“I don’t take this opportunity lightly,” explains Chris Tomczak, speaking about his participation in the flag presentation at this year’s SoCal Harvest Military Appreciation Night. “The flag represents what I stand for, regardless of what’s going on in the world, it’s who I am.”
Chris is a 50-year-old veteran of the U.S. Navy; he served from 1987 to 1990 during the Gulf War, and was in the reserves from 1990 to 1993, having to be on high alert during the tumultuous days of the Los Angeles riots.
He enlisted in the U.S. Navy after his 18th birthday. “I came from a single-income family so there wasn’t any money for college.” He saw the military as his best choice for an education but he ended up getting so much more than he anticipated. “I had so much fun it wasn’t even like a job, I traveled all over the country, to [places like] Panama, Mazatlan, Vancouver, but what was most memorable are the people I met.”
When he left the service, tragedy hit. His mother passed away of a massive heart attack and he recalls those days as being very dark, full of bars and drinking. But his time in the military taught him resilience, and although he wasn’t walking closely with the Lord, there was always a sense that God was with him even in tragedy, and he knew God had a plan for his life, but he couldn’t see it yet.
Years later another tragedy, his dad passed away. And Chris knew he had to make some changes. He fondly remembers his dad telling him, “You guys better be saved cuz I’ll be waiting for you all in Heaven!” Chris wanted to set a good foundation for his children and to give back to God. “I wanted a different life for my family, that’s when we dug into church and I devoted my life to Jesus.” Soon after, Chris, his wife, and his daughter were all baptized together!
What does the future look like for Chris? “I want to help vets get the help and resources they need because it can be hard cutting through all the red tape, and I want to serve my community and make an impact. . . .”
This will be the very first SoCal Harvest for Chris. He and his family made every effort to be here Friday night, not only to join other military servicemen and women on the field but to experience worshipping and praising God along with hundreds of other believers. “That is going to be awesome and it gives me goosebumps just thinking about it!”