(16 Total References)
In Iraq, man distributes study Bibles to soldiers facing 'ultimate sacrifice'
DALLAS (ABP) -- As a civilian contractor in Iraq, Brad Blauser has seen a lot when it comes to war.He's lost friends in combat and faces the possibility that more will follow.
That knowledge, however, doesn't get him down.Instead, Blauser
comrades face the unknown with certainty: He
supplies study Bibles to troops at his
base, and he
can't keep the books on the shelves.
"Right now when they arrive, the Bibles never last more than 10 minutes," Blauser
told Associated Baptist Press
, via e-mail from Iraq."These guys are hungry for a study Bible that will help them understand how to become a Christian and aid them in their faith, so that when they go out into battle they are sure of their eternity, if they are called to make the ultimate sacrifice."A member of Fellowship Church in Grapevine, Texas, Blauser has worked as a contracting company's safety officer in Iraq for almost two years.
"real" job, he
makes sure all company safety policies meet government standards.In the meantime, he
travels between military bases to hand out the Bibles himself.He
gave more than 550 Bibles to soldiers last year, and has a goal of distributing at least 6,000 by 2007.
It all started last spring, when Blauser
wanted to begin a Bible study for new Christians at the bases.A member of a devout Christian family, he
developed a passion for discipling new Christians through stateside school efforts like Evangelism Explosion and Baptist Student Unions
.At Fellowship, Blauser
led the congregation's ministry to new Christians, and the study Bibles played an important role there in helping new believers understand the faith.Blauser
moved to Iraq in 2004 and quickly sensed that many of the soldiers risking their lives have a need for practical truths.
"So many of these guys are open to hearing the gospel, but because of soldier pride will never seek out the answer on their own," he
said."Now that they go outside and face eternity every time they leave base, they're very interested in knowing God.Even those who won't come to chapel are willing to take a study Bible and search its pages for answers to their deepest soul-searching questions."
In order to meet that need, Blauser
turned to his
friends back at Fellowship.He
used an email list of about 40 family members and church friends and asked them to donate Bibles.The request got an enthusiastic response from people who wanted to help but didn't know how, Blauser
"By providing the means for them to do something significant for the soldiers, people responded en masse," he
Soon after the initial shipment, Blauser
took photos of the soldiers with their Bibles and sent the photos with thank-you notes to executives at Zondervan, the publisher of many of the study Bibles Blauser received.
After executives at Zondervan ran a story about Blauser's
positive impact on soldiers in Iraq, the concept grew quickly.People on Blauser's
initial email list forwarded the letter requesting donations for Bibles to others, and he
soon received Bibles from across the United States, Canada and Australia.
"As the study Bibles continue to arrive, I have the privilege of handing them out to Apache, Blackhawk and Chinook [helicopter] crews first-hand," Blauser
said."Also, chaplains in Baghdad asked for over 300, and chaplains across the country are now contacting me for more."
Along with the progress, though, comes pain.On Aug. 4, 2005, Blauser lost a good friend, Nils Thompson, who died in action one day after his 19th birthday.
...Since then, Blauser has commemorated the friendship by creating the Nils G. Thompson Memorial Fund, which uses 100 percent of donations to purchase study Bibles for U.S. troops.
Despite the loss, Blauser
wouldn't want to be anywhere else than on "the cutting edge" of reaching people who would otherwise have been "considered unreachable back home in the states."
"This is truly where my heart is, in getting God's word into the hands of fighting combat soldiers who face a very real possibility of entering eternity every time they leave base," he
Eventually, Azwan grew to help manage ...
Eventually, Azwan grew to help manage the institute and assisted Blauser, the former civilian contractor in Iraq who ran Wheelchairs for Kids and was nominated as a 2009 CNN Hero.
The U.S. government, said Blauser
, didn't want to send a message that its youth development program was a vehicle for immigration to America.
By providing wheelchairs to Iraqi kids ...
By providing wheelchairs to Iraqi kids with physical challenges, Brad Blauser has given them hope for a better life.
He also inspired a ten-year-old boy to help in the cause
Brad Blauser with a young boy helped by the Wheelchairs for Iraqi Kids initiative.
The year was 2004 and Brad Blauser, a civilian contractor from Texas, US, had just been posted to Baghdad, Iraq.
Armed with two business degrees (one in management and the other in marketing) from Texas A&M University
was busy with his
job, which involved travelling to different parts of Baghdad.
