Marines.Together We Served

Monday, August 28, 2017

The Playbook Plan

Roots in Ripon
Chuck Roots
28 August 2017

The Playbook Plan

My column, Roots in Ripon, first began fifteen years ago when I was called up from the naval reserve for a two-year stint in support of the Iraq War. The editor of the then Ripon Record, Joe Franscella, asked me if I would be willing to write a weekly column for the paper, describing my experiences in going back to war. My previous experience was as an enlisted Marine in Vietnam.

Writing about something new and different each week has not been difficult primarily because I have so many interests that my mind is constantly roiling over some issue, problem, political dilemma, family dynamic, etc., that I never lack for material. After the demise of the Ripon Record, I was picked up by the Manteca Bulletin which also publishes the Ripon Bulletin.

The reason for my stating the background of my column is to simply say that I write about a wide variety of topics and themes. Though I am acutely interested in politics, I do not venture into this arena all that often. My reason is simple: In today’s political climate, tensions run high, lines are drawn, assumptions are made (depending on your political slant), and banter, debate and general discourse have become a thing of the past. Growing up, I would listen to my folks have heated discussions with their best friends over political matters, but it had no bearing on their love for one another. I wish we could return to those times. Today, the measure of political discourse goes something like this: If you don’t agree with me, then you’re the enemy!” Sad.

 That said, I would like to bring to your attention a topic I find very troubling. On the Internet, I found a document of roughly fifty pages written by journalist David Brock, entitled, “Democracy Matters: Strategic Plan for Action.” It was further described as “A Confidential Memo on Fighting Trump.” This is the Democrat Party’s playbook on how to undermine and defeat President Donald Trump. It has “Private & Confidential” on each page.

A special meeting was held by the Democratic leadership outlining the game plan for various liberal, left-leaning organizations to go after Trump and all Republicans, as well as those few Democrats who might agree with the President’s policies and agenda on occasion. The following is the list of tactics to be used by these liberal/progressive operatives: Media Matters (for America); American Bridge (21st Century); CREW; and Shareblue. (

This is their approach to undermining the Trump Administration:

·        Calling out all signs of authoritarianism and kleptocracy (serving in government for status and personal gain at the expense of the governed). Championing voices who have been right to warn us.

·        Non-stop coverage of the influence of Vladimir Putin and Russia on Trump and his administration.

·        Exposing Trump as a weak, thin-skinned “loser,” vulnerable to goading.

·        Relentlessly beating the drum that he (Trump) has no mandate, lost the popular vote, and is the least popular president-elect in modern American history.

·        Exposing the insidious role of (Vice President) Mike Pence, who is replicating the right-wing governance ideology he inflicted on Indiana.

·        Demystifying Trump’s “Conflicts of Interest” and calling them what they are: Subversions of the nation’s interests.

·        Spotlighting the Trump administration’s vast ties to white-nationalists and the ways in which they explicitly empower white supremacy.

·        Tracking and fighting back against odious GOP (Grand Old Party, i.e., Republicans) legislation in Congress.

·        Following SCOTUS (Supreme Court of the United States) nominations/appointments/major cases.

·        Morale-boosting coverage of the grassroots opposition and resistance efforts outside the Beltway (a euphemism for Washington DC politics).

·        Positive coverage of Democrats who boldly call out Trump and aggressively work against him. Pressure on Democrats who consider giving him cover.

·        Media criticism exposing mainstream journalists who normalize Trump, and championing those who hold him accountable.

·        Fighting outrage fatigue.

All the above parentheses were made by me to define or explain various words and acronyms.

So, perhaps this will shed some light on the tactics of the Democrats, Leftists, Progressives (take your pick) and why the news about President Trump always seems to be so bad.

As a Christian, I am instructed from God’s Word, the Bible, to “pray for those in authority over me.” You see, this is not simply an ideological or political war. It is a spiritual war. Our fight is not against people on earth. We are fighting against the rulers and authorities and the powers of this world’s darkness. We are fighting against the spiritual powers of evil in the heavenly places.

