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WITandWISDOM(tm) – October 30, 2007
Before you put on a frown, make absolutely sure there are no smiles available. – Jim Beggs, Author
~~~~~~~ SPECIAL THOUGHTS:
A Survivor’s Tale
By James H. Harris as told to Minnis M. Coe
Part 2 of 2 [October 29, 30]
. . . We were the first GIs they had captured. After the local burgomaster was summoned, my buddy, Pratt, and I were forced to stand about 25 feet from 10 men selected to be a firing squad.
The burgomaster gave the command: "Ready, aim . . ."
Now we continue . . .
I was petrified. I knew I was going to die, but at only 20 years old I desperately wanted to live. I didn't know what happened to the dead and could only think of boiling cauldrons in a place called "hell" meant to torture the unsaved.
Then the last command: "Fire!"
There were 10 clicks, but not a single gun fired. The burgomaster ordered the farmers to reload. They pulled the chambers back, and 10 bullets fell on the ground.
Again the burgomaster called, "Ready, aim, fire!"
Another 10 clicks, but no report.
After this happened once more, six soldiers appeared and ordered the firing squad to drop their guns.
A fellow crew member and I were transported to a stalag in Frankfurt. Half of my 7'x5' cell was filled by my bunk. The walls were painted gray. It had no windows, no ventilation, no toilet. A single, bare light bulb hanging from the ceiling burned 24 hours a day. We could leave the cell only once every 12 hours.
For breakfast we received about two ounces of peppermint tea and a little wafer of bread. For lunch we got another taste of tea, bread, and about four ounces of sour barley.
In the mornings we were awakened at 4:00 and taken to the interrogation center, a cemetery in a forest a few miles away. One time we were given a shovel and told to dig a pit 2' wide by 6' deep. We tried to dig as slowly as possible, but by noon we were waist-deep in the hole, and by evening up to our shoulders.
When we were pulled out of the hole we were ordered to stand with our heels at the end of the hole, facing the firing squad.
The interrogating officer said: "Tell me what I want to know or that is your grave."
From somewhere I gained an unknown strength that allowed me a certain measure of peace. We were eventually taken back to camp. I spent the rest of the war in a stalag in ' West Poland.
When the Russian army came within 11 miles of our prison, we were evacuated. Ten thousand of us were moved in columns of 1,800 every other day. I could stand, but I walked with great difficulty since my injuries after bailing out of the plane had never healed properly.
We walked 550 miles in 91 days. We called it the Great Black Death March. We marched in snow, ice, and sleet. As I stumbled along—cold and hungry—1 cried out: "God, if You exist, if You'll save me, I'll seek You and serve You." For three days I rode in the "death wagon," too sick to stand. Of the 1,850 men in my section, only 250 of us lived to be liberated.
On returning to the United States I remembered my vow to God and began searching for Him. I drove from San Francisco to Los Angeles looking for some evidence of a personal God who cared about me. A friend later told me God wasn't to be found on the road, but in churches. I had never been to church, neither was I interested in going. In the Army a chaplain told us that sinners go to hell to suffer eternal torment, while saints rode on clouds in heaven. Both concepts disgusted me.
But I began visiting churches. After going to several, I convinced myself there was no God, and I reasoned I had fulfilled my obligation made to Him when He preserved my life during the death march.
At the time I was working at the U.S. Navy shipyard in Vallejo, California. My fire watch, a small man, was filled with hatred for the world and everything in it. One day, while working with our welding equipment, he nudged me and said, "Let's have some fun. See that fellow coming toward us." I looked and saw one of the tallest men I had ever seen. "Hey, brother," my companion said to him, "you'd better get ready to meet your Lord."
The huge man walked up to us and in a voice like a foghorn bellowed, "I'm ready. You're the ones who'd better get ready."
The little fellow behind me whispered: "Don't listen to him, don't read anything he gives you, or you'll be as crazy as he is."
As I looked up into his huge face, I saw peace and felt a power that seemed to radiate from him. "You go to church?" I asked.
"Yes," he replied. "Do you go to church?"
"I don't," I replied, explaining that I knew nothing about religion.
He took a Bible from his pocket, opened it, and said, "This is what God says." Never once did he tell me what he thought, or what his church taught. It was always, "This is what God says.”
That was the beginning of a new life for me, a changed life that brought me greater miracles than those I experienced during my service during the war in the Army Air Corps. I became a Christian when I was 22 years old, but God had been pursuing me—and protecting me—all those years; I just didn't know Him.
- After a career as pastor and missionary, James H. Harris passed to his rest in March of 2007.
Submitted by Mary
~~~~~~~ THIS & THAT:
In his delightful book Epitaphs for Eager Preachers, the late J.D. Grey - who served many years as pastor of the First Baptist Church of New Orleans - lists as the first such potential epitaph: "He Died Climbing." He talks about the need for preachers not to base decisions about God's call on a financial basis. Nevertheless, he reminds of the need for a church to provide adequately for the messenger in their midst. He shares this story:
"The father of President Woodrow Wilson was a Presbyterian preacher. One day a man observed the Rev. Mr. Wilson riding in a shiny buggy drawn by a sleek well-groomed horse. Noting that the preacher was shabbily dressed, the man remarked, 'Mr. Wilson, your horse looks better cared for than you do.'"
"To this remark Brother Wilson replied, 'Yes, that is right, for you see I take care of my horse and my church takes care of me.'"
J.D. Grey, Epitaphs for Eager Preachers, Broadman Press, 1972, p. 20, http://isbn.nu/9780805479041
Source: Preaching Now, http://www.preaching.com/newsletter/preachingnow/
~~~~~~~ KEEP SMILING:
No sense being pessimistic; it probably wouldn't work anyway.
Submitted by Lorraine
Student Wins Talent Show After School Reverses Decision That Banned Christian Song
Monroe, MI - A student at Monroe High School won first place in a school talent show last night by singing a Christian song that school officials had banned the day before the program. School officials reversed their position after Liberty Counsel became involved
and allowed sixteen-year-old sophomore James Whipper to perform the Christian rap song, "He's Calling."
After James performed to wild applause, a DJ for a local radio station that was broadcasting the event asked for an encore. During James's second performance, a roar swept through the crowd as students spontaneously joined in the chorus, singing "He's Calling" while pointing upward.
Liberty Counsel, October 11, 2007
Source: Weekend Encounter, by Dick Innes, Copyright (c) ACTS International, 2007, http://www.actsweb.org/subscribe.php