by Joni Astrup
Area churches are being asked to pray for service people and their families on Sunday, Aug. 19.
That day is Beyond the Yellow Ribbon Sunday, and it kicks off a week that culminates Thursday, Aug. 23, with a ceremony certifying Elk River as a Beyond the Yellow Ribbon city. Gov. Mark Dayton and Brigadier Gen. Robert Cayton are among the dignitaries who will attend the certification ceremony, scheduled to be held before the 7 p.m. concert at River’s Edge Commons Park in downtown Elk River.
Beyond the Yellow Ribbon is an effort to reach out to soldiers and their families dealing with deployment.
“The essence of this endeavor is to recognize and express our gratitude for the service these active service men and women and their families are devoting for our freedom,” said Don Heinzman, chair of the local Yellow Ribbon steering committee.
In one example locally, the wife of a deployed soldier in Otsego got her broken water heater fixed by a Beyond the Yellow Ribbon volunteer.
Meanwhile, Henry Griner of Elk River has composed a prayer for service people and their families that churches may choose to use on Aug. 19. He and his wife, Leslie, have a son serving in Afghanistan.
Griner said if churches want to use that prayer or if they want to have somebody do their own and just use it as a guideline, it’s up to them.
Griner is a member of the faith-based committee of the Beyond the Yellow Ribbon effort.
He sees Beyond the Yellow Ribbon as a way to support people in the military and their families.
He served in the Air National Guard from 1968-1974. His son, Nathaniel, is in the Army and currently on his second deployment in Afghanistan.
“We just keep praying protection for him,” Henry said. “It’s not fun to think of him being in a place where people are taking shots at you.”
Nathaniel is a 2003 graduate of Elk River High School and joined the Army that year. He was in Germany for about six years and currently is stationed out of Fort Carson in Colorado Springs, Co. His wife, Nadine, is originally from Germany and they have one daughter, Zarah.
Henry said his son is looking at making the Army his career.
Here is the prayer Henry Griner composed for Aug. 19:
Heavenly Father, we come before you today to seek your blessings of support and encouragement to those family members who have given so much of their time and themselves in support of the freedoms we have in our country. Both for those who are serving away from home and those who stay at home to serve their families while their loved ones are far away from home, we ask for your blessings.
As part of the community of faith in our area we join with others today to honor those servicemen and servicewomen by providing our support through the efforts of our local chapter of Beyond the Yellow Ribbon.
We ask you, Father, to stir the hearts of the business owners in our community who can provide help with jobs, financial resources and other support needed for our families who are sacrificing so much to serve in our armed forces.
We ask you, Father, to stir up individuals within our community with a call to be part of our local Beyond the Yellow Ribbon chapter and to offer their help to counsel, comfort and come along side hurting family members to share the love of God with them and bear together the burdens they carry during a time of separation.
We ask you, Father, for a release of financial resources within our community that can be used to aid our military families when their own finances are low and they need help to care for their children.
And, Father, we do ask you to protect those who serve away from home to keep them from harm and set your angels around them as a shield from the enemy’s attacks and return them safely home to their loved ones.
Thank you, Heavenly Father, for calling together members of our community to organize and start our local Beyond the Yellow Ribbon chapter. We ask your wisdom, encouragement and strength for them as they fulfill your calling.
Today as a community of faith we commit these plans into your care in the name of Your Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen