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How one woman’s faith sustained her
after a grenade nearly took her husband’s life

Her source of strength

By Ada Nicholson Brownell

Brenda Roever turned over in bed. The room was dark and quiet. Dave wasn’t 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 didn’t bring fear to Brenda’s heart. She went right back to sleep. Instead of going as a soldier, her husband was with the Roever Evangelistic Association’s 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 Cong.

"He flew to Vietnam at the government’s request," Brenda says later. "What the Lord is doing in Vietnam is amazing."

Like her husband, Brenda has forgiven America’s enemies in the Vietnam War, despite the intense suffering it brought to their lives. Dave’s 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 Dave’s 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 door.

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 Dave’s love letters. In anguish, she cried out to God.

"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 couldn’t 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 God’s 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 wasn’t 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 always said."

Brenda’s mother-in-law was the encourager in her life, a prayer warrior and an example of what every Christian should be, says Brenda.

Brenda’s faith was personal. It was God’s 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 God’s hand. Dave was expected to be deaf in his right ear and blind in his right eye, but he is not. Doctors told them they’d 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 father’s, but assist with crusades.

Doctors told Dave he probably wouldn’t live past age 50 because of the internal burns he suffered, and he’s now 54.

Dave’s 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.

"Dave’s 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.

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