Jerry L. Peters Jr. strides through a room with confidence, his steady gait indicative of his single-minded purpose of equipping Christians to grapple with the enemy's schemes.
Peters, an endorsed U.S. Missions Critical Incident Ministries chaplain, hardly looks like someone disabled in the line of duty as a deputy U.S. marshal in 1998.
Assigned to his native Kansas City, Missouri, Peters worked for seven years on covert operations, served felony warrants, shielded those in the witness protection program, and guarded federal judges who had been threatened.
While en route to serve a warrant, his vehicle was broadsided by a driver who ran a stop sign at 45 mph. Peters suffered severe spinal damage, particularly to his neck.
"Losing my career and losing my health were difficult to overcome," Peters says. Yet while recovering, Peters says the Lord brought to mind three Scriptures that have become his motivation: Jeremiah 29:11-14, 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, and 1 Peter 4:19.
"Those who suffer according to God's will should commit themselves to their Creator and continue to do good," Peters says. "Our responsibility is to put our trust in Him."
After the 1998 crash, doctors kept telling Peters what he couldn't do anymore. They said he would be confined to a wheelchair, unable to lift anything again. During the next two years, Peters endured a plethora of medical tests, surgeries to insert a steel plate and rods in his spine, and extensive physical therapy. Although he has permanent nerve damage in both hands, both arms, and his right leg, Peters worked himself back into tip-top physical shape.
Subsequently, the Department of Defense deployed him three times to Afghanistan to assist training elite indigenous forces in counterterrorism, tactical response, border security, and dignitary protection. More recently, he has worked with Operation High Ground, an organization that assists veterans and their families.
In 2003, his only son, Joshua, then 19, sustained a permanently damaged left foot when ambushed in Iraq while a member of a U.S. Army special operations team.
"Jerry is not someone who will quit," says Peters' wife, Cherie, a former school principal who is working on a doctorate in educational administration. "The word can't is not in his vocabulary. He doesn't view setbacks as obstacles, but rather as learning blocks."
He went through International Critical Incident Stress Foundation training and was ordained as an Assemblies of God minister. He found an affinity for helping others through the trials of life and crisis events.
Peters began to minister to people almost by happenstance because of all he had endured. He found God connecting him with others in similar situations. People opened up to him about the trauma they experienced, expressing emotions they never had revealed to anyone else.
Now 58, Peters continues to speak in local churches, focusing on helping others understand the healing process that needs to occur after a loss, and how God can use past tragedies to assist others along their own journey of grief.
Scott McChrystal, AG Chaplaincy Ministries military/Veterans Affairs representative and endorser, attests to Peters' effectiveness.
"Jerry is a warrior for Jesus Christ, fueled by an intense passion to serve others," McChrystal says. "Through personal experience in the trenches of life, he provides practical insights into spiritual warfare."
This year, Jerry and Cherie, who have been married since 1979, left their longtime home in Kansas City, Missouri, to travel full time in a recreational vehicle as U.S. MAPS missionary candidates.
Earlier this year, Peters finished Tactical Christianity: Becoming a Warrior for Christ, the first of a planned five-part book series. The second book, Tactical Christianity: Sailing the Sea of Adversity, should be published in January 2017.