Evidence of God

Matt Wheeler and Memorial Day

That’s all it said.

I’m not one to open mass emails, but I clicked it. It was an email from Robert, my father-in-law, and he sent it to the whole church.

That’s odd, I thought. Robert isn’t one to send unscheduled emails. And this one, he sent to thousands of people.

My eyes skimmed the screen.

I have a friend in the Marines named Matt Wheeler. ..

…Matt is a strong Christian and a really cool guy.

…He’s married to Emilee. I married them a couple of years ago.

Oh yes, I remembered, they talked about that wedding. It was hot, but she was beautiful. He wore his uniform. They got married at the same place as my friend Lisa.

The email continued:

…Matt is an EOD Tech (Explosive Ordinance Disposal) for the Marines.

… Last month, Matt and Emilee had their first child, Jackson. Matt shipped out a week later.

He’ll be back in 6 months.

Last week, an IED (Improvised Explosive Device) hit Matt’s vehicle. No one was hurt; praise the Lord. I asked Matt to please stay in the vehicle for the next 6 months. He said he would like to, but he has to walk most of the time, that’s his job: disarming IEDs.

…I tell you this story so you will pray for Matt by name.

…I tell you this story hoping that you will Facebook Matt and Emilee Wheeler and tell them you’re praying for them.

…I tell you this story so you will continue to pray for our troops who serve our country around the world.

I sat in silence. Was a little surprised, really. This wasn’t an email that was sent to our family and friends. This was sent to the whole church.

I couldn’t help but think from Emilee’s perspective.

I bet she is so comforted to know thousands of people are praying for her husband. I bet she feels covered – bathed in prayer and protection.

My mind kept going down that road. I began to imagine if Chris had to go to war just a week after Daniel was born. And for just a moment, I caught a glimpse of what Emilee must have lived with for years.

What if he doesn’t get to come home?

After talking to Emilee, I realized the stress that weighed on her – the worry that plagued her – was carried strongly, with confidence. She had been with Matt through three of his four deployments. She knew the drill. She knew how to be a soldier’s wife.

But each time she returned from errands, her eyes still shot ahead to check their driveway for a black government car.

And each time her driveway was clear, she breathed deeply in relief.

Her husband was still alive.

After that email, thousands of people in San Antonio and across the world prayed for Matt. After Robert told the remaining congregation in person and through online services, thousands more.

Emilee was in shock. Night after night, for three deployments, she prayed for this man she loved.

Now thousands joined her.

A string of days did not pass without somebody stopping her in public to tell her they pray for Matt.

This man she loved. This man she married. This man her son would call daddy. This man who made his living disarming bombs. This man who walked daily among literal land mines. This man who she feared might one day be gone…

…was covered in prayer.

And one day, just three weeks after Matt’s name was sent out in prayer request, he turned around to help a Corp doctor – the very man who saved lives when bombs exploded – out of a canal. As Matt turned and stepped, an IED went off – right under his foot.

~~~

It was 6:30 a.m. on June 18th as Emilee captured baby Jackson cooing into her phone’s video camera. Emilee is a pro at documenting her life for Matt’s care packages.

Right in the middle, the video stopped recording.

Strange, she thought.

A call started coming through. It was Matt!

“Hey, Babe!” she said in her always-cheerful voice.

“I have some news,” he said. His voice caring, but sober.

“Okaaaaay,” Emilee prompted, hesitantly.

“I’m coming home.”

Her heart sank. Her hands shook.

There is only one reason soldiers come home.

He explained he was ok, lost no limbs – but his heel bone was shattered. He’d be coming home for surgery.

He couldn’t talk long, but would be sent to another hospital, where he would try to call again.

~~~

A few days later, Matt sat in his hospital room in Germany.

“Matt Wheeler?” the nurse asked.

