The amazing fellowship he encountered in this strange country was the only thing that kept John from losing what was left of his mind. To enter in the worship and study of God’s Word with these brothers required a fast understanding of what was spoken through an unfamiliar and complicated translation process. His deep need drove him to learn at lightening speed.
John sat as still as stone as he concentrated.
“Oh Lord,” the once handsome young man prayed, “Please keep me strong and wise. Guide me and protect me, and all these others who come before you for strength and edification.”
He soaked up the gentle solo of one of the older members who hummed a hymn in a clear but quiet baritone voice full of conviction and love. It was like swimming in warm, soothing, healing waters. Tears washed his thin and scarred face.
Someone asked him to share his testimony to encourage the others. Slowly and painfully, and with great labor, John managed to tell them what was in his heart and how Jesus Christ was his Savior and had sent the Holy Spirit to give him comfort in his darkest days. More than one rushed to respond with prayer and the metaphorical hand of friendship. There was no potluck or idle gossip or chitchat. Every skillfully coded word about the Living Triune God was savored and shared like precious gold.
The leader called for complete silence. Not one man spoke or moved, lost in his own prayer and meditation. That’s how the meeting would end. Tomorrow it might be different.
Boom! Boom! Boom!
Fire seemed to fall from the sky in every direction. The sound of screams and running feet sent each man of the small congregation to his tiny window to try to make out what terrible calamity had now befallen them.
A strong, no nonsense shout bellowed through the smoke and confusion in English, “Who’s in charge here?”
John felt himself exhale. He placed his hand over his heart and wept unashamedly. He heard others weeping, and an answer that was music to his ears.
“That would be me.” A trembling voice replied. “ I am Commander Jess J. Jameson, United States Army. Who are you?”
“Today, Sir…your best friend, Sergeant Daniel Jones, U.S. Marine Corp.”
As ranking officer, Jess tried to sound firm, but his throat was raspy from illness and lack of use. He dealt with the seriousness of the situation with his trademark flash of dry wit.
“What took ‘ya so long, Sergeant?”
As each door of the makeshift cells was torn off, liberating heroes joined prisoner of war heroes in salutes, and finally, hugs. Some of the weaker captives were carried like babies by the invading rescuers.
Once the huge helicopter lifted off and out of the jungle of hate and torment, more than one could be heard saying, ”Thank you, Lord. Thank You, Thank You, THANK YOU.”
Sergeant Dan, big, tough Marine with an accomplished mission, wrapped a government-issue blanket around one unconscious and badly beaten military comrade as he cradled him against the bumpy ride to freedom and home.
“Amen,” he sighed, “Amen and Amen.”
Although many Prisoners of War were rescued, many more died or are still unaccounted for, but certainly never forgotten.
Countless stories have surfaced that chronicle the life-sustaining camaraderie and strength of purpose in finding ways to fellowship and give praise and honor to their Lord during the horrible incarcerations. God bless them every one, and the brave men who facilitated the great escapes.
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