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I love you

By Brenda Roever

“I love you,” he whispered gently into my ear.

What’s a young girl to do? I slapped his pimpled face and forcefully said, “Don’t ever say that to me again until you mean it.” He was 15, and I was 13. I was mature enough to know a 15-year-old didn’t understand the meaning of love. Apparently, I was wrong. Our relationship blossomed, and five years later we were married.

The Vietnam War was raging in 1968. The Tet Offensive had taken the lives of many Americans and Vietnamese. I thought we were safely hidden from the draft behind a college exemption, but Uncle Sam found us and insisted upon the service of my new husband. I never considered that honor would demand his joining up to fight for this nation and for the liberty of the Vietnamese people.

January of the following year Dave reported for duty and was assigned to the U.S. Navy Special Forces as a riverboat gunner in the elite Brown Water Black Berets. He and his companions would patrol the rivers in the treacherous Mekong Delta.

July brought the news every military wife fears. Dave had been wounded.

The Navy captain knocked on my door, placing a telegram in my hands, “… severe blast damage to the face, arms and trunk … third degree burns over 30 percent of his body … critically injured.” It was a death sentence, and I knew my husband’s survival required a miracle.

Dave was transported from a field hospital west of Saigon to Japan. For eight grueling days he struggled for life. After stabilizing, he was medevaced to Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas, the finest burn center in the world.

A gurney carried my love into 14 months of hospitalization, countless surgeries and a life of suffering. Back then, there were no private rooms for the critically injured. Seriously wounded soldiers writhing in pain lined the walls of a common ward. Walking the halls of the tormented, I searched for my handsome young prince.

What I found broke the heart of this young bride. Dave’s body was horrifically swollen, his head to the width of his shoulders, with no hair and only one ear. From the waist up he was black from the burns and covered with a milky-white medication that could not hide the huge chunks of missing flesh. His charred body was almost unrecognizable and oozed with corruption. Surely, this could not be the man I had married two years earlier.

Surveying the mutilated face, I gently kissed what was left of parched lips and peered through his sky-blue eyes into the depth of his anguished soul.

“Welcome home, Davey. I love you.”

Love is commitment — for richer, for poorer, for better, for worse, in sickness and in health till death do us part. I did not marry Dave Roever because he was the most handsome man I had ever seen or because he had the strongest body. I married him because he was gentle and kind. He was patient and longsuffering. He was loyal and a faithful friend. Our commitment of fidelity could not be broken, though the flames of hell tried.

Since his injury we have traveled the world sharing the story of an overcoming faith and an uncompromising love to those in need of encouragement and a compassionate touch from our Heavenly Father. From high school gymnasiums to the White House, from the steamy jungles of Vietnam in missionary endeavors to touring with the military on the battlefields of Iraq, across the airwaves of radio and television, and printed in countless magazines and books, our love story has been a statement to the world of devotion and God’s intervention in human affairs.

For more than 40 years Dave has whispered gently into my ear, “I love you.” What’s a girl to do? I kiss his wrinkled and scarred face, rejoicing in our commitment to each other and respond accordingly, “I love you, too.”


BRENDA ROEVER ministers internationally with husband Dave Roever through Dave Roever Evangelistic Association. For more information, visit www.daveroever.org.

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