I recognized your name. I go to Community Bible Church when I’m home. I got Robert’s email. I’ve been praying for you.

~~~

From Germany, Matt flew to San Diego – where they now wait for the swelling to go down to perform surgery.

Today, Matt not only gets to celebrate his country’s freedom on American soil,

matt gurney

he gets to see his wife

matt and em 1

hold his son

Matt and Jackson

be reminded of peace.

matt and j

And yesterday, he got to celebrate his wedding anniversary.

matt and em wedding

At home.

m emilee sign

I cannot believe in coincidence: That the timing of Robert’s email was accidental. He had been deployed four times with no single injury. Why now?

I cannot believe in chaos: When God’s people were actively praying, the bomb Matt stepped on malfunctioned, sending only 2 of the 10 pounds off in explosion.

Yes, the bomb that would have killed him was faulty.

I cannot believe in luck.

And I’ll warn you now, if you greet Emilee with mentions of “luck,” she’ll smile with true Southern politeness, but lock you with her big, brown eyes and let you know,

‘I prayed every day that the spirit of the Lord would surround him and protect him with every step he took. I know my prayers were answered. It was ^Him who protected my husband, not luck.

Where do they go from here?

“Well, that remains to be unseen,” Emilee said. “We expect he will be medically retired. Regardless, we asked God before this deployment to reveal to us His plans for our future. One of the options was to remain in the USMC and continue to do EOD. God has made it clear that Matt’s time doing that is over and we are prepared to move on to different things. Matt has explored the option of being an EOD instructor, or an inactive reservist and working with other Wounded Warriors and their families. We have been so blessed with all the organizations that take care of the wounded and their families- Wounded Warrior Project, Semper Fi Fund, etc. and Matt would really love to be able to ‘pay it forward’ and also reach out to other wounded and their families.”

If you prayed with us for Matt, please take a minute to thank the Lord for his evident answer.

And if you would please keep praying, this is what they have requested:

You know, when you go through something like this, its not all physical injuries. As you can imagine, Matthew has seen too much throughout his 4 deployments. Pray not only for his physical healing, but also that the Lord would take over His mind and comfort him. Sleeping is still difficult and nightmares are not uncommon.

Guidance that the Lord would use this event to further His kingdom and guide us as to what Matt’s next occupation should be. Pray for the guys left over there that they would be protected as well and that God would guide their hands and feet as they continue to serve our country defusing bombs.

For healing, strength, patience, and a reminded attitude of gratitude.

For the family of GySgt. Pate. He was a bomb tech who Matt worked with. This past Sunday, he was killed while answering a call to diffuse a bomb. His wife and two children now have to learn how to live life without their husband and daddy.

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40 thoughts on “Evidence of God

  1. Bre’anna-
    Thank you for taking the time this 4th to share the continuing story of God’s grace in the Wheeler’s lives. Thank you also for the reminder to pray for this family and the families of other soldiers who have surrendered so much to protect our freedom as Americans.

  2. Nothing further need be said. We continue to pray for Matt and his family. — Chuck & Carol Morton

  3. Hi, Bre’anna. I’m Emilee’s mom. Thank you for capturing their story. I knew when Robert sent out that Memorial Day e-mail that we were in for something. It scared me that Robert felt led to summon that kind of prayer support. After all, he never sends out e-mails like that. I left it in God’s hands but knew I needed to prepare myself for what was to come or I should remind myself after an uneventful deployment that surely there had been a miracle that protected Matt even if we weren’t aware that it occurred. No matter what, I knew those prayers would not be wasted. Praise God for the power of prayer and for those prayer warriors who have lifted and continue to lift Emilee, Matt and baby Jackson in prayer. They have a journey ahead of them but they have the right perspective. What happened was nothing short of a miracle. God is our provider and refuge!

