Note from Miriam:
I first met Christy in Colorado Springs, Summer 2012. She had just moved into her new home with sons Landon, Caleb, and Joel, ages 12 to 3. She hosted a group of military widows. I had the humbling honor of listening to their stories, and their unique needs. Yes, we laughed, cried, and found we had some things in common, though the military experience is truly unique. At her lower level, these young widow’s children romped and played. The city was under pre-evacuation warnings due to wild fires, but we took little notice. We were connecting, I was learning, and they were eager to share so others could gain comfort from their journeys. Here’s a bit of Christy’s story.
When Christy Goetz’s pastor husband, Dale, first mentioned the idea of becoming a military chaplain, she said no: “I love you! I don’t want you going over there and getting killed.” But when Dale broached the subject again six months later, she responded, “Honey, if this is what you want to do, who am I to stand in God’s way?” He signed up in 2004.
On Wednesday, August 4, 2010, Chaplain Capt. Dale Goetz sent the following e-mail to Christy in Colorado Springs:
I’m now in Mosel, Iraq and don’t have the same communication flexibility I had a few days ago.
Christ is the focus. I was able to lead another soldier to Jesus last night. It was cool. I am all pumped up. God is answering prayer in awesome ways. The man had attended a parochial school and church, and I explained to him the substitution of Christ for our sins, and it clicked for him. Only 299 soldiers to go! I’m asking big and will let God decide how many he’s going to save. I aim to be faithful in sharing Jesus. I’ve got a song in my heart through the day and night. God has given me boldness unlike ever before. I’m pumped just typing about it.
I will try to send an e-mail every few days while I’m here, but I’ll be moving forward to another place in a couple days or weeks. God knows when that will happen.
People think I’m crazy or stupid for praying for a six-month deployment, and I keep reminding them never to doubt God.
This was Dale’s second deployment to Afghanistan and one that he had volunteered for. His enthusiasm to share God’s Word with the troops, as evident in this e-mail, had been what compelled this former pastor to become a chaplain in 2004. Though military life wasn’t easy, both Dale and Christy were convinced this was exactly where God wanted them to be.
Prayer: Lord, help me keep my focus on You, and to trust in Your plan for my life.
“You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord is the Rock eternal.” ~Isaiah 26:3-4
The Best Place to Be
“I’ll be moving forward to another place in a couple of days or weeks,” Dale had e-mailed Christy. “God knows when that will happen.”
On August 30, 2010, Chaplain Dale Goetz did move forward—to heaven. He was killed by a roadside bomb, making him the first chaplain to be killed in the line of duty since the Vietnam War.
When the news met Christy at her home, she opened the door to find a chaplain in blue and a soldier in green. Her knees barely held her up.
“Mrs. Goetz?” one began.
“May we come in?”
A moment passed while Christy grappled with what was happening. “Can I touch you?” She touched them to make sure they were really there. “Is he gone?”
“The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away,” she said. “Blessed be the name of the Lord.”
Inside the house, they told her what happened. Her mind reeled, trying to imagine how she could possibly break the news to her two sons who would be arriving home from school shortly. (Her thirteen-month-old son was taking a nap.)
Ten-year-old Landon came in first with a cheerful “Hi, Mom!” Then, seeing the soldiers, he said, “Was Daddy killed?”
Moments later, eight-year-old Caleb came running in, stopped, and asked, “Daddy was killed?”
“Boys, I need to talk to you,” Christy said, pulling them close. “Where’s the best place to be?”
“Heaven,” they answered.
“That’s where Daddy is.”
Today Christy and her sons miss Dale intensely, but she still trusts in God’s plan. Before Dale deployed as they sat at the kitchen table, he had told her, “When it’s our time, it’s our time. And we need to live to the glory of God.”
And though she hated the idea of losing him, she agreed. “That is why we live,” she later said in a Focus on the Family radio broadcast. “To glorify God and enjoy him. And with all of the disappointments and losses that I have gone through, I can still say my God reigns, He lives, and He will see me through.”
Prayer: Lord, You reign. Help me trust You to provide in all circumstances.
“Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns.” ~Revelation 19:6
Message of Peace
After Dale’s death, a fellow military wife shared with Christy a comforting e-mail her husband had sent to her just after Dale was killed. He wrote, in part:
I talked with Dale yesterday . . . Something was different in him. I could feel something in the air when he was around. At first when he said hi, his eyes looked a little dark and down. Then we started talking about God’s Word and the goals that he had set for God’s glory. Three hundred soldiers to come to know him, ten to start to work for God in a six-month deployment. He began to glow with a huge smile on his face. When he was telling me, I felt like he was asking for help with this mission, as if he was not going to be able to finish it.
He was also very excited about the service he had held that Sunday morning. He had preached the gospel without holding back. He talked about what a real Christian is and how to really follow Jesus. Then he changed the subject and said that when we were in the States, it was easy to love and pray for our enemies. But being here, it’s not easy. How are we supposed to pray for the person who wants to kill you? The person who’s setting the bombs on the road for us to die? It’s hard. We need to pray for them to see Jesus. They are lost, and do not know what they are doing . . .
[Dale’s assistant] told me that Dale knew that he was not going to be home again. . . . In the morning before they got on the road, Dale told him that he felt at peace, and he knew everything would be okay. Hearing those words helped me a lot. I know that Dale is now in heaven and his family will be okay.
There is praise and worship for God in heaven, and now Dale is there enjoying every second. Today is a day of joy.
Prayer: Lord, remind me how full of joy my loved ones are who have passed into eternity in Your presence.
“Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready.” ~Revelation 19:7
(From Stories of Faith and Courage from the Home Front by Karen Whiting and Jocelyn Green. Copyright © 2012, God & Country Press, an imprint of AMG Publishers. All rights reserved.) Reprinted with permission