By Kari Hawkins, USAG RedstoneSeptember 25, 2009
While the Army defends freedoms around the world, God is working in the hearts of people from all walks of life who hunger for justice, compassion and a promise for a better future.
That's what Betsy Brown is witnessing as she travels throughout western and eastern Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
"Pray for our enemies," she urged members of the Protestant Women of the Chapel during a presentation Sept. 10. "God is touching the hearts of so many who hate us. In Africa, Morocco, Libya, Algeria and all over the world, Jesus is making himself known ... Pray that they have dreams and visions, because they are."
Brown, an international Christian worship leader, speaker and teacher, formed Heartsong Ministries in 1979. Since then, she has traveled throughout the U.S. and the world to share the message of Christ and to minister to U.S. servicemembers. In her mission work, she ministered behind the Iron Curtain in Germany when communism was falling, among Russian military in Siberia, and on the battlefields of Iraq to both U.S. military and Iraqi citizens. She has co-led prayer walks on the islands of Indonesia, assisted with tsunami relief work in Indonesia in 2005, spent Christmas 2004 and Thanksgiving 2007 in Iraq ministering to U.S. military, traveled to Syria several times to assist with aid to more than 2 million Iraqi refugees, and taught and worshipped with military wives involved in PWOC around the world.
She has seen for herself how the power of Jesus and the Christian message of love and forgiveness have changed the lives of radical extremists.
As she spoke to PWOC members in Bicentennial Chapel, Brown said she has repeatedly heard testimonials similar to what a refugee living in a Palestinian Refugee Camp in Lebanon once told her about his transformation.
"He said 'I grew up to hate Christians. I killed them. But a friend brought me to a meeting where I learned about Jesus. I heard some things I've never heard before. I heard about loving your enemies. I keep sneaking back to hear more. One month ago, I met some Jews that followed Jesus, too. Now, I love Christians. I love Jesus,'" Brown recalled.
Brown said that in the midst of war, famine, poverty, natural disasters and destruction, there is a transformation going on in the hearts of people. And she urged PWOC members to use the brokenness of the world to bring people to God.
"The most difficult situations are an opportunity for Jesus," she said. "The challenge is: Will you engage' It's easy to sit back and say 'It's good that God has called you to that.' He has called all of us to engage, to engage in his kingdom that is happening now."
Brown showed pictures during her presentation of Christian families in the Middle East who have suffered the tragedies of murders, kidnappings, robberies, rapes, molestations and beatings. She shared their stories of being threatened with death if they did not convert. She talked about a "God school" that she helped start in Iraq for Christian children.
At the school, about 150 children ages 3 to 19 receive a hot meal, go to lessons and to chapel, and learn about reconciliation and forgiveness.
"It makes me weep because I know some of the stories of these children and now they are learning about Jesus' love and forgiveness," Brown said. "They are in the loving arms of this church and learning about forgiveness. We are teaching them that 'God will deal with those evil men and as you forgive God will heal your heart.'"
Christians should be ready in all situations and at every opportunity to share the word of God, she said.
"I am absolutely convinced that the gift of Jesus is the answer for every situation ... Christians should be prepared to be the light in the middle of the darkness," Brown said. "It is an incredible moment to speak God's truth in the middle of chaos."
Brown began her military missionary work in 1981, when a cousin serving in the Army as a band director invited her to minister to Soldiers in Germany.
It wasn't long before "military families became my family. It was a good fit for me. They are so appreciative of someone coming over where they are serving and encouraging them. Wherever I go, I get really close to the military and the women who support their husbands who are deployed," she said.
Brown is drawn to Soldiers and their families because of the sacrifices they make for freedom. She is compelled to provide them with support and to share God's love with them. In her work, she also provides support to military chaplains.
"The body of Christ is present in the military. I carry a powerful tool to them - the love of Christ and the opportunity to worship," she said.
"And, whether I am ministering to Soldiers or involved in a relief mission, I know that no matter how big the crisis, each crisis always provides an opportunity for God to show up."