Brown was treating children with disabilities in Mosul, a city in northern Iraq, and Blauser
learnt that the ones most affected in war-torn Iraq were children.
Even worse, many had been injured in the war and had limbs missing requiring surgery," says Blauser in an email interview with Friday.
Seeing the smiles on the faces of the children who benefited from the wheelchairs was a moving moment for Blauser
recalls the moment when Yousuf an eight-year-old boy with cerebral palsy received a wheelchair.
Yousuf's twin brother could attend school, but he could not because of the condition he was born with.
used to look longingly at children playing ball in the streets or going to school and wish he
could be mobile like them.
Then in April 2011, Yousuf's mother heard about an opportunity to get a free wheelchair with a built-in desktop.
Keen to get one for her
brought him to the centre in Baghdad where Blauser
was distributing the wheelchairs.
"Yousuf was overjoyed to receive his
wheelchair,'' says Blauser
can attend school, which is just a few streets away from his
house, with his
Yousuf rides in his
wheelchair while his
brother rides his
bicycle and together they attend school hoping to live better lives.''
As the initiative gained momentum, Blauser
decided to make a more formal arrangement to distribute wheelchairs.
set up a non-profit organisation called Wheelchairs for Iraqi Kids.
also partnered with a US-based non-profit group called Reach Out and Care Wheels.
They agreed to sell him high-quality paediatric wheelchairs at a manufacturing price of about $300 (about Dh1,100).
The chairs are made by prisoners at the South Dakota State Penitentiary and are delivered in Iraq by the US military.
To date more than 250 Iraqi families have received the wheelchairs.
initiative had a curious spin-off.
A friend who wanted to help see Wheelchairs for Iraqi Kids get some recognition for all the children helped by the cause nominated Blauser for CNN Hero of the Year Award in 2009.
"My main incentive for going along with this was to get the $100,000 cash prize to buy more wheelchairs for the Iraqi children who needed them," says Blauser
did not win the grand prize but he
is content with the $25,000 that he
received for being among the top ten.
That's not all.
"The Annenberg Foundation
gave me another $10,000.
So another 100 wheelchairs were sponsored by my involvement in the CNN Heroes programme!'' he
was one of the guest speakers at the Mosaic 2010 conference in Sharjah at the Higher Colleges of Technology.
"Other CNN Heroes came to share their stories of how they started 'caring' and helping others.
What a great event it was," he
The gift of mobility
has many stories to tell about children with special needs whose lives have been changed after they received the wheelchairs.
was mobile," recalls Blauser
appears to have had an amazing effect on not just special needs children.
Ben, an American boy, who at the age of ten read Blauser's story on CNN
, decided to do something to help children with disabilities.
A guitar player from the age of two, he
made a poster with Blauser's pictures.
then put up the poster in front of a bakery near his
home in San Francisco, California, where for more than three years he's
been playing his
guitar on Saturdays to raise money for Iraqi children who need wheelchairs.
Now 13, he
recently went on tour playing concerts and appearing on live TV shows.
Over the years he
has raised $26,900 to fund 76 wheelchairs!
contract gets over, Blauser
will not have access to Baghdad and other Iraqi cities.
Who: Brad Blauser
Brad Blauser, a civilian contractor also based at Marez, asked what he could do.
â€œIt would sure be great if we could get these kids some wheelchairs,â€ he told Blauser.
â€œThatâ€™s all it took, just me thinking out loud,â€ Brown recalls. â€œBrad just has a pure heart for helping people.â€
wrote home to all of the 300 people on his
email distribution list.
friends wrote to their friends.
â€œThe wheelchairs are built for the third world; they feature thick bicycle tires, but theyâ€™re not plastic garden chairs on a cheap frame,â€ says Blauser
, 40, from Fort Worth, Texas.
â€œThis is just the beginning,â€ he
says. â€œWith a population of over two million in Mosul, I donâ€™t think weâ€™ll be able to get every child a wheelchair, but Iâ€™d love to see as many sent over as possible.â€
Heroes « Ethics Blog
• Brad Blauser, a civilian contractor in Iraq quite his job to spend his life delivering free wheelchairs to Iraqi children.
His Wheelchairs for Iraqi Kids program has distributed close to 650 wheelchairs so far.
Brad is risking his life everyday doing why he knows is the right thing to do for him.
December 9th, 2009 at 3:06 am Posted by Brad Blauser