It’s Sunday morning and you struggle to get yourself to church on time. On the other side of the ocean a young American wakes to the sound of gun fire and shouting soldiers.
Over and over again, the sacrifices of our service men and women have, among other things, provided the liberty to awaken oneself to get to church on a Sunday morning free and clear of danger or persecution.
Such sacrifices haven’t escaped the notice of some churches.
The father of one of those fighting to protect our country, Jim Leascher, pastoral counselor at First Baptist Church in Odessa, has begun a ministry called Honor Our Troops (HOT). The program is for those who want to support and show appreciation to those serving overseas by purchasing small care packages.
For $25, one may purchase a flat-rate care package containing objects that to military people in harm’s way are priceless: non-perishable snacks, toiletry items, and perhaps most valuable?a personalized letter and picture sent from the person, family or group supporting the service person.
Leascher established this organization when his son, Army specialist Chad Leascher, was deployed to Afghanistan in 2003. In 2004, after being honorably discharged, Chad safely arrived back on U.S. soil. “We praise God Chad is back with us and out of harm’s way,” Leascher said.
Many war veterans leave the combat behind but are sometimes haunted by what they witness, Leascher said.
“This is why it is so very important to let our military know we appreciate them, we pray for them, and we think of them often,” Leascher said.
The packages come with Oreos, Pringles, sunflower seeds, and beef jerky as well as deodorant, lotion, and baby wipes. Among all the goodies are a picture and a post card from the sponsoring family.
“The response from the folks here and military overseas has been overwhelming and has confirmed over and over that we at HOT are doing what God has intended us to do,” Leascher said.
HOT has one-day events in churches, businesses, and at sporting events across Texas. One recent event at Central Baptist Church in College Station spotlighted the HOT ministry. Central pastor Chris Osborne attended Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary with Leascher.
“We want to encourage our troops while they are in harm’s way,” Osborne said, “and are hoping to provide HOT with at least 1,000 care packages, if not more.”
The church met the challenge, purchasing 1,440 care packages.
“Unbelievable,” Leascher said. “We hope to pattern what we had at Central with other churches and events,” Leascher said.
“We praise God for Jim and his ministry,” Osborne said. “What the Lord did here at Central is small compared to what his plans really are. God will give Jim everything he needs to fulfill God’s plan.”
For more information about the HOT ministry, call 432-889-0177 or e-mail them at firstname.lastname@example.org. The website address is hot-honorourtroops.com.