Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Part 2 - The Sower Casts The Seed

I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase..” – 1 Corinthians 3:6-7

Chaplain Austin moved from one fox hole to another fox hole. Crouching as he moved to keep a low profile.  He spoke words of encouragement to the battle weary men. As he looked into the weary eyes of these young Marines, he thought, “they are too young to have seen so much death.”  His mind took him back to a small island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean called Iwo Jima,  remembering that he had seen that same look in the eyes of other young Marines as they had fought their way across that island.  This was not Hank’s first rodeo! Then, as now, Hank knew most of the men would be having thoughts about God and wondering about heaven (something called foxhole religion when death is all around you) and perhaps wishing for home.  As he approached the next foxhole on the line, I can imagine that the words of the Apostle Paul were on his mind.  Like Paul, he was planting seeds and watering where the seed had already been sown in the hearts of some of these young men.  He knew that for some, this might be the last dawn they would ever see and the last chance they would ever have.

The young Marine had just finished cleaning and re-assembling his M-1 rifle.  I imagine the conversation went something like this. Hank asked, “What’s your name son?”  “PFC Pierson, Chaplain.”  “Where you from?” “Peoria, IL, Chaplain.  Ever been there?”  Hank was from Philadelphia, PA, although the Navy had taken him all over the world, but Peoria was a place where he had never been and didn’t think it was likely he would ever go there.  Hank and PFC Pierson chatted for a few more minutes about the chow, about news from home, and about the past few days they had spent on that mountain.  Looking intently into the young Marine’s eyes, Hank asked him if he had thought much about heaven and if he were to die on this mountain, did he think he would be going there.  PFC Pierson stared at the bottom of his fox hole for what seemed like minutes, then he looked up at the Chaplain and said, “I hope so.”  Hank reached into his ruck sack and pulled out a small Bible, opened it up to the Gospel of John, 1st Chapter.  Showing the words to the PFC, he read verse 12 (But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God.)  He said, “There is a way you can know for sure, son. That’s by placing your faith in Jesus Christ.”

Taking his pen, Hank wrote an inscription in the front of the Bible and handed it to him.  Hank said, “Keep this Bible with you.  I encourage you to read it.  I will be praying for you.”  And with that, Hank moved on to the next fox hole. As he walked away, he prayed, “Lord your word does not return to you void, let it do its work in that Marine.”  Dad watched the Chaplain move off, he read the inscription in the Bible and put it in the left pocket of his blouse (a Marine’s shirt).  Perhaps he thought, “Maybe this will bring me some luck.”  What Dad didn’t know was that his encounter with Hank Austin would bring him more than luck. More than all his other experiences in Korea combined it would shape his life, the lives of his children and of those in future generations for eternity.

Dad carried the Bible in his left breast pocket, right under the Marine Corps Globe and Anchor, for the rest of the time he was in Korea.  Then the day finally came – the fighting was done and dad was going home. He carefully packed his gear in his sea bag, placing the Bible under the top flap.  As he placed the Bible in his sea bag, his mind went back to that day at the Hwach’on Reservoir and Chaplain Hank Austin.  He read the inscription in the front flap, secured the clasp on his sea bag and left Korea. Arriving in California, he was released from active duty and returned to Peoria to get on with his life. Not too long after he met my mom.

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name” – John 1:12

To be continued – tomorrow – Part 3: The Seed Watered

Think about it – Pray about it – Believe it – Walk in it. Let your light shine and give God the glory.

By Faith Alone By His Grace Alone And For His Glory Alone

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