How a Navy Chaplain’s wife supports her husband
By Chaplain Jonathan Stephens, US Navy, 7th Fleet, Yokosuka, Japan
When her first child was only six months old, Melissa’s husband received orders to the Forward Deployed Naval Forces (FDNF) in the 7th Fleet at Yokosuka, Japan. After the three of them arrived, it was only two weeks before he had to be flown out to sea. With their household goods being delivered to their new home on that same day, she stood in the doorway holding their baby as she kissed him goodbye and asked “how can I pray for you?”
Things did not slow down for Melissa and her family the entirety of their tour. They did not get to do all the traveling that they had hoped to do or experience the culture like they imagined they would. When her husband was out, her distance from the US and the opposite time zones even made relying on extended family for support difficult. Between deployments they were blessed to have another little girl and when the baby was only two weeks old, Daddy had to leave again. Her husband would be absent more than he was present for the first year of their new baby’s life. With her husband being deployed for two out of three Christmases, birthdays and anniversaries, this was fertile ground for bitterness to grow but she did not let it.
Melissa had a firm belief that God had called them to this ministry for a purpose. As her husband would communicate the challenges, she would partner with him in prayer and as he would share with her the testimonies of how God had answered, she would join in the celebration. Of course this was not hidden from God’s eyes but it was also not hidden from the eyes of their little girls. Instead of focusing on the time that he was away, Melissa would celebrate the time that he was present. She would make a big deal about Daddy coming home from work, or Daddy calling on the phone… so, deployment homecomings… were nothing short of epic!
Their now 3-year-old daughter makes up songs about her “so handsome Dad” and sets aside her favorite dress “for when Daddy comes home.” When their now 15-month-old daughter gets sad she points at the iPad and says “DaDa” because looking at pictures of her Dad is her go-to comfort (besides her “Pacie.”) How could their Daddy be their hero when they hardly know him and rarely see him? It’s because of a wife who chooses celebration over bitterness and chooses faith over despair. Children learn to live life through what they observe, and this Dad owes his hero’s status to a wife who treats him like he is one and has convinced his daughters that it is true. – Thank you, Melissa!
Join me in praying for Jonathan and Melissa as they await the soon arrival of baby number three! Include the various families of CBAmerica’s 200 chaplains scattered around the Globe.