Lean and lanky, Jerry was an evangelist from the soles of his socks upward. Where Jerry went his Bible went with him. No matter where he was, or who he was with, Jerry shared his faith, read the Scriptures and prayed for his companions. This did not always make him popular, but his interest was not popularity; he cared only to introduce his fellowman, or woman, to his Saviour.
In civilian life Jerry served behind the counter in a large department store. He slipped a tract into every shopping bag or packet; he brought his not inconsiderable charm to bear as he “God blessed” every departing customer. Management deplored and threatened his insistent evangelism; customers enjoyed his old fashioned courtesy, his readiness to serve.
Life for Jerry was no different to the other young men of his time: for short periods he was called to serve in the armed forces in defence of his country. In the throes of civil war husbands, brothers and sons were called into the armed forces for brief periods of time to protect their families, their homes, their way of life. Jerry in uniform was identical with Jerry behind the shop counter. Mockery, persecution and even punishment failed to curb his enthusiasm or stifle his determination to present the Gospel to every creature, including his fellow soldiers and the officers of the regiment.
Until finally, finally, he made it to the sharp end.
Now he was a member of a platoon of infantrymen patrolling an area where guerrilla fighters were suspected to be gathering. This was proved true when they attacked the infantrymen. A fire fight developed. The area was wooded and rocky. In the course of the fighting the men were widely separated. At length the infantrymen gained the upper hand, making prisoners and disarming them before herding them into a group. No one had been killed but there were injured men on both sides who needed attention. It was some time before they missed Jerry. The officer swore, sending two men to search the area, afraid that Jerry might be the one fatality of the afternoon.
Jerry shared a rock with an enemy fighter. Their rifles lay disregarded on the ground. Jerry had his Bible open and was explaining the way of salvation to the man at his side. This weapon was the one that he wielded more efficiently than any other: “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)
On the flatbed of the truck returning them to barracks Jerry continued to instruct his newly won convert in Christian living. When they were parted he handed him his cherished Bible with a warm “God bless you!”
Pastor Liam was in his study struggling with a politically correct presentation of the gospel when he was called to attend at the local army barracks. He found an unrepentant Jerry trying to explain to a disgruntled group of officers why winning a soul was manifestly more important than winning a war. Liam smiled at the interrupter of his sermons while disagreeing that the young man was mentally unsound. Jerry was discharged with the notation that he was psychologically unfit to bear arms. The army hierarchy claimed that he was a danger to his fellow soldiers.
Pastor Liam returned to his study where he consigned the politically correct gospel to the waste basket. He was reminded once again that the soldiers of the Lord spent every day at the sharp end in the war for souls, and that it was his task to prepare his troops for the ongoing battle against the wiles of the wicked one. While threading a clean sheet into the typewriter, he thanked the Lord for Jerry who, though he walked in the flesh did not war after the flesh. His sermon would be based on 2 Corinthians chapter 10:
“For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds.”
He prayed again God for Jerry the evangelist, and for the man newly come to faith in Christ. An enemy won is a friend for this life and the next. Jerry was a true soldier of the Cross.
Names have been changed. Jerry is real, the incident true.
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