On November 18, 1952, LT E. Royce Williams from his ship the USS Oriskany, off the coast of Korea, was given a bombing mission against North Korean targets as part of a strike group. The pilots flew near a river that bordered the Soviet Union. Upon completing their mission, they received information that 7 MIGs were scrambled to intercept them. Williams was ordered to return and provide protection for his ship.
Sadao Munemori was born in Los Angeles, California. As a young man he joined the Japanese-American 442ndRegimental Combat Team which included the 100thInfantry Battalion, the most heavily decorated unit in World War II. Sadao, while fighting on a hillside near Seravezza, Italy, was faced with a wounded squad leader and an entire team pinned down by machine gun fire. Private First Class Munemori decided to engage in a one-man frontal attack. Using grenades he wiped out two machine gun nests but in the process became completely exposed to enemy fire.
Mark 10:47,48—When he heard that it was Jesus the Nazarene, he began to cry out, “Son of David, Jesus, have mercy on me!” Many people told him to keep quiet, but he was crying out all the more, “Have mercy on me, Son of David!”
I am motivated by this story for many reasons. First, Bartimaeus, the blind beggar mentioned above, was a man of faith. He had heard about Jesus and, when he realized the Son of God was close, he took action and cried out for mercy. Just because someone struggles or is disabled does not mean that person is necessarily deficient in faith.
2 Chronicles 32:1—After these faithful deeds, Sennacherib king of Assyria came and entered Judah. He laid siege to the fortified cities and intended to break into them.
I recently had the opportunity to respond to the blog of a friend, Dillon,* who suffers from a life-threatening disease. In his blog Dillon related the difference between “fading away” and “going out with a bang.” Immediately after reading his heart-felt thoughts, I was inclined to respond with the hope of the gospel. Below is my letter to which Dillon thoughtfully replied and which has opened up a channel for further sharing.
There is natural reason for Ukrainians to dread Russia taking over their country again—oppression under communism was intense and costly. Ukrainian Kostyantyn spent many years in a Soviet labor camp. The authorities disliked his actions as an elder in his church so they sent him to be re-educated. Over 200 pastors were also sent to the same camp.
Navy Petty Officer First Class Marcus Luttrell was the sole survivor of a US Navy SEAL team ambushed by Taliban fighters. Severely wounded, Luttrell somehow managed through great courage to evade an enemy zealous to kill him. Fortunately, members of the Afghan Sabray tribe found him and whisked him into their village. Despite incredible danger, the tribal chief protected him, fending off Taliban attacks until word reached nearby American forces who then came and rescued him.
In 1915, Rabbi Jeremy’s grandfather as a teenager recognized that if he stayed in Russia he was likely to be persecuted and deprived of basic freedoms. So, he left his family and walked—all the way to Israel. It took him one and half years to reach the port of Jaffa. I would imagine it was a dangerous trip full of excitement, fighting cold and hunger as well as numerous other challenges. With a group of men touring Israel (including my two sons and son-in-law), we listened to Jeremy share life lessons at Yad Hashmona Country Hotel.
Dmitri determined to educate his sons from the Bible at a time when Russia was dominated by communism. Soon neighbors began joining the family Bible study which grew to about 75 people crammed into his little house and standing outside in hearing range. Angry at his refusal to stop teaching the Bible, an officer and soldiers pushed inside during a time of fellowship and arrested him. As the authorities were leaving, a small grandmother waved a finger at the officer and declared, “You have laid hands on a man of God and you will NOT survive.” Two nights later that officer died of a heart attack. The fear of God so filled that community that 150 people joined the next time of teaching. Meanwhile Dmitri was sent to jail.
Kim Jong Un, North Korea’s youthful dictator pushes his nation towards the brink of war. Threatening a “‘preemptive nuclear attack’ on the United States, a ‘final destruction’ of South Korea, and a ‘nuclear attack’ on Tokyo” leaves much of the world holding its collective breath. While we should pray that war does not break out, we should also remember that even bullies and police states cannot keep God from revealing His love in amazing ways.
Dr. Ben Carson, a pediatric neurosurgeon, spoke at the National Prayer Breakfast. Sitting just two seats away from the podium, President Barack Obama listened intently as this godly doctor shared observations about what is troublesome in America and his prescriptive ideas as to what would change the country for the better. It was a bold, uncompromising message delivered by a humble, God-fearing man. Some in the media castigated him for daring to speak openly against policies connected to the president. Prophetically, the Dr. Carson emphasized the dangers of political correctness in his message.
When I look back on my life, one of the scariest memories I have was the time I was rock climbing. Somehow I got into a position where I was stuck. I was frozen to a giant slab of granite knowing I had to move but scared that if I lost my grip I would plummet far enough that my chances of getting badly hurt were considerable. I still remember asking for God’s help and for the immediate peace that came over me as He answered.