‘Jesus in fur’ brings comfort, joy, healing to veterans

Originally published on Western Recorder –  www.westernrecorder.org

Fort Campbell—Molly, a military missionary’s therapy dog, shares the love of Christ with those in need by being “Jesus in fur” through the ministry Canines for Christ. Molly recently made her 1,000th visit in that capacity.

“Twenty-two veterans tragically commit suicide in the United States every day. But when we get a therapy or service dog involved, it drops to almost zero,” Ron Leonard, a North American Mission Board MSC missionary to the military at Fort Campbell, said. “Our therapy dog Molly assists and comforts our vets struggling with PTSD and thoughts of suicide, being ‘Jesus in furs’ and stopping suicide in its tracks!”

At three weeks old, Molly and her mother and brothers were left out in 18-degree weather to die. Someone found them and took them to a shelter. At six weeks, Molly was adopted by the Leonards and her mother and brothers were adopted across the United States.

A few years after they adopted Molly, the Leonards began searching for a way that they could use her to serve Christ. They found a way in 2012 through Canines for Christ.

The organization has 500 volunteers in 29 states and exists to “use ordinary people and their beloved dogs to share God’s message of love, hope, kindness and compassion to the community,” its website states.

Since 2012, Molly has made 1,000 visits and traveled 20,000 miles. She even has her own business card, complete with John 3:16 and the sinner’s prayer printed on it.

The visits that Molly and the Leonards make open doors to the gospel because people ask about their Canine for Christ vests. The team has seen hundreds of opportunities to share the gospel and dozens of people come to know Christ.

“Ron Leonard and Molly are wonderful ambassadors for Christ. Each day they go out into the community and bring comfort, joy, love, compassion and happiness along with hope to the many people that they visit,” Larry Randolph, ministry leader at Canines for Christ, said.

“Ron and Molly specifically visit the veterans in various facilities and minister to those that have PTSD,” he continued. “The visits from Ron and Molly release anxiety, tension, help with depression and bring calmness and comfort to these people that are experiencing severe anxiety and social disorders.”

“She enriches people with her warm nose and soulful eyes. Ron ministers to them with the love of Jesus in his heart. It is a beautiful combination of one of God’s most graceful creatures and man serving him in this amazing and unique ministry,” Randolph added.

In addition to the work that the Leonards and Molly do with the military, Molly also spends her time ministering in nursing homes, children’s homes, and hospitals. Molly’s newest venture is working with victims of human trafficking as a therapy dog.

“The Leonards have a unique ministry to military families, meeting physical and emotional needs as they point them to Jesus,” said Joy Bolton, executive director of the Kentucky WMU.

She continued, “In dealing with PTSD, which affects the entire family, not just the individual, their dog Molly is a great asset to the ministry. It was wonderful to have the Leonard’s at the recent state WMU Annual Meeting to lead a conference about their ministry and provide ideas for churches on how to minister to families who are suffering because of PTSD.”

Molly spends her days working with PTSD patients in Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama and Ohio. The Leonards use their ministry with Molly to educate churches and individuals on the effects of PTSD and how to respond biblically, Leonard said.

“A dog really alleviates that stress within the PTSD environment. So that’s what Molly’s done. She’s worked with 100s of PTSD patients and we find out if we can get that PTSD patient or that person a dog, that we can really drop down the suicide rate,” he added.

“She just does what a dog does. She just absolutely starts loving on people and people start loving on her. After that, the rest is history,” Leonard added. (WR)

 

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