christ, I saw that my mission wasn’t given by the Marine Corps, rather I was on mission for Jesus!
Friends, missionaries need training, and you expect missionaries to leave–to go to the field where God has called them to serve. So train up missionary women! Teach these women to love the Lord with all their heart, soul, and mind, and to hunger after Him and His Word. Disciple these military wives. Earnestly seek the Father’s guidance.
Think about formation. What do you believe, based on scripture, would be the most formative wisdom you can share with the military wives you have in front of you in this season? Prepare them, and get ready to send them out!
Discipleship is not short-sighted–rather it is Kingdom-minded. Participate in the great commission, and give yourself to the work of raising up military wives and shooting them like arrows all across the nation and into the uttermost parts of the world.
- Be hospitable.
A quick read-through of Acts, or a glance at the way Jesus lived His life may make you want to skip this section. After all, doing life with people can be scary, it requires vulnerability and a giving of yourself that will come at a great cost. In the words of Elisabeth Elliot; “Hospitality is almost never convenient, but it is always necessary.”
Military wives are searching for a genuine and authentic community, a family. You cannot have a deeply rooted community, severed from hospitality. The thought of Biblical hospitality brings tears to my eyes because I remember all of the women who have opened their homes and lives to me through the years.
The ones who let me in, who instructed me in the ways of the Lord over coffee and muffins, challenged me to read the Word, love the Word, and be a woman of the Word. All of this happened while nestled on comfy couches with toys strewn across the floor, and dishes left unattended in the sink.
In these real-life, day-to-day spaces–hard questions were asked, purposeful conversations were had, and the Word was being enfleshed as iron was sharpening iron. Hospitality is an investment, one you may never see a return on–It is kingdom work.
Think about this: What if you could raise up an army of women, who know Jesus, and are willing to make Him known, who support their husbands, who raise their kids in the ways of the Lord, and who are highly transient? Think of the Kingdom impact! It’s all about perspective. If you have military wives in your congregation you have been gifted the privilege to train up “Government funded missionaries.” I say cheers. Embrace the movement instead of fighting against it.