And spiritual wars are fought and won on your knees.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Blessing in Disguise

Roots in Ripon
Chuck Roots
21 August 2017

Blessing in Disguise

Sunday morning, I was preaching at the Oasis Christian Fellowship in Pleasant Hill, about an hour’s drive from Ripon. My friend and fellow pastor in the Free Methodist denomination, Rob Baker, invited me to come and share with his congregation. I readily accepted.

Pastor Rob has been there quite a number of years, bringing an infectious energy that is contagious when you are in his presence. His congregation is an eclectic bunch covering the spectrum of Americans of all shapes, sizes, ethnicities, ages, disabilities, and diversity of spiritual journeys. Isaura and I came away convinced that we had been blessed by these folks more than any words I shared from the pulpit.

Music is one of Rob’s loves, having written many worship songs in the contemporary genre of church music. I have had a few of his CDs for the past several years. The congregation is lively and very loving. It couldn’t have been more than five minutes after Isaura and I walked in that we were approached by John. We were sitting in the back row, listening to the worship team practice. This was twenty minutes prior to the service starting. I always plan to be at a speaking/preaching engagement well ahead of time so as not to be a concern to the person who has invited me, wondering, “Is he coming?”

So, anyway, John comes up beside my chair and says “Hi. Welcome to Oasis!” I stood up to greet him, reaching for his extended hand. I immediately noticed that he was holding a white stick in his other hand. His sunglasses confirmed his blindness. We chatted a bit, explaining that he had lost his vision six years earlier due to diabetes. At this point he introduced his wife, Dalia, who was sitting across the way. She gave us a big smile and waved. I walked over to shake her hand, only to realize that she was confined to a wheel chair. The way she was seated told me her legs were of no use to her.

This encounter made a profound impression on me. Here Isaura and I were, fully mobile with all of our senses in operational mode. Yet John and Dalia extended themselves, despite their physical limitations, by warmly welcoming us into their fellowship. And they were at the church well before the service was to begin, no doubt seeking to be a blessing to someone, as they were to us. They simply could not have been more gracious. It set the tone for the rest of our time with these folks at Oasis.

I next approached the audio/video guy, Daniel, to ask if he could put some passages of Scripture up on the screen during my sermon. He assured me that he could and had it loaded up in a couple of minutes. As I watched his dexterity with the computer, envying his prowess, I suddenly paid a bit more attention to what he was doing. It was then that I noticed his arms and hands did not work naturally. His elbows were splayed, with fingers pointing in awkward directions. But he never missed a bit in accomplishing his task.

After several rousing songs of worship, Pastor Rob asked if anyone had something for which they would like to praise God. Normally, in most churches I’ve been in, an awkward moment of silence is uncomfortably endured until someone offers a praise. Not at Oasis! My goodness, these folks were sharing answers to prayer, thanking God for others in the congregation who had been praying for them during serious illness, or offering to help one another. This must have gone on unabated for at least twenty minutes at which point Pastor Rob brought that part of the service to a close. I was so enjoying this blessing that I was somewhat chagrined that it had to end.

I was introduced by Pastor Rob in his typical tongue-in-cheek tomfoolery concerning my military service, travels around the world, and other nonsense which his congregation thoroughly enjoyed. Stepping up to the pulpit, I remarked that I was going to ignore his disparaging remarks. After all, he referred to me as an ex-Marine! As everyone should know, there are no ex-Marines. Once a Marine, always a Marine. The congregation took delight in this bit of repartee between us.

The Scripture I used was taken from Ephesians 6:10-20, which describes how any follower of Jesus must put on the whole armor of God. Why? Because we are “not fighting against flesh and blood, but against spiritual forces.” I concluded by reminding these dear people that God has equipped us to do spiritual battle by providing us with two weapons; God’s Word (the Bible), and prayer.

After the service, Isaura and I went to lunch with a lady (and her son) who used to attend the Ripon Free Methodist Church when I was the pastor. She now attends Oasis. We spent the time getting caught up on each other’s comings and goings, all while consuming delightful Chinese cuisine. I had sweet and sour pork. Yum!

