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Seattle Pacific University
Autumn 2007 | Volume 30, Number 2 | Alumni

Grace Under Fire

Wartime pen pals tell their story


Steve and Lynda Belgum, and their two sons.
From left: Steve, Mark, Zachary, and Lynda Belgum
On January 27, 1991, a young woman named Lynda Severson wrote a letter to U.S. Marine Corps Captain and Seattle Pacific University alumnus Steve Belgum ’83 telling him she was grateful for his service to their country. A friend had given her a list of Marines serving in Saudi Arabia, urging her to choose one as a pen pal.

The correspondents soon discovered they had much in common, including their Christian faith. After six months of writing, they met. On Veterans Day 1992, Steve proposed. And on May 29, 1993 — Memorial Day weekend — the veteran pen pals married.

Now, nearly 17 years after that first letter, their story has been chronicled in a book by Andrew Carroll titled Grace Under Fire: Letters of Faith in Times of War (WaterBrook Press, 2007). “If our letters witness to even one person, I would be happy,” says Lynda, citing 2 Corinthians 3:2: “You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody.”

Their pen-pal years gave Steve and Lynda a greater understanding both of the world and of their own country — an understanding they have passed on to their two sons. “Our country serves as a beacon of light because of the freedoms we enjoy,” Steve says. “Freedom to worship in the way we choose is high on the list.

“Our first responsibility as global Christians,” he continues, “is to get our relationship right with Jesus. The next is to share our faith with others. My time at SPU helped ensure I was grounded spiritually.”

God calls us to care for others, the Belgums emphasize. “We’ve served as a family on short-term mission trips,” notes Steve. He adds, “It’s important to reach out to those in the military. Many churches have a military ministry.”

— Photo by Carrie Rasmussen

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Department Highlights

Street Vision
A 2006 alumna gives homeless teens a voice — through the lens of a camera and a gallery showing in downtown Seattle.

Grace Under Fire
Letters between pen pals — one fighting a war, one on the home front — lead to a book.