Just wanted to follow up on a couple of more stories from chaplains that I heard during the Free Methodist Chaplains Annual Conference in Rochester, New York last week.
This particular chaplain wound up going to Quantico, Virginia in 1965 where he would go through Marine Corps Officer Training and be commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant. He tells of one incident during their training when one of their training NCOs (Non-Commissioned Officers), a sergeant, walked into the squad bay and announced, “The peace is over! We’re going to war!” Of course he was referring to Vietnam. If you’re a Marine you’ll appreciate this attitude. The rest of you will simply scratch your heads.
Later, after his Marine officer days were over, Dave would become a Navy chaplain, eventually retiring after many years of faithful service to God and country. But you have to ask the question: How did Dave get to this point in his life? Dave will tell you it was when two Christian men made a huge impact on him when he was in his teens.
During his high school years, his father took ill. Dave was wrestling with all the God stuff he heard about in church. He was far from convinced that this was a path he wanted to follow. You could say that the jury was still out. Dave was leaning away from trusting the Lord.
Dave and his folks lived in Wisconsin on a farm well removed from town. Only days after his father had been hospitalized, the weather turned severely cold, causing the water in their well to freeze. This was critical and life-threatening. One of the men from their church heard about their predicament and decided to do something about it. Every morning before going to work, this man would fill two ten-gallon jugs full of water, drive the ten miles from town to the farm and drop the water off on the front porch. He would come by later in the day to pick them up again for the next day’s delivery. Dave says he can remember waking up in the morning, hearing the water jugs thumping on the wooden porch. This man made these daily water deliveries seven days a week, from November till the middle of May when the well water finally thawed.
Dave’s father passed away during this time, leaving him lost and disheartened. Another man from church realized this young man needed another man to talk to. He showed up one Saturday morning at 5:00 am announcing that he needed someone to go fishing with him. Dave wasn’t sure what to do, so he went along. This occurred every Saturday throughout the summer, providing Dave with a man whom he could discuss his hurts and troubles.
Both of these men took on the responsibilities of caring for a hurting family, and in particular, a young man struggling with his faith. Later on, Dave realized that he wanted to be like these men. And if that meant following Jesus, then so be it.
The church today needs to have men and women like this. We need folks who will look for opportunities to touch the lives of those who have been hit hardest by life’s setbacks. Christians of all ages need to accept the responsibility of ministering to others in Jesus name. You can make a difference – just like these two men did in Dave’s life.
Saint Francis of Assisi is quoted as having said, “Preach the Gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words.”
Are you listening?