A friend wrote this as a contribution for this ministry. So off the Director’s Desk and onto the website…
Contributed by John:
In our lives, God uses incidents both small and great to open our eyes to the truth and call us to repentance.
I wrote this several years ago as perhaps a “flight of fancy”, the letter of a soldier deployed overseas to his Dad. I hope you’ll enjoy it. I’ve shortened it a bit to fit here.
(Note: there is no evidence that this actually happened…but it could have.)
Sorry for taking so long to write you and mom, but it’s the first opportunity I’ve had to write since I got here. I want to let you know that I arrived at my new duty station safely and in one piece. I hope to be able to bring my wife and family over in the next couple of months, after I get settled in. Fortunately there seems to be plenty of housing available, I just need some time to secure quarters. I hit the ground running, and haven’t really had a break yet.
I guess that’s to be expected when you’re part of an occupation force trying to keep the peace! I’ve been told by other officers that I can expect to be here quite a while!
I’ll tell you, this place is unlike any place I’ve been to in my career!
The days are hot!!! In fact the sweat runs off us in rivulets from the time the sun comes up until goes down in the evening. And talking about dusty…seems that a fine grit works into every bit of our equipment, and mixes with our sweat to get into our ears, eyes, nose…anything it can get into. The nights are something else…The pleasant cool of the evening soon turns into a bone chilling cold, so that by morning we’ve put on about every piece of snivel gear we own…Then it gets hot again Ugh!
It really is a strange land! Their government is supposed to be friendly to us, but I think that depends on which way the wind is blowing at any given time. I really don’t trust them…In fact I wouldn’t be surprised if they were behind a lot of the trouble we have here. Peacekeeping…yeah, right.
Dad, something happened that I’ve got to tell you about. I know that you’re going to think that I’m crazy, or that the heat has gotten to me (if it hadn’t been for the fact that a squad of soldiers was with me and saw it, I’d think that I was crazy), but I swear that what you’re about to read is true!
Part of what we do, is to keep tabs on people identified as possible troublemakers…We are supposed to keep an eye on them and their activities. We have a “black list” of those who we suspect are insurgents, and we are all familiar with their names.
Well, I was on patrol with a squad of men in the vicinity of an outlying village about a week ago, when I spotted one of the men on the black list. This one is a preacher that draws crowds wherever he goes.
As we approached the burial tombs just outside the village, we saw a large crowd gathered who were listening to this preacher. Obviously someone had died, as there was a lot of crying and wailing going on. We started to draw closer just to make sure that this was nothing more than a funeral. We figured that it was just about over, because the tomb was already sealed.
Then it happened. A group of men started to unseal the tomb. We immediately moved to stop them from desecrating the grave, but we were still some distance away and couldn’t get there fast enough.
When the grave was opened, the stench of death pervaded the air even from a distance (we were down wind…and Dad, I know the smell of death). Obviously by this time we were moving quickly to get there and stop it.
The next thing I know, this preacher raises his arms and says something in his language; and I swear, instantly the air turned as pure and sweet as the air after a morning rain at home…And the dead man came to the mouth of the tomb still wrapped in grave clothes!!!
We stopped in our tracks with our mouths hanging open…Dad, this guy was dead!!! But we saw him walk to the mouth of the tomb!!! Alive…Crazy as it sounds, it happened!
It was then that this preacher turned and I looked straight into his eyes, and what I saw stunned me even more than a dead man coming to life (if that’s possible).
We are used to eyes full of loathing and hatred, but this man’s eyes were full of a love that I’ve never before experienced…It seemed to bathe me in a warm glow, and I couldn’t move because of it. I swear I wanted to fall on my face at this man’s feet and weep at that moment…I really can’t even begin to describe it! It’s almost as if I was in some kind of a trance.
Looking at my men who were also frozen in place, I could tell that they were having a similar experience.
When I came to myself, the preacher and the crowds were gone, so my men and I returned to base. We agreed that none of us would talk about what happened (for obvious reasons), but I can’t get it out of my mind.
I’ve since learned that he is an itinerant preacher from a small, out of the way village called Nazareth. I hope that one day I’ll be able to talk to him.
I’ve got to close now and get this into the post, as the ship leaves on the evening tide.
I’ll let you know how it turns out.
Give my love to Mom and Sis.
Centurion, The Italian Regiment.