To top off the day, late in the afternoon, I picked up Alyssa, my nine-year-old granddaughter, and took her golfing at Spring Creek. She has become quite the golfer, hitting the ball well over one hundred yards from the tee. That sure does my heart good to see her enjoying this sport which we can play together. I am truly blessed.

Have a great week! And look for God’s blessings! You might just be surprised!

Monday, August 14, 2017

The Scourge of the Century

Roots in Ripon
Chuck Roots
14 August 2017

The Scourge of the Century

Four decades ago the world was introduced to a medical terror the likes of which few other global alarms can even be compared. The scourge I’m writing about is HIV/Aids.

Let me ask you: When was the last time you read something about this dreaded disease? I’ll bet you can’t remember. It has virtually dropped off the radar screen when it comes to news reporting.

You may be asking me why I’m writing about this topic if it is no longer a blaring headline news story. That would be a fair and reasonable question. My answer is equally fair and reasonable. It is also direct. The scourge we know as HIV/Aids is still very much alive and well in our world. Please excuse the obvious oxymoron, “alive and well” in referencing this deadly, debilitating disease.

Recently, my wife and I were honored once again to be hosts in our home to our good friends, Dr. Tim and Muriel Teusink. These two Christian missionaries are simply amazing. Kinder, more godly people you will rarely find. They are home on furlough during which time they travel around North America visiting those churches and individuals who support them through finances and prayer.

I became acquainted with the Teusink’s in early 2002 when I took a team of six from our church, the Ripon Free Methodist, to spend two weeks in Ethiopia. Our arrival in the capital city, Addis Ababa, coincided with the opening and dedication ceremony of three brand new medical clinics which would provide much needed health services for this beleaguered city of nearly three-and-a-half million. Dr. Tim Teusink was at the forefront of this advance in medical care.

Our intrepid team was welcomed into the Teusink’s home and embraced as family, even though we had never met. After our two weeks were over, and we returned home to Ripon, as the pastor, I strongly encouraged (as did the others) that our church of 100 souls provide ongoing spiritual and financial support for the Teusink’s missions work. Though I have been retired from church ministry for three years, I am pleased to announce that our church continues to support these folks.

During our recent visit, I asked Dr. Tim if I could interview him for an article for my “Roots in Ripon” column. He readily agreed. So, we sat and discussed his years of medical missions, with a driving question I had of just how he wound up immersed in HIV/Aids. To better understand this man and the reasons he felt God leading him into the field of medicine and missions work, you need to know that he came from a family of Christians who were strong in their faith. His parents wanted to be missionaries, but were unable to pursue this goal. Instead, his dad became a pastor with the Reformed Church of America in Holland, Michigan where Dr. Tim was born. They later moved to Washington State which has been home for Dr. Tim ever since.

Dr. Tim told me two things had a profound effect on him growing up. The first thing that made a lasting impression on him was the doctor who gave exceptional compassionate care to his brother who was suffering from cerebral palsy. The second thing that has had a life-long impact was the strong urging (or “calling”, if you will) by God to follow a career in medicine, but more specifically, on the mission field. This was confirmed years later when he met Muriel (hailing from Canada) who also knew without a doubt that God was calling her to be a missionary. Her parents had also wanted to be missionaries. So, the die was cast for them both, you might say.

“I am not a visionary,” Dr. Tim was quick to state. Instead, he expressed his desire to be faithful in what God has called him to do.

The Teusink’s serve under the mission’s organization known as SIM, formerly the Sudan Interior Mission, first established in 1893. In the 1980s, SIM’s acronym became the Society for International Ministries, but is today better known as SIM. So great was the impact of SIM, that 40% of Africans today claim to be Christian.

In 1984, Dr. Tim was sent to the nation of Rwanda in Africa. It was here that HIV/Aids first became an issue for him, facing the reality of a populace of 25%-30% infected. Routinely performing surgeries, he was acutely aware of the growing concern of this new virus that was beginning to infect and kill people at an alarming rate. Little was known about it, even in the world of medicine. Dr. Tim was a young husband and father, so he grew increasingly concerned with the possibility of infecting his own family due to his constant contact with Rwandans carrying the virus. He wrestled with this problem until God made it clear to him that he was to continue in his medical practice and leave the welfare of him and his family to God’s sovereignty. He continued with surgeries for the next four years, dealing with the nearly daily needle pricks from infected patients.

