“Mom, if I lose my life, I’ll just be waiting ahead of you."
Faith Under Fire By Marina Scofield, Volunteer Storyteller
Bob and Debbie Gehret didn’t anticipate the plans God had laid out for their first born son, Kyle. The eldest of three, Kaitlin and Jacob’s big brother, Kyle was just a toddler when the family began attending Mariners Church. As young parents, Debbie stayed home with the kids while Bob went to work, neither of them imagining Kyle would later wind up in the military, facing life threatening situations every day, and worlds away in an active warzone. “It was a difficult time,” said Debbie. “It was like standing in front of a freight train, there was little I could do to change his mind. His senior exit project was about having a career in the military. His mind was made up.”
Bob was very proud and supportive of his son, but Debbie worried and prayed constantly. “One time a woman asked me how I could allow him to join. “It hurt, she said. “But Kyle was old enough to make this decision, and he was laser focused on the path to becoming a Marine.” Kyle was always confident in his faith and he would always say to me, ‘Mom, if I lose my life, I’ll just be waiting ahead of you’” Deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan By September of 2005 just three months after his High School graduation, Kyle was off to the Marines boot camp in San Diego. By then Debbie was steeped into the Mariners’ church family, having spent some years on the worship team, making many friends along the way. “The first time Kyle was getting ready to deploy to Iraq was tough. I remember the worship team chose the song, ‘Blessed Be Your Name’. The lyrics, ‘When I'm found in the desert place, though I walk through the wilderness,’ were difficult to sing, “ She was asked to share her testimony with the church then, but she could barely utter it without choking up. Debbie realized how her own survival and Kyle’s depended so much on God. “I couldn’t imagine doing this without God and not being able to pray.” Prayer Chain Miracles in the Thick of It Early on Debbie established an email chain with over 250 friends and church members sending updates and prayer requests for Kyle’s protection while he was in danger. It was more than a coping mechanism. “There was nothing we could do to help. You can send packages and pray. There was nothing else you could do.” He said later that he was shot at everyday when he was there. This was all in the days before Facebook." Debbie created a MySpace during that first deployment; because she would be to tell when he had been online last...a sign that he was still okay.
By now Kyle had re-enlisted and was deployed two more times to Afghanistan, seeing IED bombings hit some of his friends and fellow Marines. “It seemed there was always something bad happening. It was a hotbed of activity,” said Debbie. But it seemed God was protecting Kyle who, by then, had survived more events that didn’t make a lot of sense.
“Every call was bad,” said Bob. “I took young Jacob camping to a very remote location in the Sierras, out on a rock island at Lake Utica. I couldn’t believe I received a cell phone call from Kyle while there. Kyle’s entire patrol had been hit, and he survived. “
He also survived other IED bombings including having saved his patrol after their Humvee flipped over into a canal filled with running water. “Kyle was trained to be a Morterman but he never used them in any of his deployments,” said Debbie.
When other Marines asked Kyle how he managed to stay safe, Kyle acknowledged, “People are praying for me at home.” “We prayed very specifically for Kyle,” said Debbie. There were times as if he had a bubble of protection around him. So we expanded the prayers to those around him.” A Man of God After 8 years in the military and three deployments, Kyle finally came home. He was celebrated in the way a proud family would. His aunt arranged for veteran group, Patriot Guard Riders to escort him all the way home, where the family threw a party in his honor at their community center.
Kyle used the GI bill to attend the Tulsa Welding School and is working for Honeywell. Through Kyle’s best friend and fellow Marine brother, Nick, he met his wife, Cherish, a Christian woman. The couple is settled in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, Kyle was baptized in 2016. “He’s a Man of God,” said Debbie, “We are very proud and happy for him.”