Ben Peterson ’12 is an eight-year U.S. Army veteran (two years in Iraq) and passionate evangelist, serving active and veteran United States Military and their families. Peterson is the Founder and CEO of Engage Your Destiny with a mission of going into the world to bring honor, hope, and healing to military veterans and their families. They labor toward a world without veteran suicide. Peterson and his team believe those who are willing to die for their country deserve to know the God who was willing to die for them.
Engage Your Destiny launched as Peterson began responding to stories of overwhelming brokenness from veterans. Sharing their narratives gave people who had long lived in silence a safe place to tell their difficult accounts of war. Many admitted it was the first time they had ever told anyone about their experiences. Peterson began reaching veterans and military through hosting honor events at churches to thank them for their service, tell his story, and preach the Gospel. He saw 68 veterans come to Christ that first year.
Then, opportunities at military bases started opening up after the daughter of an Army General came to an Engage Your Destiny event and suggested to her father that Peterson should be invited to speak on base.
A base in Arizona invited him to speak at a prayer breakfast and 35 soldiers came to Christ: almost half of what they’d seen the year before. Later that week, he sensed the Holy Spirit’s call for more; “…Go into the world and preach the Gospel.” Since then, more than 3,000 soldiers have given their lives to Christ at their events across the nation.
Peterson points to sobering statistics that drive his passion for his work:
- 22 Veterans commit suicide each day
- 60% of those suicides are Vietnam veterans
- 80% Veteran divorce rate
- 60% of Millennial service members are born into fatherless homes
- 400 VA service line calls per day
In addition to bringing the hope of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to those who have served or are actively serving in the military, a key to Engage Your Destiny’s ministry has been establishing intentional partnerships with ministries that can walk alongside veterans and military personnel to meet various needs
- CRU Military provides discipleship opportunities
- The Warriors Journey works with veterans and families through one-on-one mentorship
- SOF Missions: The Resiliency Project addresses psychological, physical, spiritual, and social wellness
- REBOOT Combat Recovery addresses military trauma
Over the last five years, they have been blessed and empowered by faith to bring life, hope, and healing to veteran communities, families, and active-duty military stationed all over the world. Evidence of lives impacted through these events includes:
- 6,000 Military trained through resiliency classes
- 3,024 Responses to faith
- 60% Connected into small groups
Soldiers are using these resources globally as well. Whether they are in boot camp at Fort Benning in Minnesota or as Rangers in Afghanistan, many are engaging with these messages from all over the world online:
- 260,000 Online Sermon views
- 368 Veterans, military, and families connected to resources
To reach out to Vietnam veterans—one of the most forgotten groups of veterans in U.S. history—a welcome home tribute is slated for Memorial Day weekend in 2022 at Daytona International Speedway in Florida. The Heroes Honor Festival will provide an opportunity to rally around deserving veterans, and to be inspired by their heroism and heart.
Peterson is making a difference for people and the Kingdom of God. He was awarded the Army Commendation Medal in 2009 for service in a combat zone. He lives near Minneapolis, Minnesota, volunteers with his church and the American Heart Association, is a past mentor for men undergoing alcohol and drug treatment at MN Adult and Teen Challenge, and assists day-to-day operations with People to People, aiding homeless families. He married his wife, Rachel, on Thanksgiving Day 2020, and they are expecting a son in December.
What began five years ago as an assignment from the Lord to carry the stories of hurting veterans, Engage Your Destiny is now a ministry impacting thousands. Peterson was recently recognized as a nominee for the Council of Christian College and Universities (CCCU) Young Alumnus Award.
On this Veterans Day, North Central University honors our veterans for their service to our country and alumnus Ben Peterson for his service to God’s Kingdom.
Tabby Finton and Nancy Zugschwert contributed to this article.