On March 26, 2005, 33-year-old M/Sgt. Michael T. Hiester put on his boots just like every other morning. But for Michael and three of his companions, this was not like every other morning.
Michael was assigned to the Army National Guard’s 76th Infantry Brigade (Separate), Indianapolis, Indiana. He was part of a group of American and Afghan officials who were checking out a potential site for a shooting practice range in a desert area of Logar Province, 24 miles south of Kabul, the Afghanistan capital. Training Afghan troops was their primary mission.
Tragedy struck when a land mine exploded near the vehicle in which they were traveling. All four men in the vehicle were killed. Mullah Hakim Latifi, a man claiming to speak for the Taliban, claimed that Taliban fighters set off the mine by remote control. “We’ve said again and again that we would resume our holy war in the spring,” he said. The truth of these claims is suspect. However, Latifi’s comment does bring to light the reality of the holy war that every one of us is affected by every day of our lives. The way people think and what they believe has a direct affect on the way they act. That is why TRUTH is so important!
At his home in Bluffton, Indiana, Michael was known as a loving husband and father and a member of the Bluffton Fire Department. Michael left behind his wife Dawn; his two children Emily and Adam; and his parents, Tom and Kay Hiester; as well as his sisters Megan and Michele.
Shortly before his departure, Michael posted these words online: “We purchased a Victorian home in 1998 and are in the process of remodeling. Our home was built in 1896 and gives us ample room for the kids as they grow up. By my estimation, we should have the remodeling complete by the time the kids graduate. Just don’t tell my wife that. Our latest projects include restoring the original wood siding and getting a more Victorian feeling in the paint scheme. We also just tore the old barn down and built a new 22×38 three-car garage. Finally, a place to keep all that stuff that we don’t need but just can’t seem to get rid of.”
The hopes and dreams that Michael had for his home and garage would never become a reality… or would they?
Just two years ago this month, House of Hope Northeast Indiana purchased Michael’s home at 417 South Main Street in Bluffton, Indiana. Over the past two years, through the generous gifts and support of individuals, businesses, churches, organizations and foundations, the ministry has exploded into action and the home and garage have been completely renovated. The residential home will house up to six teenage boys. The boys will live with house parents who will model a Christian home environment. The garage that Michael himself built has been turned into the Michael T. Hiester Training Center.
The Training Center is currently being used for non-residential counseling, parenting classes, prayer ministry and other community activities. It will also be used as the school, once residential placement begins. Our mission is to bring healing and restoration to hurting and troubled teens and their families through Biblical truth and the love of Christ. Training and equipping teens and families to fight for their own freedom from destructive thoughts that lead to destructive behaviors is our primary objective.
Hundreds of teens and family members are being impacted with the message of TRUTH. This school year, House of Hope Northeast Indiana’s Alive and Well program has already impacted around 1200 area middle school students with five hours of rock solid TRUTH concerning sexual activity, the benefits of abstinence until marriage and other health related issues that teens are facing. Our telephone is ringing nonstop with cries for help. Parents are calling in crisis. We are doing our best to give counsel, direction and guidance to teens and families struggling with issues of depression, suicidal thoughts, sexual addictions, self mutilation, eating disorders, rebellion and on it goes. Our staff and volunteers cannot keep up with the demand of helping and counseling all of the families who are calling. Our residential home would easily be filled if the resources were in place!
THE WAR IS ON! The battle is for the hearts and lives of our teens and families. Wrong thinking leads to wrong behavior. Right thinking (TRUTH) is what changes the way people think and therefore the way they act, thus setting them free from destructive behavior. A person does not commit a violent crime unless he first entertains wrong thinking. The way that other people think does affect you and the community in which you live, whether you are aware of it or not. I knew nothing of Osama Bin Laden or the Taliban, until the twin towers fell. Wrong thinking by someone else has changed America forever!
As you put on your boots, shoes or sandals this Memorial Day season, remember that today holds no guarantees. Embrace those close to you and tell them that you love them. Take a moment to reflect on those who have paid a great price for our freedom. Be aware also that there is a war going on right in your own community. The stakes are high. The economic odds are against us. Battle fatigue is brutal. And, many soldiers are too engaged in civilian affairs to even recognize that we are at war.
The good news is “THERE IS HOPE”. At House of Hope Northeast Indiana we are seeing family relationships healed and restored. New habits and thought patterns are being formed. Families are sharing a common meal for the first time in years. Strongholds are being broken and God is truly turning the hearts of fathers and mothers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers and mothers.
Though I never had the privilege of meeting Michael T. Hiester on this side of eternity, I believe that one day I will meet him face to face. Together we will rejoice over battles won, territory taken, prisoners released and captives set free!
THANK YOU MICHAEL! You gave all for my freedom and the freedom of those in this great nation.
If you would like to join in the fight for the hearts and lives of teens and families, please visit us on the web: www.houseofhopeheals.com.
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