In 1994, I deployed to Haiti with the 28th Combat Support Hospital in support of Operation Uphold Democracy. Physicians were deployed from various reserve units throughout the U.S. to give us the full complement of doctors that we needed. One doctor, a surgeon, brought his guitar on the deployment. He would play his guitar to reduce stress and relax. He also volunteered to play his guitar during our Sunday worship services.
During the weeks and months that we were deployed, we became good friends. One day, he confided in me that he was addicted to prescription drugs. His doctor had given him medication to help him with back pain, but over time, he began to depend on the drugs more and more.
We talked about this issue on several occasions. I spoke with him about what he was doing to his body; the danger that he was to his patients; and as a “man of faith,” the harm that he was doing to his walk with God. He began to see clearly that his addiction was contrary to God’s will for his life.
I encouraged him to confess his sin to God, confess his wrong doing to the hospital commander, and get some physical and psychological counseling. I told him that he would probably lose his job as a doctor in the military, but if that was the case, so be it. He was making peace with God and getting the help that he needed.
He confessed his sin to God, he confessed his wrongdoing to the hospital commander, and he was removed from being a military doctor. However, he was at peace with God.
Following the deployment, we went our separate ways and I did not hear from him for several years. Then one day he contacted me and told me that he would be visiting Washington, D.C., where I was stationed. He asked if we could meet for lunch.
When we met, he told me the rest of the story. After leaving Haiti, he enrolled in a drug rehab program, God healed him of his addiction, and he was working in a civilian hospital. He also shared with me that he was serving in a local church and that he was at peace with God.
I have thought of him over the years. Here was a believer who was sucked into an addiction through prescription pain medication. But, instead of asking for help, he hid his problem and his problem got worse. Because we were deployed together, I was able to walk him through what was happening in his life and he was able to find his way to healing for his body and his spirit. I thank God for restoring this man and giving him peace. Discipling another person can mean speaking the truth in love. Being discipled can mean hearing and accepting that truth.
“Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ” (Ephesians 4:15).
Chaplain (Colonel) Donald L. Wilson, United States Army retired, is currently serving as the military chaplain endorser for the Church of the Nazarene.