“Sir, I have never believed in God before. Is it okay to ask for His help now? Will He hear me?” A young Marine recruit posed this question to Cru staff member Dave Eatman one Sunday morning at Parris Island, SC (Marine Corps Recruit Depot). The young man had not grown up in a Christian environment and had never believed there was a God. After being in boot camp, however, coming to worship services (to get away from his drill instructors for a couple of hours), hearing Biblical teaching and seeing fellow recruits drawing strength from God, he was ready to hear more.
After discussing issues this young man needed to understand, Dave had the privilege of leading him in a prayer of repentance, forgiveness, and submission to the lordship of Jesus Christ. It was the same commitment Dave had made years before when, as a young Marine recruit, he heard the Gospel message for the first time during the chapel services. His Staff Sergeant “watered” that message, regularly sharing Christ with Dave and many of his fellow Marines. (Ah! The impact of a godly man in uniform who takes the time to minister to the recruits coming along behind him!)
After Dave’s years of serving in the Marine Corps, while he was completing his last two years of an under- graduate degree at Liberty University (2012-2014), Dave and his family drove to Parris Island on Sundays to volunteer with the Cru Military Ministry in the recruit chapel services. In 2014 Dave and his wife Laurie became full-time staff members with Cru Military. In May 2018 they stepped up to direct the operations for all of the teams serving with the Cru Military Ministry in the Southeastern United States.
In addition to leading the existing ministry teams, Dave is responsible for volunteer recruitment and ministry expansion across the Southeast. He and Laurie hold weekly Bible studies in their home with military couples and offer personal, one-on-one discipleship/mentoring.
Our Cru Resources team works directly with the Cru Military Ministry to warehouse and distribute the resources specifically designed for use with military members, veterans, and their families. Four versions of the Spiritual Fitness Guidebook (for soldiers,sailors, airmen and marines) serve as the primary curriculum in basic training ministries. Each booklet opens with a riveting, true account from someone in that arm of the military who depended on the Lord while serving in perilous situations. Then thirty-five pages are packed full of concise, practical guidelines on how to know God personally and how to deal with spiritual battles, especially in the midst of military life and its demands. Dave Eatman reports, “We utilize over 10,000 booklets per year, per site, at each of the three basic training schools we serve.”
Cru Military Ministry also partners with the Cru Family Life Ministry to serve military attendees at “Weekend to Remember” marriage conferences. Dave shares, “We provide a Spiritual Fitness Guide to each military/veteran attendee with whom we connect at the conference. And at every conference where we have served, the Lord has brought us into contact with someone needing the Combat Trauma Healing Manual (help for dealing with PTSD) and has allowed us to ‘gift’ it to them.”
“We host a military breakout at each conference, where we introduce the military couples to Making Your Marriage Deployment Ready through a hands-on group exercise. We provide each couple with two copies of this resource and challenge them to take it back to their military community and utilize it to serve those with whom they serve.”
Over the past couple of years Dave has been working with the chaplains and volunteers to develop intentional follow-up to help recruits continue their journey with Christ. “Our vision, our prayer, is to ‘close the gap’ that exists in a soldier, sailor, airman, or marine’s first 12-18 months of military life, not only to introduce them to Christ in basic training, but also to disciple them throughout their entire, highly transient, initial training phase, until we can assist them in getting plugged into a Bible-believing local church at their first duty station.”
As we finish writing this letter over Memorial Day weekend, we soberly ponder the losses, sacrifices, and heavy demands on those who serve in our military. May we all remember to pray for them and for those who labor among them to direct them to new life and strength in Christ.