If you’ve been a military spouse for any amount of time, you know that something always goes wrong when your spouse is away from home on official duty. For example, a mere 24 hours after my husband left for a two-week field exercise, our refrigerator supply line exploded. Unfortunately, I didn’t know where the water shut-off line was located, and the water drenched our kitchen walls and floors for 30 minutes.
None of my neighbors were home to help, and I didn’t know who else to call. Thankfully, I got a hold of my husband, who reached out to his men’s Bible study group. Two of his friends came rushing over to stop the flooding. But who do we call when we’ve recently moved and are not yet connected to our community? Or, who can we count on to come in the middle of the night when there’s an emergency, and we don’t have family who lives nearby? As military spouses, these are genuine challenges we face. God’s been teaching me this is a perfect space for the local church to step up and help!
When our troops here at Fort Bragg started to deploy in response to the crisis in Ukraine, I approached our Pastor at Liberty Church after a Sunday service: “Does our church have anything in place to support the families whose service members deployed?” Showing his skill as an effective leader, Pastor Andrew Taylor replied with a smile, “No, we don’t. But, do you want to start something?”
I’ve taught Bible studies for years, but I’d never started a program at church before, and the idea of creating a new ministry felt overwhelming. Thankfully, Pastor Andrew paired me with a seasoned ministry leader and fellow military spouse, Emily Lovette. A famous African proverb says, “If you want to go fast, go alone; but if you want to go far, go together.” I’m grateful Emily caught the vision and agreed to go with me! We began planning this new ministry in the spring and launched it this September. We call it Military Star Families.
The goal of Military Star Families is to support and encourage military families whose service member is away from home on official duty, whether that’s for one week or one year. To do this, we’ve created a system that pairs church volunteers with military families. This provides our military families with someone they know they can call on for help when they need prayer, assistance when the car battery refuses to turn on in the store parking lot, a meal after an exhausting day of caring for sick kids, or someone to help find the water shut off valve!
Our church family can volunteer to participate in this program in two ways. One, they can sign up to be a Partner. Partners are assigned to a military family and are responsible for checking in with them at least once weekly. A Partner’s goal is to support the military family practically and relationally, representing the love of Jesus.
Another way church members can get involved is to sign up as a Supporter. A Supporter is not tied to one specific military family but volunteers to offer their gifts and talents on an as-needed basis free of charge. Some services they might offer our military families are babysitting, lawn care, meals, prayer, vehicle repairs, or home maintenance.
We want the local church to be able to step in and say, “We’ve got you. Let us help!” and mean it. Emily and I have a grand vision that churches worldwide can implement this program to be the hands and feet of Jesus, providing for military families during seasons of separation from their service members.
If you’re interested in starting a similar program at your church, please fill out the contact form at AshleyAshcraft.com to request more information or visit https://www.libertyonline.church/militarystarfamilies to see what we have in place.