Operation Heal Our Patriots: Christine and Louis-Philippe
Christine experienced a breakthrough when she and her husband Louis-Philippe Binette came to Alaska to participate in Samaritan’s Purse’s Operation Heal Our Patriots ministry.
Christine Carignan got far more than she expected when she and her husband Louis-Philippe Binette came to Alaska to participate in Samaritan’s Purse’s Operation Heal Our Patriots ministry.
“I came here for marriage counseling—which I got—but I also found God,” she said tearfully.
More than 500 U.S. wounded military veterans and their spouses have been guests at the Samaritan Lodge since Operation Heal Our Patriots began in 2013. In September 2015, with the financial and prayer support of Canadian donors, the first wounded veterans and spouses from Canada were able to participate in this unique ministry.
Christine (a Lieutenant Colonel) and Louis-Philippe (a major in the reserves) were among the 10 Canadian couples that spent a week in Alaska.
The couples enjoyed a variety of memorable recreational opportunities, and also participated in several marriage workshops that taught effective communication and other relationship skills.
Christine and Louis-Philippe have been experiencing marriage problems since about 2011. They trace their difficulties back to a period when, because of separate deployments to Afghanistan and training courses that were also far from home, they saw each other for only six weeks over two years.
“We went through blaming each other (for various family problems) and struggling so much,” Louis-Philippe recalled. “It was ugly, and we knew we couldn’t continue like that.”
Last Christmas in their home in Ottawa, they discussed divorce—including the impact it would have on their four children. They decided to stay together, but recognized things had to improve or a break-up was inevitable.
When a Canadian Forces padre learned of their marriage difficulties, he recommended they apply to become one of the first Canadian military couples involved in Operation Heal Our Patriots. Christine and Louis-Philippe hesitated. They knew the ministry exists for wounded military veterans and their spouses.
Christine and Louis-Philippe found hope and healing during their time at Operation Heal Our Patriots.
Those wounds can be physical or psychological—including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Thousands of Canadian soldiers are PTSD sufferers, but Christine and Louis-Philippe are not. They suffer from a less serious ailment known as “Operational Stress Injury.” Neither wanted to be included in Operation Heal Our Patriots if that meant “bumping” an applicant with more serious wounds.
When Christine and Louis-Philippe learned Samaritan’s Purse had accepted their application, their goal in coming to Alaska was to improve their marriage. They knew Samaritan’s Purse is a Christian organization, so there would likely be some prayer times and maybe scripture readings. But that was only an afterthought to a couple who’d never had a single discussion about God in 21 years of marriage.
They arrived at the Samaritan Lodge on a Sunday. The next morning, all 10 couples were treated to some kayaking lessons and brief paddling tour around scenic Port Alsworth. They spent the afternoon in their first marriage class. Tuesday featured more recreational activities—couples could sign up for guided hiking, or fishing, and also bear-watching from a plane—plus another marriage class.
It was during the Tuesday class that Louis-Philippe says God started to tug on his heart. Christine’s breakthrough came the next day while she was listening to the wife of a military veteran suffering from PTSD describe how she found him trying to hang himself.
Click here to learn more about Operation Heal Our Patriots
Lisa Harding stopped her husband Chris from committing suicide but he remained very depressed. Then Chris was in a terrible car accident that has left him with permanent disabilities. How has their marriage survived? Because of their strong faith in the saving power of Jesus Christ, Lisa declared.
"I came here for marriage counseling—which I got—but I also found God.”
“She (Lisa) spoke for only two or three minutes,” Christine recalled in an interview later. “But I saw her misery. I saw a couple going through hell. She said it was God that gave her strength. I wanted that strength. Her words were like a flame that came right at me—hitting me here,” Christine said, pointing to her heart. “It was amazing. I listened to Lisa and it hit me—God is real.”
Christine shared her revelation with Louis-Philippe and they met with one of the Operation Heal Our Patriots chaplains. They asked many tough questions, including some about deep hurts in their past. Although some questions remain, they decided to put their faith in God. Chaplain Rick Lamothe led them in a prayer during which they asked God to forgive their sins, and committed their lives to Him.
“I think God is like my general,” a smiling Christine said. “I don’t have to agree with God all the time, but I still respect Him and have faith in Him because He has the big picture.”
Ways you can help
Prayer is the most important gift you can give. Please keep these specific requests in your prayers:
Ask God to protect our military personnel serving overseas.
Pray for those service members who have been injured or wounded.
Pray for the ministry of Operation Heal Our Patriots.
You can help bring a military couple to Samaritan Lodge Alaska for a life-changing retreat they desperately need and provide ongoing follow-up care for years to come. Your gift helps provide these husbands and wives the spiritual refreshment, physical renewal, and marriage enrichment they critically need. Donate Here