At age 20, Mary* enlisted in the Air Force. Moving from a close-knit family with six siblings in Virginia to the desert of Arizona felt like she was moving to a spiritual and emotional desert as well. Mary shares her desert experience:
Growing up, I never felt alone. I had six siblings, and I remember sitting right beside my dad as he studied the Bible. As a teen, I was old enough to understand faith and decided to follow Jesus. I had never really been on my own until I enlisted in the Air Force. After basic training, I was stationed at Davis-Monthan in Tucson, Arizona. I didn’t have any Christian friends, so my only support was with family and friends over the phone.
I think the feeling of isolation left me open to spiritual attack. I was lonely and depressed and found that it was even hard to read the Bible and pray. Then a co-worker invited me to a Navigators Bible study on base, led by Doug Breen (Navigators Military).
This fellowship was just what I needed to keep me from losing hope, and the time gave me spiritual nourishment each week! I was able to take what I had learned from the Bible study and relate it to the struggles in my own life.
My passion for God and His Holy Word grew strong once again, and over time it was the truth in His Word that helped me overcome my struggles and depression.
In addition to the weekly Bible study on base, Doug invited me to gatherings at their home, where I met Beth Ann, Doug’s wife. Their home was a loving place and they welcomed me in regularly, sometimes several times a week! I started meeting with Beth Ann and she helped point me toward the truth of God’s love for me in areas of my personal struggles.
I have completed my period of service and have now moved to Texas for college and to continue in the Air National Guard. But the truths that I learned about God and myself while in the desert will stay with me always:
- God never lets go of me (Romans 8:38,39). This is true even if I feel like I have failed Him.
- I am forgiven (1 John 1:9). Thanks to my time with Beth Ann, and the work of the Holy Spirit, I have finally been able to realize and rest in the mercy of God.
- I can hope in God (1 Peter 5:10). Through Bible studies, fellowship times at the Breens’, and personal time with God, I found real hope in Him again, and no longer feel despair.
Because of the way I’ve seen God teach me and transform my life over these past few years, I find myself wanting to become a Navigator. As I move on to the next chapter in my life’s journey, I want to be available to help bring others into God’s Word and be there for them—just as Doug and Beth Ann have been there for me. They have inspired me by their example, and I hope to do the same, hopefully leading many to Christ through God’s love.
Pray that many more service men and women will find hope and community through Navigators Military. Pray that generations of disciplemakers will become a movement in every branch of the military service and at every base.
A welcoming home, a meal around the table, games and laughter, Bible studies and going deeper in faith—all these are aspects of the refreshment that Doug and Beth Ann Breen offer to military personnel stationed near their home in Tucson, Arizona. By opening their home in hospitality and even having airmen living with them, they engage in deeply rooted Life-to-Life® discipleship.
Going from hospitality to having airmen live with them has provided an opportunity for deeper ministry investment and life transformation. A couple of years ago, Raymond* was living in a house with several other Christians but needed to move. Raymond said to Doug, “I want to live with you guys. I want to learn from you.”
This request spurred Doug and Beth Ann to pray and discern that God wanted them to open their home to airmen. John*, another man they were discipling, also moved in. Doug shared how having the airmen living with them has extended their day-to-day ministry: “It is beautiful how gifted Beth Ann is in relating with the young men. She is a natural with them, listening to them, and using her relational gifts to guide them. She loves her grown sons, and these young airmen are like her sons.”
Living in a Christian family setting is especially meaningful for those who did not grow up with examples of people of faith in their everyday life. Raymond would like to be married someday, and he and Doug have had conversations about the importance of marriage vows and of seeking God’s direction in relationships. Raymond also sees the day-to-day commitment that Doug and Beth Ann exhibit in their marriage relationship.
Recently, both Raymond and John have left for remote assignments, but Doug and Beth Ann are praying that God will bring the next airman who is ready to grow in Christ to live in their home.