The US Military Academy at West Point was one of 16 new campuses that FOCUS added to its missionary program in the academic year 2015-2016. Justin Telthorst, the first FOCUS missionary to serve at West Point, shared this account of a recent retreat with his mission partners.
A week ago about 50 cadets, 15 students from SUNY New Paltz, a handful of officers and 4 missionaries came together just across the river from West Point for the semesterly retreat put on by the Catholics at West Point. While I enjoyed the retreat last semester, it was amazing to see how the cadets have really come to know Jesus over the course of the year. It was inspiring to hear many of the cadets I am good friends with speak to their peers about the call to sainthood, the importance of community, why we should read the bible, and the challenge of living a Christian life.
A favorite quote from the weekend came from the first talk when Shannon (a “YUC” or sophomore) was talking about how God loves us. “He doesn’t just love everyone generally like an atom bomb. He loves each of us specifically. Jesus loves like a sniper!” This got a good laugh from the cadets!
One of the best aspects of the retreat is the opportunity to hear the stories from several officers who are currently stationed at West Point. Hearing about balancing family life, deployments, the difficulties of serving in the Middle East, and seeing how they have encountered and walked with God through it all is inspiring and has given me (as a civilian) a whole new look at what military life is really like. It truly is a gift to be able to have these officers as examples of Godly men in the military, and I am fortunate to be able to walk with these cadets in their own faith journey.
Justin Telthorst will be returning for his second year at West Point, and his third year as a FOCUS missionary. You can read more about modern missionaries in America in this blog post, which highlights Justin’s work at West Point.