Hello Church Family,
When Pearl Harbor was attacked in December 1941 Desmond Doss was one of the many men in America who wanted to do something about it. Unfortunately, as a 7th Day Adventist, he had a moral conviction to never take the life of another human being (justified war or not). That obviously limited what he was able to do in the military but he decided to enlist anyway and served as a medic.
He vowed to never pick up a weapon to come to his defense, not even a combat knife. As he was serving in the military, his battalion was tasked with going to the Island of Okinawa, scaling a 400 ft. cliff and then taking the summit from enemy forces.
His battalion responded to those orders, went to the island of Okinawa, scaled the 400 ft. cliff and enemy forces were waiting for them on top of the plain. This place would later be known as the “hacksaw ridge” and a recent movie has popularized the event. The battle lasted for days. Many agree it was one of the bloodiest battles in the pacific theater during WWII.
After several days of battle, the enemy troops enacted a massive assault against the allied forces wounding hundreds of American soldiers. It forced them back down the cliff and they retreated from the fighting. The only people left on top of the plain were the enemy forces, the wounded American soldiers, and little ole Desmond Doss (without any weapons – not even a blade.)
As US troops were on the bottom of the cliff trying to regroup and come up with another line of attack they saw an American soldier declining from the top of the cliff by rope. After a few minutes they saw another one descend. After a while they began to put together what was going on. Little Desmond Doss had been running ALONE into enemy fire, tending to the wounded soldiers, bringing them back to the cliff, fixing them to rope and lowering them down the cliff to safety.
He did this for the next FIVE hours: racing alone into enemy fire, pulling his men out of jeopardy, leading them back to a place of safety and security. By the end of that night the Army estimates that Desmond Doss had saved 75 men. As our country awarded him the medal of honor (the highest honor we give), he was asked “What was going through your mind when you continued to run into danger like that?” His reply was, “I just kept prayin ‘Please Lord, help me save just one more.’”
Why do I tell you the story? Because we love these kinds of stories. That’s why the dramatization of this story in the movie Hacksaw Ridge was so successful. Obviously, we love superhero movies in which a superhero lays down his life to rescue us. But, this is different. Desmond Doss wasn’t a superhero. He was just an ordinary, everyday, average kind of guy. He was just a shipyard worker from Virginia.
We love stories in which an average everyday person (like you or me) is used to do incredible acts of valor and bravery. It excites something in us that runs to the core of our being. An ordinary guy used to do something extraordinary. We love it because it gives us hope our lives too can be infused with significance, purpose and meaning.
As Christians, that hope becomes a reality because it is anchored in a promise. The Lord Jesus Christ in Acts 1:8, as he’s ascending into heaven, looks at his disciples and says “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria and the uttermost places of the earth.”
That’s exactly what you see happen in the book of Acts. We’ve been studying this book as a church. Throughout the journey we’ve seen the Gospel move forward in power in Jerusalem and Judea in Acts 1-7. Thousands of people came to know Jesus as Lord.
But, when you get to Acts 8, we see the Gospel advance outside of Jerusalem and Judea and make it’s way into Samaria. Who did God choose to use? An everyday, ordinary, average-kind-of-guy named Phil. 50% of the Great Commission in Acts 1:8 is achieved through this guy alone.
First he takes the Gospel to the Samaritans (Acts 8:1-25). Then he takes it to a Gentile African Eunuch (Acts 8:26-40) God’s plan has been, is and always will be to use everyday ordinary people to advance his purposes in the world. Which means “You Can Too.” You can have an enteral impact. God wants to accomplish the extraordinary through ordinary people like you and me.
We’ve been looking at Philip’s experience these past two weeks on Sunday mornings. If you’ve not been around you can catch up online. I hope you’ll be able to make it this Sunday as we look at the conversion of one of Christianity’s greatest enemies: Saul of Tarsus.
I hope you have a great rest of your week. If there’s any way I can pray for you please let me know. There’s a “prayer request” link on our new Broadview.Life central hub.