(Air1 Closer Look)– U.S. soldiers must endure grueling physical training. They suffer sleepless nights, heavy rucksacks, muddy marches and lonely months --or years-- separated from loved ones. As battle drills build strength and endurance for mind and body, Cru Military Ministry seeks to strengthen a soldier’s heart and soul. The mission “for us, specifically…it’s spiritual fitness,” says Dave Eatman, Marine veteran and Cru National Director. The ministry offers “discipleship, education and mentoring and encouragement to serve Christ well and walk with Christ well while in uniform.”
Spiritual fitness is achieved through four objectives: strengthening the military family through mentorship, addressing combat trauma by connecting soldiers to healing through Jesus, reaching women in the military as soldiers or wives and providing ongoing religious education to anyone who wants to know more about God. The ministry targets all service members, whether Christian or not, in more than 30 countries worldwide. Active and reserve, they freely offer friendship and support.
Cru leaders see no value in waiting until the foxhole to discuss a soldier’s faith, as it is well-documented that living in harm’s way puts soldiers at unique risk for depression, substance abuse and troubled marriages. “There are 2,000 divorces a month across the active military,” says Eatman, “it’s really just an epidemic.” As part of it's mission, Cru works to intercept marital division. “We want to be able to come along side service members, men and women as they’re considering marriage and try to help mentor and equip them” for the “challenges in a military environment.”
The Cru tactical plan hinges on partnership with on-base chaplains and local pastors who wish to serve military members. That noble desire can be complicated. First, there’s finding effective ways to uplift service members who will only attend the church until they leave for their next duty station. And then “you have others, when they take the uniform off they just want to be ‘Joe or Mary,” Eatman explains. For those in that category, Cru helps local churches design outreaches sensitive their needs. “Ultimately we want to be a caring presence that brings forth the love and the hope of Jesus Christ.”