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John Ahern

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My story of faith begins simply enough.

I joined the military to do “something different” than my friends from high school. I enlisted in the US Navy in 1986 and was stationed on board an aircraft carrier after I finished my training. Two sailors on board my ship, the USS America, noticed me sitting alone and invited me to a meal and a Bible study at the Military Christian Center operated by Missions To Military. I agreed to go with them, and that one decision changed the direction of my entire life.

The Lord used the warmth and friendliness of those at MTM to bring me back to the Center many times. I heard the Gospel at MTM, trusted Christ as my Savior, and the Lord transformed my whole life. I began the MTM Discipleship Program and the Lord used this time of discipleship to ground me in the Word of God and create a hunger for understanding His Word. 

John & Sheila AhernI was challenged to consider going to Bible College, something I had never heard of, but once the idea was planted, my interest in further studies grew and grew. I only had one small problem.  I wasn’t sure if God wanted me to go to Bible College or reenlist in the Navy. I had opted out of the GI Bill when I had joined the Navy, but while I was on my last cruise before my enlistment was up, I was given a second chance to sign up for it and I did, knowing the Lord might have this as a possibility in my future.  I really wrestled with this decision my whole deployment, choosing between the Navy or Bible College. I prayed and asked to Lord for one thing. To make His will obvious, with out a doubt, what He wanted me to do. I came back from my cruise, cashed all my paychecks and headed to the PSD office to finalize the details of my current enlistment. Standing in the PSD office came the moment of no return; “Ahern, what are you going to do?”  And I knew, in that moment, I really wanted to go to Bible college. 

The second chance at signing up for the GI Bill didn’t exactly go as planned, some mix up in the paperwork caused them not to take my portion out of my paycheck and I was still ineligible, and I related as much to the PSD officer.  He did some checking and agreed, I didn’t have the GI Bill. Yet, something in him caused him to go the extra mile for me and he made a phone call to Washington. He related my case to the person on the other end of the phone and there seemed to be little hope for the GI Bill and John Ahern! The person in Washington said that there was no way I could get the GI Bill, unless I had $1200 cash on hand at that exact moment. I reached in my pocket and started laying stacks of money on the counter, much to the disbelief of the PSD officer, until the exact sum had been reached. I now had the GI Bill!

I left active duty in the Navy and enrolled at Piedmont International University and continued my military career as a reservist. The Lord used my studies at Piedmont and my military service to lead me into full time ministry with Missions To Military, back to where my story of faith began, and where I hope to help others begin their story of faith.