Boot-Camp Brotherhood: The Martyrs’ Walk Pushes Men Closer to God and Out of Their Comfort Zone
Initiative is designed to challenge Christian men physically, mentally and spiritually.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Martyrs’ Walk men’s boot camp is designed to challenge Christian men physically, mentally and spiritually to die to self by pushing them out of their comfort zone. It is intended to kick-start a deeper relationship with God and is a time where authentic bonds between men are formed.
It is an immersive experience based on the principles of brotherhood, sacrifice and prayer that has been described as an “Ignatian retreat-meets-military boot camp.”
Created by Jason Murphy, host of The Obligation podcast aimed at inspiring men to be the best men, husbands and fathers they can be, The Martyrs’ Walk boot camp takes place over three days in locations near Charlotte.
Men on The Martyrs’ Walk are guided through outdoor challenges, hear motivating testimonies, are given opportunities to break through barriers to spiritual growth, and learn how to become faithful Christian warriors for their families and society.
“What prompted this is the recognition that men need to know that there are other men out there to motivate them and walk with them,” Murphy said. “That’s the whole idea of a boot camp. Men are put through the rigors, and we want to make sure when things get bad we don’t leave our brothers behind.”
“Men need each other! Our Lord chose Simon the Cyrenian to show we need other men. He chose to have another man help him carry his cross,” he added.
Murphy leads a team of Catholic men, some with military experience, on the three-day boot camp. All men in the instructor unit possess a burning desire to help more men die to self, connect with their Creator, and work to get their families to heaven.
“I don’t think modern man knows how to sacrifice or understands all that can be attained by penance and sacrifice,” Murphy said. “We show men how in fear and pain we shrink from what we are capable of; then we demonstrate that we are capable of so much more. The world wants us to live in fear and rely on people and not be grounded Christian men who lean on Christ and not the secular world.”
Jared Yutzy, a married father of two from Pennsylvania, attended the first walk held in August. He is in the OCIA program and will enter the Catholic Church at the Easter vigil next spring.
“I participated in The Martyrs’ Walk because I wanted to grow and be stretched spiritually,” Yutzy said. “The physical challenges over the weekend definitely take you to a level where it’s mind over body. In that physicality, there is a mystery.”
“In those moments of pain and stretching physically is where we learn to pray in the moment. I found, in praying in difficult moments, that my suffering can turn into prayers for those in purgatory, for those still on earth, for my own sanctification,” he added.
The Martyrs’ Walk also helps men encounter the topics of death and judgment and what sin does not only to oneself, but to God and to others. “The world is very much about what makes you feel good. We learned about the extreme weight of sin in our lives and how we will have to answer for that someday,” Yutzy added.
Christian Lopez, a married father of one daughter, came from Texas to attend the August boot camp.
“I’ve always felt that my Catholic faith takes on more of a warrior aspect,” Lopez said. “My patron saint is St. Michael the Archangel. I believe men are to be protecting of others and disciplined, like in the military. I always wanted to do something with a little of the physical and a little of the spiritual aspect, so the boot camp was the answer.”
Lopez realized during The Martyrs’ Walk that he is not alone in his faith journey. “Your brothers are next to you. You realize you have to surrender to God. He’s with you in your prayer. That impacted me. Going through those things at the walk really allowed me to really rely on God. A lot of times I rely on myself. I learned to rely on him and be intentional; whether it be physical suffering or spiritual, you really felt you can rely on God,” he explained.
“We’re here for a short time, and what are we doing with that time?” Lopez asked. “This helped me realize the impact of my sin and the impact of those around me, how much my sin hurts Christ, hurts myself and others. This walk really opened up my eyes about my role as a Catholic man and what God wants us to do.”
Stephen Ross, a married father of two from South Carolina, also commented on the brotherhood among the men who participated in the August boot camp.
“I have gained brothers for life,” Ross said. “I have gained a group of men I know I can lean on when needed.”
Ray Bassilion, a married father with two daughters from New York, echoed his remarks. “When I first heard about The Martyrs’ Walk, I knew it would be an extremely challenging experience, both physically and mentally, but I also knew that on the other side of it was a brotherhood that I so desperately seek,” he said.
“This kind of brotherhood does not come easily; you must prove your worth, your dedication to faith, and your commitment to your brothers,” Bassilion explained. “The Martyrs’ Walk taught me the true meaning of brotherhood. I need the help of my brothers, as together we are stronger.”
All of the participants are grateful for Murphy’s dedication to to lead The Martyrs’ Walk, with the goal of leading men in the intense spiritual battle they face in modern society.
“Jason has been given a gift by God to speak in the moment,” Yutzy said. “It’s all God, not Jason. It’s a true gift.”
The next The Martyrs’ Walk will be held Nov. 30-Dec. 2. Registration is open until Nov. 20. Readers can go online to TheMartyrsWalk.com for more information.