Mark Stark – Eating Manna in the Desert

Mar 26, 2003 03:15 PM EST

As the Israelites ate manna in the dessert to sustain their lives, members aboard the USS Harry S. Truman share spiritual food through the bible study, “Experiencing God.” Mark Stark, gather with fellow solders at the small room with stained glass windows and rich blue curtains to teach and share the bible message.

"I knew for myself that this was one more opportunity to build my relationship with God," said Stark, a minister at Providence Road Church of Christ, his home church in Texas. "I thought that others would also want to learn and grow from it."

Francisco Jusino, who goes by Frank, a new Christian as of just a few weeks ago. He gave his life to Christ at one of the gospel services held on Sunday nights and jumped at the chance to grow his new faith through the Experiencing God course.

"This course helped me so much in my new faith," said Jusino. "I had to give up my hidden agenda of wanting my life to be right by my reasons and focus on God's agenda -- one day at a time."

Wade Melton, a Greek Orthodox Christian from Virginia Beach, Va., said he liked the way the study focused on communication with God and making God-based decisions.

"Going through this study really helped me realize that I wasn't putting God at the forefront," said Melton, an electronic warfare technician who has been in the Navy for more than 17 years. "I'm using what I've learned to share by e-mail with my 9-year old son back home. I tell him what God gives us and what we need to give back to him -- our complete trust."

Stark himself had a life-changing moment when he was preparing to teach one of the units on resentment. The tension between he and his roommate wrought anger and resentment in Stark; soon, Stark realized that he could not teach the lesion if he could not apply it to his own situation, and thereafter went to the coworker to apologize.

"I cried in front of him -- but after it was over, I felt like I could breathe again," Stark said. "If I'm experiencing a relationship with my heavenly Father, I can't act like a hypocrite, holding grudges against other people."

Since that day, Stark said he has felt no resentment or bad feelings toward the coworker.

"God helped me turn it around -- I don't have to live with that kind of excess baggage," Stark said.

The men agreed with a statement made by Melton on how the study has ultimately impacted their lives.

"I've said, 'God, you've got it -- I can't handle it but you can,'" Melton recounted. "I'm learning every day as a Christian, and I'm keeping my book close by. There's a lot of good notes in there."

By Pauline J.