On a beautiful winter’s day — with crystal clear blue skies and a cool breeze –a New Mexico native and American hero was laid to rest on Friday afternoon in Belen, New Mexico. United States Marine Sgt. Garrett A. “Bear” Misener, who served his country honorably, was killed in action in Afghanistan on December 26, 2010, just a few weeks from finishing his sixth combat deployment.
The only son of Gary Misener, who serves as my (yes, he technically belongs to the church, but on this day, I claim him as mine) Music Pastor at Bethel Baptist Church in Alamogordo, NM, Garrett was buried next to his favorite uncle — Gary’s brother, Randy — who himself served honorably as a New Mexico State Police Officer.
Garrett’s life and service was honored by the estimated 200 in attendance at the graveside service. Family and friends, active-duty military personnel, veterans’ groups (Patriot Riders, American Legion, and VFW), government officials (including a personal representative of U.S. Senator Tom Udall), and Baptist pastors and ministers came from far and wide to pay their respects to the Misener family.
Both Garrett’s dad, Gary, and his granddad, Milford, have served New Mexico Baptist churches for decades. There were no fewer than 20 Baptist pastors and ministers who came to honor not only Garrett’s service to his country, but to honor the Misener family’s service to the Lord.
The impact that the Miseners have had on New Mexico and beyond cannot be overestimated. Garrett, who did not follow his father or grandfather into full-time Christian ministry, nevertheless ministered to countless people throughout his all-too-short time on this earth.
Whether stateside or deployed overseas in Iraq (five times) or Afghanistan (his final assignment), Garrett was a minster of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. From leading small-group Bible studies with his men to giving away a new leather-bound Bible to an Iraqi, Garrett found a way to share the love of Christ wherever he went.
In some ways, Garrett’s Kingdom impact will have an even further reach than his dad or granddad. By planting the seeds of the Gospel in faraway lands like Iraq and Afghanistan, Garrett was fulfilling the mission that God had given to him — the same mission that Jesus has given to all of His followers — to GO and make disciples, even if that meant being sent by the U.S. Government to what must have seemed like the ends of the earth.
On the night of December 26, 2010, Garrett’s missions came to an end. The mission that the United States Marine Corps had given him in Afghanistan came to a heroic, although tragic end. On Friday, January 7, 2011, Sgt. Garrett Misener’s body was laid to rest at Terrace Grove Cemetery in Belen, NM, with the full military honors and respect that he earned through his service to our country in time of war:
“On behalf of the President of the United States, the Commandant of the Marine Corps, and a grateful nation, please accept this flag as a symbol of our appreciation for your loved one’s service to Country and Corps.”
On that night, almost two weeks ago, the mission that God had given to Garrett came to an end. We will never know this side of heaven the reason for the timing and circumstances of Garrett’s home going. But, we can know that Garrett is now at rest, in the arms of His Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!
And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on. Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors for their deeds follow them!”(Revelation 14:13)
With bagpipes playing “Amazing Grace,” family and friends spontaneously began singing the words to that great hymn of the faith. I can think of no better send off for a son, grandson, brother, friend, patriot, hero, Marine, and minister. “Well done, My good and faithful servant.” Well done, indeed!