It is because of this close proximity to HIV/Aids infected patients that Dr. Tim has become a recognized authority on this scourge, being named “Missionary of the Year” in 2012 by the Christian Medical & Dental Society. He continues to travel throughout the world, but primarily in Africa, teaching bioethics to medicos and other health professionals as to the best ways to treat those afflicted with HIV/Aids and its prevention.

Please pray for Dr. Tim and Muriel Teusink as they continue to honor God through their life’s work and passion, battling the scourge of the century.

Monday, August 07, 2017

Naval Farewell

Roots in Ripon
Chuck Roots
7 August 2017

Naval Farewell

One of the great blessings of having served in the military for so many years is the association you garner with some of the most outstanding individuals this nation has ever produced. This weekend exemplifies my point.

Late last month Rear Admiral Russell W. Gorman crossed the bar, to use a metaphor written by Alfred Tennyson. He was a month shy of his 90th birthday. To read his biography, or “Bio” as it is referred to in navy parlance, is to take a walk through naval history from the 1950s through the 1980s. He graduated from the Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, New York in 1949. One of his first assignments was to Yokohama, Japan where he met Mieko (a.k.a., Eriko), who would become his wife of sixty years.

Though I never got to know the admiral personally, I had heard of him over the years since we lived in the same region of California. Just after he passed away I was contacted by my friend Al Cruz who was put in charge of organizing a Celebration of Life service, and the committal service at the Sacramento Valley National Cemetery where the ashes of both Admiral Gorman and his wife Eriko will be interred.

Al and I go back a lot of years. We both served in Vietnam as sergeants in the Marine Corps, though it would be many years later that we actually met. He had gone on to receive a commission as a Marine officer, retiring as a colonel. Our first contact was when we were both with 1st Battalion 14th Marines Artillery out of Alameda, California in the early 1990s. Al wanted to make this a special military ceremony with all the trimmings, so among others, he contacted me to perform the chaplain duties of offering the Invocation and Benediction.

Since this was to be a formal event, I pulled out my Dress Whites, which are more frequently referred to by Navy personnel as “Choker Whites.” And for good reason! The stiff collar must be fastened with metal interlocking connectors right where a man’s Adam’s Apple is located. Since it had been a few years since I had last worn this particular uniform, I had some consternation about a proper fit. I decided to wait until I arrived at the Sunday afternoon Celebration of Life held at the Veterans Memorial Building in Danville.

I was pleased to find a parking place directly across the street and in front of a small restaurant with an outside patio for dining. As I stood by my car, slipping into the choker white jacket, a couple having Sunday brunch smiled and offered a few complimentary words about the uniform. So, instead of wrestling with trying to hook the collar together without benefit of a mirror, I asked the lady if she would kindly do the honors. She agreed, while her husband smiled. Well, it was a tight fit, and the lady was very concerned about hurting me, but after a few minutes she managed to connect all three loops. I thanked them and proceeded to enter the Veterans Memorial Building.

There was quite an assembly of retired military present, both officer and enlisted, along with local government officials as well as friends and neighbors of the admiral. One of the invited speakers was Rear Admiral Tom Brown III. After the program was over I had a chance to chat with him and discovered he had at one point in his career been the commanding officer of the USS Midway aircraft carrier. The Midway is currently a museum, permanently anchored at the pier in San Diego.

The service for the admiral was very nice, and concluded with the playing of the Navy Hymn followed by the Benediction. We all stood while the Navy Hymn was played, but it was strictly instrumental. The words kept running through my mind, and I thought, “There are people here who are not part of the sea services who don’t know the song.” So, on the spur of the moment as I moved forward to offer the Benediction, I decided to sing the first verse acapella. “Eternal Father, strong to save, whose arm hath bound the restless wave, Who bidd’st the mighty ocean deep, its own appointed limits keep; Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee, for those in peril on the sea!”

Farewell, Admiral Gorman! Fair winds, and following seas.