    1. Deb, what a story your children have. It gave me goosebumps and lumps in my throat the whole time I wrote it. Amazing how God prompts us to do things, and lets us know when to prepare for an event. God bless you, Deb. (PS – your grandson couldn’t be ANY cuter.)

      1. Bre’anna: this is from Emilee’s dad. I don’t know if you were at this past Sunday’s 11:00 a.m. service but your dad honored Ryan Blanck, the young man who makes prosthetics for the Wounded Warriors at the Center For The Intrepid at Ft. Sam. Ryan and his wife, both strong Christians, visited CBC at the invite of Matt who has been receiving wonderful support from Ryan. Even if you weren’t there, you probably heard you dad introduced Ryan to the congregation and they gave him a standing “o”. I didn’t get a chance to talk to Ryan afterwards, so I just sent an email to him thanking him for all his loving care, telling him I hoped he wasn’t too embarrassed Sunday, and I included a link to your July 4th blog entry about Emi and Matt. So….naturally…I read the blog yet again. More tears….they come every time I read it. Matt and Emi are back in California with their beautiful Baby Jackson, but will be back next month. There will be a video shown at the Easter services about them; hope I get to see a preview ahead of time so my playing in the orchestra won’t get drowned out by my tears.
        Thanks again for you prayers and support.
        Bert Neville

  4. It has been such a joy to be a tiny part of all this by praying for Matt. God is an amazing and miraculous God.
    Might I link to this post on my blog Bre’anna?
    I didn’t know you had a blog (I’m sorry about that!), but you write so beautifully. A precious gift.

  5. Bre’anna,
    As a member of CBC AND the CBC prayer team, I, too, felt a shiver of “God movement” when I read that highly out-of-the-ordinary e-mail from Robert. (He and Julie made a highly out-of-the-ordinary visit to the hospital to see me in the Fall of 2008, so I KNOW this man of God to trust and MOVE when THE Spirit tells him to move!)

    This story of Robert’s prayer request for Matt is a beautiful picture of how our obedience can TRULY reach THOUSANDS, take VERY little effort and/or time on our part, and yet, can make MONUMENTAL differences in the lives of God’s people! Obedience is KEY!!! In my classroom, I say, (and my students join me!)”Obey right away, ALL the way, EVERY day.” This is how we should respond to the nudging of the Holy Spirit! If we are in a right relationship with God, we can be confident the “nudgings” we are feeling are from above.

    I am SO happy Matt is home. I am aching and praying for the family of the soldier who took his place…

    On a related note, my son-in-love/law recently returned from his second tour of duty in Iraq. It is my belief that my daughter’s “battle,” though different from his during deployments, is equally difficult and painful. I’ve been praying for a heightened awareness of the “battle of the spouses” AND more effective and creative resources for those in that unique “battle zone.” I humbly ask for any who agree to join me in this prayer effort.

    Thank you, Robert, Bre’anna, Matt and Emilee, for sharing….and to ALL our soldiers, and especially, ALL spouses of soldiers… thank you – for our CONTINUED celebration of INDEPENDENCE – because of your sacrificial efforts to
    allow FREEDOM to ring so sweetly. We love, admire and are deeply grateful to you…
    katherine

  6. I was deeply touched by this email and prayed for all the troops and their families! I asked Jesus to cover them with a blanket of protection now and in the future! Thank you to ALL the women and men that serve!

    In Jesus’ Saving Name!

    Hilary Akromis

  7. Please know that we’re now praying for the family of Gunny Sgt Pate. God truly has a plan for them as well, to honor the sacrifice their husband and dad just gave for all of us. May they have peace and comfort in the days ahead.

    We’re so grateful that Matt made it home safely. Thanks to all of you for sharing this with us.

  8. It’s the wonder of God’s love that surrounds us. Prayer is not to be used last, just in case. Pray first, hard and always. God uses the right one at the right time.

  9. What an amazing story! I came over from LInda’s–she told me I’d be blessed. And I truly am. Thank you for sharing this beautiful story–more than a story–this beautiful truth about the power of prayer.

  10. Bre’anna, I’m Emilee’s mom’s friend, and she sent me your link as an update on the family.

    This answer to so many prayers from so many faithful is truly praiseworthy.

    May Matt, Emilee and Jackson continue to feel God’s powerful leading in their lives! And know the continued blessing of the fellowship of believers.

