by Rhiannon Kutzer
The heartbeat of OCF is the small group fellowship, over 360 of them occurring throughout our nation and across the globe, including New Zealand, Korea and Norway. As they move throughout their careers, OCFers can utilize OCF’s link up system to look up and hook up with existing small groups. Whether they meet before/after duty, or during lunch, OCFers come together in Christ’s to support and encourage each through Bible study and prayer.
Navy submarine lieutenant Mark Treen believes God has given him a rare opportunity to be a missionary to those he lives, works and eats with in the ocean depths, an environment where the difficulties crew members face are more acute. The challenge, he says, is “letting Christ’s light shine when you feel like you’re surrounded by darkness,” and instead trusting in Christ’s promise that, “the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say” (Luke 12:12).
And just as submariners have unique opportunities to illuminate Jesus Christ to others in the ocean depths, opportunities abound as well once back on dry land.
Up in the often-overcast Pacific Northwest, Naval Base Kitsap OCF is a single snapshot of all the other OCF small groups whose military, civilian and family member attendees balance their ever changing, demanding schedules and constant deployments by regularly meeting for Bible study, and often times, meals.
These OCF small groups often instantly become both family and lifeline to the attendees. And when emergencies arise, the small group members often rally together to provide meals, take care of children, and provide comfort and encouragement through prayer, Scripture and time spent together.
Every Wednesday, Naval Base Kitsap OCFers gather at the aptly named Anchor of Hope church, filling long tables with delicious smelling casseroles, crockpots and salads. The kids eat quickly so they can get back to playing and chasing each other. The adults enjoy the meal while chatting, laughing, and catching up on one another’s lives, relishing the chance to finally rest from work or taking care of kids all day. Then they settle down to learn from God’s Word and pray together. They are also putting to feet the exhortation from a recent Bible study, “faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead” (James 2:17).
Group leaders LT Flip and Christie Johnson opened Purpose Boutique, a women’s clothing store ministering to both local and global physical needs. The “how you shop can change a life” store features artisanal clothing and accessories created by impoverished women, produced by companies who educate and help them earn livable wages. A portion of the shop’s net proceeds is donated to charities helping women and children escape human trafficking.
The boutique also hosted a study of The Purpose Driven Life in an effort to reach local, unchurched women with the Gospel.
Other outreach activities include with a local food bank, Operation Christmas Child, and a Habitat for Humanity project, where this past summer nearly a dozen Naval and Coast Guard officers, spouses and kids helped build a house. “There was a lot of manual labor, but just to be able to meet the gal that was going to be living there made it more meaningful,” said leader Jennifer Corbin. “It was just a neat experience to be a part of.”
In the life of the active duty family, it can be easy to focus solely on service to our country, but Christ reminds us that our service to Him includes those closest to us: our shipmates, our neighbors and our communities in need, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).
Rhiannon is a classical home educator, proud Navy wife, and freelance writer: primarily about education, parenting issues and homeschooling. When her hilarious kids aren’t keeping her busy, she can be found blogging at www.homeschoolfamilyculture.com.