God moved powerfully in the final week of Operation Heal Our Patriots

Most of Canadian contingent turn their lives to Christ

OHOP Learn MoreWhen 10 Canadian military couples arrived at the Samaritan Lodge in Port Alsworth, Alaska in mid-September, they were unsure of each other, unsure of their marriages, unsure of their futures, and in many cases, unsure of a God that seemed distant or even non-existent.

Only four days later, the couples sought out the Operation Heal Our Patriots staff and volunteers during breakfast to tearfully describe how their lives and their view of their marriages had been transformed by the love, care, and biblical guidance they’d received from everyone at the lodge.

“I haven’t hugged or been hugged by as many people in the last year as I have in the past few days here,” one of the military wives said with a thankful laugh.

Their week in Alaska was about more, however, than merely experiencing the love shown by staff and volunteers. It was ultimately about experiencing the love of God.

Thirteen of the 20 Canadians eventually accepted Christ as their Savior and asked to be baptized. Five of the 10 couples also rededicated their marriages amidst their new faith and foundation in Jesus.

One by one that morning during breakfast, while Operation Heal Our Patriots staff and volunteers listened, most of the Canadians described how they were turning­ to--or returning to—a faith in Jesus Christ.

Jonathon Penman, an infantry based out North Bay Ont., said he’ll always be a soldier, but now with Christ in his life, he’ll be a soldier in the ‘Good Fight.’

Veteran Rich Wilson shared with everyone how he’d given his life to Christ the night before while talking with one of the Operation Heal Our Patriots chaplains during dinner. He joked that not many things can tear him away from a meal, but he knew this was a conversation that couldn’t wait! While conversations and laughter continued at surrounding dinner tables, the chaplains and others at the soldier’s table bowed their heads, and laid hands on the veteran as he was quietly led in a prayer to welcome Christ into his life.

During their week in Alaska, the Canadian military couples bonded closely together during a variety of outdoor activities—including hiking, fishing, kayaking and bear-watching. They also bonded during daily Bible-based marriage enrichment classes led by the chaplains.

One tradition at the Samaritan Lodge is a ‘polar plunge’ into the frigid waters of Lake Clark. This, too, was an example of the loving comradery the group shared as they laughed and encouraged each other to dive off the dock, then scramble out of the chilly water and into a sauna to warm themselves.

Baptism Testimonies

Baptism testimonies are an important part of the Operation Heal Our Patriots week.

All of the joy and laughter seemed almost too big for the little sauna building.  Chaplain James Fisher, or “Chaps”—who joined them in the polar plunge--encouraged each couple to remember these days and what they’d meant to all of them. He told the couples this was their first taste of a loving Christian community, and it should be cherished. It was clear that it will be.

Everyone at Samaritan Lodge was reminded during the week that we should never underestimate the power of God to work in the lives of those who seem least likely to know him, or care to know Him.  God will work through whoever He pleases, and whenever He pleases, to reach those who are far from Him.

On the final morning before the Canadians prepared to leave the lodge and begin their journey home, they stood shoulder-to-shoulder around a roaring fire on the shore of Lake Clarke. Each person offered an often tearful testimony of the difficult path that had led them to Alaska. Then, one by one, 13 of them were baptized in the chilly lake in an act of reverence and obedience to Christ.

Samaritan’s Purse President Franklin Graham and his wife Jane were there to join all of the Operation Heal Our Patriots staff and volunteers in congratulating the couples and praying for them.

The Canadians came to Alaska with hope and faith for a better tomorrow. And they found it.

Read a first hand account from the Operation Heal Our Patriots Canadian Week in Port Alsworth, Alaska

Ways you can help


Prayer is the most important gift you can give. Please keep these specific requests in your prayers: Ask God to protect our military personnel serving overseas. Pray for those service members who have been injured or wounded. Pray for the ministry of Operation Heal Our Patriots.


You can help bring a military couple to Samaritan Lodge Alaska for a life-changing retreat they desperately need and provide ongoing follow-up care for years to come. Your gift helps provide these husbands and wives the spiritual refreshment, physical renewal, and marriage enrichment they critically need. Donate Here