#22PUSHUPCHALLENGE

You’ve probably seen your Facebook and Instagram walls plastered with the #22PUSHUPCHALLENGE videos. If you haven’t then Google it. The idea behind it is a good one, and that is, to raise awareness for military veterans who return from war and commit suicide. On average in America, 22 veterans and 1 active service member take their lives each day.

When it comes to killing Australian soldiers, suicide is the number one cause. In the 13 year war in Afghanistan the number of Australian’s killed numbered 42. According to this article in The Australian, in 2016 alone there have been 41 Australian Defence Force suicides. Although unconfirmed, I’ve heard talk of 3 more since that article was written on the 14th August 2016.

In 2010 I deployed to Afghanistan as a medic. On our 9 month rotation 6 soldiers from our battle-group were sent home having been killed in action. Since then a further 6 soldiers from that same group have taken their own lives.

Since East Timor in 1999, some 249 soldiers are known to have committed suicide. That means for Australian Defence Force personnel you’re ~5 times more likely to take your own life than be killed in active combat. capture

In light of these tragic and abhorrent statistics, is ‘awareness raising’ really doing anything of substance? Or does more need to be done? Sure, raising awareness is a step in the right direction, maybe even an essential step on the pathway to reform, but what can we do now? What can you do now?

  1. Educate yourself on this topic. Research and know the statistics. Learn about the struggles that soldiers go through when assimilating back into the Australian culture after being in a combat zone. Teach yourself about PTSD and Moral Injury and find out why they’re so debilitating. Put aside 15 minutes to follow and read some of the links to articles in this blog post.
  2. Prepare yourself to encounter someone who is contemplating suicide.
    What will you do? How will you respond? With mental illness being such a prevalent part of our society it’s more than likely that you’ll be close to someone who struggles in this area.
  3. Check out, and support groups that actively support veterans in this area.
    Soldier On, Mates 4 Mates, and Young Diggers… are a few amongst many. You could also look at and follow the Australian Veterans Suicide Register on Facebook. Better than just checking these groups out, your could offer money or even time to support these groups and the countless numbers of veterans who flock to them.
  4. Finally, if you’re person who prays… pray.
    Pray for the well-being of those who have fought for your well-being. Pray that God would intervene in life threatening situations, creating a path out of distress and despair. Pray that God would rescue broken soldiers to himself in miraculous ways. Pray that God would give you a heart for the hurting and the lost. Pray that God would heal and restore the mental stability that, for many soldiers, was sacrificed for our nation.

 

Looking Beyond the Church

Recently I’ve been pretty discouraged by the ‘church’. You don’t have to dig very deep to discover misbehavior and scandals. You don’t have to spend very long on google to realise that the wider Christian church (not speaking about specific denominations) has delivered more than its fair share of injustice to people it should be caring for.

Image result for church old

I caught myself on more than one occasion telling people that they should go to church, because the church has the answers for their problems. I’ve told several people recently that what they’ll find at church will help them through their situation.

And this is only partially true. The church as an organisation only has so much influence in people’s lives. And the longer one spends involved in the church, the more chance they’ll have of being let down by it. At the end of the day, the church is just a sub-community within a wider culture of broken people who will, given enough time, inevitably hurt each other.

However, the most excellent thing about Christian churches, is what you will (hopefully) find there. Hopefully your local church talks about Jesus. Jesus the teacher. Jesus the final prophet. Jesus the perfect priest. Jesus the King. Jesus the Son of God. Jesus who is supreme over all other historical figures. Hopefully your local church talks about Jesus who was raised to life and lives today.

Image result for supremacy of christ

The author of Hebrews reminds people about Jesus:

In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs.

Hebrews 1:1-4

Jesus delivers God’s word more clearly than anyone else. Jesus is the exact representation of God. That is, he is indistinguishable from God. He is God. He sustains all things (including our faith and perseverance) by his word. And he provides to us access to heaven. He knows that our boarding pass is heading in the opposite direction to heaven… so he trades passes with us so we are bound for heaven.

So instead of telling people their problems will be solved by going to church… I should be telling them that when they choose to follow Jesus they will be given the tools to either move beyond or persevere through the struggles this life has to offer.

For more information on Jesus you can check out this website: THINK LIFE THINK JESUS