Church Adopts Marines, Sends Love - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

3/22/03 - Smith County

Church Adopts Marines, Sends Love

In East Texas, church members from Emerald Bay want to make sure the voices of protestors aren't the only ones troops hear about. They are sending more than just their love and support to their troops.

They started with a simple goal. Adopt a Marine battalion, and let them know they are supported.

"When the military is away from the continent and by themselves, they need to be remembered from those back home," organizer JoAn Bryant says.

What began with bibles quickly worked up to full care packages. The church thinks their messages have been heard.

"When I saw on national TV," JoAn says, "Those black bibles, the same kind we had ordered were in the field, my heart was just rewarded."

Since then, things have continued to grow. The church has made a major commitment to send their military not only comforts, but also messages of love and inspiration. For church member and World War II veteran Pancho Goddard, he knows exactly how much contact from home can mean.

"My mother wrote me a letter every day," Pancho says. "Mail call is a great part of the soldier's life when he's overseas. "

They've sent 23 care packages so far, costing more than six hundred dollars. A small price in the big picture, they say.

"The dollar cost is not what's important," JoAn says. "If you were overseas and you were in those boots, that's a little token. That's a drop of sand in the desert."

For the people of the Emerald Bay Community Church, it's knowing what their actions mean around the world that keep them going.

"It's great when you're way out in nowhere to know that someone back home is thinking about you," JoAn reads from a soldier's letter.

"Please keep on thinking about us, we are truly doing the right thing. Pass this on to all you know."

The next project from the church will be sending what they call "shields of strength" to their Marines. Those are dogs tags, engraved with verses of scripture. That way, they say, even on the move, soldiers can at least take parts of their bibles with them.

It's just their way of saying thank you.

Reid kerr (rkerr@kltv.com) reporting.

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