Sharing the Gospel in the barracks: Student raises funds for military ministry training

Veda Birch is from a military family. Her father has been a chaplain for years — she understands the culture, the struggles and the lifestyle. She set her sights on pursuing a degree in psychology from Liberty University to become a therapist for military spouses. While Birch will be graduating from Liberty this May with a bachelor’s in psychology, God has more in store for her future career.

“Before I went to college, my parents were stationed in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, which is a huge marine base. At that point I wasn’t really passionate about the Marines,” Birch said. “I was more passionate about the brokenness. I saw divorces. I saw dads that were gone for eight months and kids that struggled, and a lot of suicide is prevalent.”

Birch felt the call to help these people tugging at her heart, but she struggled to understand where God was directing her. Then, the summer before her junior year, she did an internship in Florida that shifted her worldview.

“While I was at that church in Florida, I was seeing that the Lord was breaking my heart for the nation and showing me his heart for the lost, and I assumed that meant international missions,” Birch said. “I definitely think he used that to show me like, ‘Yes, my heart is for all lost people — every tribe, nation, tongue.’”

Photo provided

Birch signed up for a mission trip to Romania for the summer of 2023, but she still couldn’t shake the feeling of needing to work with the military long-term.

During Liberty’s fall 2022 Global Focus Week, Birch saw a pop-up for CRU Military, which is a national and international military ministry that meets the spiritual needs of everyone from cadets and veterans to spouses and families. After connecting with one of CRU’s representatives, Birch began pursuing her military ministry aspirations. 

“I said, ‘Listen, I know I’m passionate about this, but the only place I want to be is Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. I can’t lose that,’” Birch said. “She said, ‘Well, we don’t have someone who has started this ministry there yet, so honestly right now we couldn’t send you to Camp Lejeune.’ And I thought, ‘Okay, another closed door.’”

Birch went forward with her Romania mission only to find herself frustrated that even though she followed the push to international mission work, it didn’t feel right.

“I would be so frustrated doing street evangelism and having to have a 12-year-old girl translate for me. I just kept thinking, ‘if only I knew the language,’” Birch said. “I just found (God) saying, ‘No, Veda, where I want you to be, you know the language. You have those experiences. You understand that culture. You lived it.’”

As her mission group was leaving Romania, Birch couldn’t get the idea of CRU out of her head, so she contacted the representative she met at Global Focus Week back in the fall of 2022. 

Photo provided

“I said, ‘Hey, I want to talk more,’” Birch said. “And she said, ‘Veda, today a family committed to selling everything and moving their four kids to Camp Lejeune to start a ministry there, and now we need a female director of ministry for the Marines.’”

She finally found her ticket into CRU, and the quicker Birch’s training could get scheduled the better, as missionaries can’t “support raise” (raise money through churches and individuals) for their yearly salary until their training is complete. Birch’s training was scheduled for the winter of 2023, so she could support raise before her graduation in May. But once again, Birch experienced another set of obstacles.

After the winter training was suddenly cancelled, Birch’s training got pushed back to July; but upon having to resubmit an application for the training, she missed the deadline by a week.

“I said, ‘Okay, you’re going in September.’ But she emails me last week and says, ‘Hey, so we expedited your application. We’ve never done that before, but we want you to go to the July training,’” Birch said. “And so now I have three weeks to raise my funds to get to Florida. Jesus keeps saying, ‘Will you trust me?’” 

Birch is in the process of raising funds (her Venmo is @Veda-Birch) for her CRU training in Orlando, Florida, where she will be learning how to lead Bible studies in women’s barracks, host pop-up booths, evangelize to marines and work under the chaplain to share the gospel.

“The goal of CRU is we do a lot of in-home discipleship,” Birch said. “We meet them where they’re at in the barracks. We go to people who had never stepped into the church building. My heart has always been that if the military is saved, we have built-in missionaries that go all over the world.”

Napier is a feature reporter for the Liberty Champion

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