Oasis Christian Center Honors Veterans' Sacrifice

November 17, 2021 | Mission and Outreach

Oasis Christian Center in Vancouver, Washington honored veterans’ sacrifice with a special Sabbath celebration Nov. 6, 2021. The ceremony featured guest speaker, Lt. Col. Randy Croft, 509th Bomb Wing chaplain, who is also the founding pastor of Oasis Christian Center.

“This is an opportunity for us to connect with our community,” said Kara Johnsson, Oasis pastor. “By recognizing veterans for their service, we embrace them within our spiritual community [where] they can receive a blessing.”

Johnsson's husband, Terry Johnsson is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force Presidential Honor Guard and serves as a church elder. He welcomed guests to the ceremony. Caroline (Missi) Koller, Pfc. U.S. Army and an Oasis church elder, invited God’s presence with an opening prayer. Sarah Fox, Vancouver City Council Member and U.S. Army Intelligence Officers (Bosnia), gave a short speech thanking veterans for their service. 

The colorful event included Patriot Guard Riders who lined the church walkway with flags. 

As a continuous snare drum rolled, members of the Prairie High School Junior Reserve Officer Training Corp posted colors inside the church, then saluted while Annette Allen, U.S. Air Force (Vietnam) played America the Beautiful on bagpipes.

Oasis church member, Lt. Col. Lonnie Pierce, (retired) Air Force (Afghanistan), introduced a scroll of honor that listed over 200 names of Oasis family members and friends, past and present, who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces.

Taps was played in memory of those who have died and the poem, I AM A VETERAN, by Andrea C. Brett, was read by 2nd Lt. Donald Cobbs, U.S. Air Force Pararescue (Vietnam). It was a moving tribute to all of them.

Chaplain Croft’s poignant message was rooted in scripture. Filled with anecdotes from historical events and his own military experiences, he shared that God is a God of freedom who sent His son Jesus on a twofold mission: to free us from our sins for eternal life and to free us from oppression in this life. He said, as followers of Jesus, our mission here at home is also twofold.  

Croft cautioned us not to get so focused on an eternal life “way beyond the blue” that we ignore people who are oppressed in our world today. At the same time, he said we should not only focus on freeing people from oppression, but also getting hearts connected to Jesus Christ for eternity.

Pierce affirmed Pastor Kara Johnsson’s sentiment, “For veterans, military service often defines them as a person, so it is important to connect with them on this level. This worship service was very meaningful.”

Watch the service online.

 

I AM A VETERAN
by Andrea Christensen Brett

You may not know me the first time we meet 
I’m just another you see on the street
But I am the reason you walk and breathe free 
I am the reason for your liberty

I AM A VETERAN

I work in the local factory all day
I own the restaurant just down the way
I sell you insurance, I start your IV
I’ve got the best-looking grandkids you’ll ever see

I’m your grocer, your banker
Your child’s schoolteacher
I’m your plumber, your barber
Your family’s preacher
But there’s part of me you don’t know very well
Just listen a moment, I’ve a story to tell

I AM A VETERAN

I joined the service while still in my teens
I traded my prom dress for camouflage greens
I’m the first in my family to do something like this
I followed my father, like he followed his

Defying my fears and hiding my doubt
I married my sweetheart before I shipped out
I missed Christmas, then Easter
The birth of my son
But I knew I was doing what had to be done

I served on the battlefront, I served on the base
I bound up the wounded
And begged for God’s grace
I gave orders to fire, I followed commands
I marched into conflict in far distant lands

In the jungle, the desert, on mountains and shores
In bunkers, in tents, on dank earthen floors
While I fought on the ground, in the air, on the sea
My family and friends were home praying for me

For the land of the free and the home of the brave
I faced my demons in foxholes and caves
Then one dreaded day, without drummer or fife 
I lost an arm, my buddy lost his life

I came home and moved on
But forever was changed
The perils of war in my memory remained
I don’t really say much, I don’t feel like I can
But I left home a child, and came home a man

There are thousands like me
Thousands more who are gone
But their legacy lives as time marches on
White crosses in rows
And names carved in queue
Remind us of what these brave souls had to do

I’m part of a fellowship, a strong mighty band
Of each man and each woman
Who has served this great land
And when Old Glory waves
I stand proud, I stand tall 
I helped keep her flying over you, over all

I AM A VETERAN