We began meeting as a group in October 2002. Twelve scared men gathered at a church to be led by a scared sergeant. We were the first purity platoon of the men’s purity ministry, Every Man’s Battle For Purity. As their sergeant I had led one previous group of men in the fall of 2001. I was long on zeal but short on experience. We lost one man the first week and were down to 11 men in November. We also had one man pray to receive Jesus Christ as Savior in week three! Over the 16 weeks of purity platoon something unusual happened. Men bonded! They were not about to stop meeting after purity platoon ended. They had shared the deepest, darkest secrets of their lives and had experienced community with one another. So the platoon became a maturity platoon and met for 12 additional weeks. The focus shifted from sexual purity to spiritual maturity.
After maturity platoon men were still unwilling to stop meeting and so we continued to meet . . . for 16 years! Over that period the platoon met with varying degrees of frequency. Sometimes we met weekly to study a book; but over the last few years as men began to move away from the area, we met at least annually for a reunion. At the reunions we would enjoy dinner together at a local restaurant and share about our purity, our pursuits, and our prayer needs. Men flew in for those reunions from as far away as Arizona to be there!
As we approached year 16 it became apparent that the platoon reunions needed to end. Most of the platoon had either moved away or were involved in other pursuits. To this day, the men in that first platoon are close friends to me, friends I wouldn’t hesitate to call should I need their help or counsel. Many are experiencing health concerns, family concerns, job concerns, and church concerns. At the conclusion of our last supper we shared needs and prayer requests and one of our men, a young pastor, fervently prayed for each man’s needs. He prayed for nearly twenty minutes right in the midst of a crowded restaurant! That’s bold!
I don’t anticipate that I will ever experience that kind of small group again, one marked by unflinching honesty. That was a once-in-a-lifetime gift from the Lord, and I will miss it. More than anything, I will miss the relationships because we are wired for relationships. It’s why Jesus came . . . so we could have relationships with Him, His Father, His Spirit and one another.
Heaven will be an amazing reunion!