Marlene’s Report on the Pentagon Trip

post date: September 25, 2008

I asked Marlene to share her thoughts about our two-day visit to the Pentagon. Here’s what she wrote:

L-R Ray, Marlene, Skip Olson. We took this picture at the Welcome Center for Pentagon visitors.
So, you ask, what was your impression of the Keep Believing Ministries trip to the Pentagon? In a word – awesome! None of us slept well on Tuesday night anticipating the meeting on Wednesday morning. We had instructions to arrive at the Pentagon, go through initial security and meet our host, Col. Whiz Broome, the Pentagon Chaplain, at 6:15 AM. We arrived at about 5:50 – you can never be too early the first day  - bleary eyed but ready to go. Skip came about 6:00 AM with 3 boxes of An Anchor for the Soul. Right at 6:15 AM Col. Broome met us and we immediately felt at home. Bobby Little, Executive Director of the Christian Embassy, was also there and helped Col. Broome guide us through another security station where we received our “visitor” badges.

The Pentagon is an imposing structure from the outside and a maze of hallways on the inside. After our two visits I’m pretty sure I would not easily be able to find my way around. We went directly to the room where Ray was speaking for the Pentagon prayer breakfast. Skip and I stuffed Anchors with bookmarks and magnets and Ray chatted with Whiz and Bobby and started getting comfortable with the surroundings.

Ray introduced his topic – Why You Need Your Enemies and Your Enemies Need You – and you could immediately see a connection with the audience. Skip and I were sitting at the table with Whiz and Bobby and a 3-star general.  All the military personnel were in uniform – the Army guys in fatigues and boots. The only thing distinguishing the general from the others was a tab at the front of his uniform with 3 embroidered stars. He was friendly, unassuming, and listened very carefully to the message. My first breakfast with a three-star general!
The crowd listened intently and after the breakfast was over many came to get their books autographed or just chat. It was clear from the response that God was at work.
After breakfast Whiz and Bobby spent the morning with us showing us the Pentagon. We started with a meeting in the Chaplain’s office. What a gracious man. He regaled us with stories, told us about his passion for sharing Christ with Pentagon staff, and gave each of us his personal “coin.” He talked about being at the Pentagon when the plane struck on 9/11 and showed us the chapel that was built in memory of that event. The chapel sits almost directly where the plane first hit. Whiz was on duty but on the other side of the Pentagon when the plane hit. He told us of going to the site – at first being turned away because “they didn’t belong in there” and being allowed in after one of the guards said, “They’re chaplains. If anyone belongs in there, they do.”
We took a walking tour of part of the Pentagon. There are 17.5 miles of hallways! Thankfully, we did a fraction of that. We walked down the corridor where the Army Chief of Staff and other high ranking Army personnel have their offices. We had been walking down painted, plain off-white corridors…As we approached the Army Chief of Staff corridor we noticed a stark difference. The walls were paneled and decorated with Army division flags.  We toured a corridor dedicated to General McArthur (every 5-Star general has a corridor of his own). We saw the display of Presidents who served with the Navy. Our last stop on Wednesday was “Fort America” – a souvenir shop for tourists. We did our obligatory shopping and our morning was complete.
The whole time Whiz and Bobby were telling us about the opportunities they have to talk with Pentagon personnel about Jesus and encourage them to develop relationships with him. Both Whiz and Bobby were humble, gracious men with a passion for their work.
Wednesday evening we had dinner with Whiz and Bobby and their wives. I really enjoyed the female companionship! We listened to more stories and laughed and fellowshipped and continued to be impressed by what God is doing in the Pentagon through Whiz and Bobby and in other areas of Washington through Bobby and his staff at the Christian Embassy.
Bobby and his wife, Sheila, took us to the Pentagon 9/11 memorial after dinner. Each life lost is represented by a bench and reflecting pool. The benches facing the Pentagon are for lives lost in the Pentagon. The benches facing away toward the sky are for lives lost on the flight. The benches are arranged from the youngest – a 3 year old child – to the oldest – a 71 year old man. At night the reflecting light from each bench is very striking.
This morning was another 4:45 wake-up call and arrival at the Pentagon at 6:00 AM.  Security was easy – we were old pros!

At today’s breakfast, Ray spoke on “If I believe, then why do I Doubt?” Again, there was an obvious connection. The atmosphere in the room was quiet but intense. He was planning to speak on something else but decided at 6:30 to change topics. It was clear as he talked from the reactions on their faces that he was talking about what they needed to hear.

Before breakfast Bobby introduced me to a man whose wife is a breast cancer survivor. After Ray’s talk, that man came and poured out more of his story to me. Both he and his wife have battled cancer. Hers was not invasive but she has had two more bouts both including chemo – all in four years. We traded treatment stories, and I talked about how we had found God faithful. He listened very intently to everything I shared. All of the attendees were given Stealth Attack, Anchor and Why Did this Happen to Me.
The Pentagon is an imposing, fast-paced placed but God is definitely at work there. We all felt privileged to witness what is going on through their ministry and to come along side and help them a bit. We come away having been blessed and encouraged by what we saw!

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