A Chance Meeting that Saved a Life.
By The Rev. Nigel Mumford+
The prayer team of “The Welcome Home Initiative” (WHI) and I were having lunch before WHI program number twelve. I saw a man sitting by himself and went up to him. I introduced myself and sat with him for a while. He was not part of the program. The combat vets were arriving later. This man told me he had come to the center for a private retreat. He said he needed to get away and be by himself. I told him we were running a program for combat vets. His eyes opened wide. He said that he was a combat vet and then told me a little about his service in Afghanistan.
I immediately invited him to have “his retreat” with us. At first he declined. I told him just to come, meet the men and women and hang out with us. If you don’t like it then return to your private retreat. After a while he agreed.
He joined in and was an integral part of the retreat. He was very quiet to begin with but made friends and joined in. It was a blessing to see him come alive. He kept thanking me for the invitation. How much is this going to cost? I assured him that the public had funded the program. I told him to thank God for his invitation to the program.
After the closing ceremony he came up to me and gingerly opened his back pack. He privately showed me a pistol. I asked him if it was unloaded. He assured me it was. He then said something that changed my life forever.
“Fr. Nigel” he said. “I had come here for a private retreat. I had planned to walk far into the woods and put the barrel of this pistol in my mouth and blow my brains out. I just could not cope with the haunting trauma of war. I don’t need to use this after all, thank you for saving my life” At this point we both had tears in our eyes…
Again he said, “Thank you for the invitation to join the Welcome Home Initiative. If you had not invited me I would be dead now. Thank you and thank God for the invitation to life. Our meeting stopped the need in me to commit suicide.”
One veteran’s life saved because of the Welcome Home initiative. Thank you God.