  11. Thank you so much for updating us on their story. I have been praying with my children for the Wheeler family, and I had communicated that to Emilee on Facebook. I had wondered what the status of Matt was, and I am thrilled for his safety and return home. I will keep this family in my family’s prayers, and most certainly add to that the family of GySgt. Pate.

  12. Breanna.
    Thanks for sharing; God has a way of protecting us in every situation. You and Chris have a great future sharing Christ with many through this and many stories of life. We are so proud of you both.
    in Him
    Dean

  13. The power of prayer, how awesome it is. God does perform miraculous works. I am so overjoyed that all went well for you and Matt. And we will most definately keep all the soldiers and their families in our prayers. To God be the glory!!!!

  14. Thank You, Jesus for showing Yourself evident, showing Yourself worthy. May all those who read the Wheelers’ story know our God is an awesome God and worthy of all our praises!

    Thank you for sharing so beautifully, Bre’anna.

  15. Such a touching story and we are so blessed to have soldiers like him. I will be praying for Matt and family. Also for the family who lost their loved one. I can not imagine what they are experiencing but so grateful for life. Thanks for sharing this. God bless you all, Ann

  16. I am thankful for his demonstration of protection in answer to our prayers. Matt has been faithful in danger. A difficult task is the healing process of the mind, emotions, and families out there that go through this everyday. My son is just returning from Afghanistan, but we will pray more fervently for our troops out there in harm’s way. Thank you for your eloquent posting. I would love to share this on my FACEBOOK. Keep using the power of words!

  17. There IS power in prayer! The One and Only God who hears our prayers is a God of peace, love, forgiveness, and free will. He desires us to choose Him, choose peace, choose love, and choose forgiveness.

  18. Awesome story but let’s not forget your last lines for the family of GySgt. Pate. I hope everyone can remember to keep Matt and his family in our prayers for continued protection but also a blanket of love and sincere compassion to those who have lost their loved ones.

  19. Thank-you for sharing. One life is spared and another is taken. God’s plan is to be trusted. To have faith during the most difficult times is a testament to our father. God bless each family mentioned. I pray that God protect all those who are in the military & law enforcement.

  20. Great miracles happen when we pray. Isn’t wonderful to serve a God that takes care of us at all times? Thank you for sharing, this teaches me to keep praying and believing that we are under the shadow of His wings. Blessings,

  21. I am sitting in my church office now, trying to get things in order, organizing, etc. and i check out top posts, and i see evidence of God, I was skeptical at first because how often do you find something with a title like that, that is only bashing our faith. But I went forward, never expecting to find this. by the end of reading your post I had tears rolling down my face. God’s power is absolutely amazing. He sure has a fierce love for us. Praise God in all His Glory!

    1. Same set up here in India, I was writing a blog and doing some write up for the church, when I stumbled upon this,which was available on the top post, initially i thought another atheist bashing with his sarcastic comment, however I just went ahead and it was indeed a blessing to read and know that we serve such a God, who answers our prayer.

  22. Thank you for sharing your amazing journey with so many. May God’s Grace and Goodness continue to encompass your family. And may God continue to supply all your needs and the needs of our loved ones in battle and here at home.

  23. Ephesians 6:12-13 “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalites, powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wicknedness in high places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armour so that you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will be standing firm.”

    Since God said it, I couldn’t put it a better way. We will continue to pray for your healing. We will also continue to pray for all the warriors of God who battle away and at home.

    ~Sarah

  24. Breanna
    I’m a blessed. God writes the story, we get to turn the pages. Thank you for being one of the page turners in Matt and Emilee’s story. robert

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