By Ada Nicholson Brownell
Brenda Roever turned over in bed. The room was dark and quiet. Dave
wasnt beside her with his usual snoring and occasional clearing
of his throat.
Dave was more than 8,000 miles away in Vietnam. This time the thought
of the country didnt bring fear to Brendas heart. She
went right back to sleep. Instead of going as a soldier, her husband
was with the Roever Evangelistic Associations Mission Vietnam,
a multifaceted outreach designed to build bridges of love and trust.
He would be back in Texas in about a week.
Dave and his team provide clothing, food, support for medical clinics
and a scholarship program, even to grandchildren of the former Viet
"He flew to Vietnam at the governments request,"
Brenda says later. "What the Lord is doing in Vietnam is amazing."
Like her husband, Brenda has forgiven Americas enemies in the
Vietnam War, despite the intense suffering it brought to their lives.
Daves face, an ear, part of his nose, most of his hair and several
fingers were blown off by a detonated phosphorous grenade as he attempted
to throw it. He and other Navy Special Forces members on a river patrol
boat had encountered the enemy. Flames were inhaled into Daves
lungs during the explosion, causing internal burns, too.
Brenda had just returned from church on July 26, 1969, when two white-uniformed
Navy officers rang the doorbell.
Age 20 and married just two years, Brenda was preparing to meet her
husband for his leave in 16 days. Her suitcase was packed and by the
Nauseated and dizzy, she could no longer bear to hear what the men
were saying. She took the telegram and sat down on the bedroom floor
where she reread Daves love letters. In anguish, she cried out
"A supernatural spirit of grace and peace filled me," she
says. "I knew everything would be all right."
People all over the world have heard Dave tell the story of how Brenda
walked into Brooke Army Medical Center burn unit 10 days later, past
dying and grotesquely injured soldiers to a husband she couldnt
recognize, smiled and said, "I love you. Welcome home, Davey."
Her unwavering devotion to him and God gave Dave the will to live
and fulfill Gods call to be an evangelist, although he was totally
disabled and badly disfigured.
Having lost his face and the identity that comes with it, Dave rode
some emotional runaway trains, but Brenda stayed beside him, assuring
him of her love and commitment.
Where did she get her spunk, strong will and remarkable faith?
"My mother always stood for what she believed, and later, Daddy,
too," she says. "Mom was the model of a Christian wife.
When my dad wasnt a Christian, she loved him and prayed for
him until he came to God when I was in my early teens. She loved him
enough to not let him go.
"My grandmother," Brenda says, "now there was spunk.
When all else is falling around you, stand firm, Grandma
Brendas mother-in-law was the encourager in her life, a prayer
warrior and an example of what every Christian should be, says Brenda.
Brendas faith was personal. It was Gods dunamis (power)
flowing through her spirit and His unchanging Word that gave her peace,
courage and comfort in the hard times and still does.
"My faith and a firm belief God is in control never wavered,"
she says. "I gave my heart to Jesus when I was 12. I made a commitment
to follow the Lord wherever He would take me. I still want to do that."
Although the Roevers have experienced heartache and pain, miracles
have also come from Gods hand. Dave was expected to be deaf
in his right ear and blind in his right eye, but he is not. Doctors
told them theyd never have children because of his injuries,
but they have a son and daughter-in-law, Matt and Jaime, and a daughter
and son-in-law, Kim and Phil Chapin, and two grandchildren. The Roever
siblings have ministries separate from their fathers, but assist
Doctors told Dave he probably wouldnt live past age 50 because
of the internal burns he suffered, and hes now 54.
Daves unusual sense of humor keeps both of them, as well as
audiences, laughing. But they still have tears.
When Dave places a hand with the fingers missing on hers, sometimes
Brenda feels a twinge of pain as she remembers the strong, whole hand
on hers in their wedding pictures. Then she remembers other scarred
hands with nail prints in them.
"Daves hands were injured fighting for freedom, and he
lost many things he could do with his hands, like bait a fish hook
for his son," says Brenda. "But to think of what Jesus gave
up when He gave up His royalty and came from the azure halls of glory.
I think of how much our spiritual freedom cost Jesus."
Those nail-scarred hands have led Brenda and Dave through many hard
places, and they know their significance: love beyond human comprehension.
Ada Nicholson Brownell lives in Pueblo, Colo.
The Roevers live in Fort Worth, Texas.