Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Part 1 Planting A 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

The previous two devotional posts were about (1) those who were confronted with the Gospel but rejected it and (2) the transformation that takes place in a person’s life when they yield their heart in faith to the Gospel. I am going to share a story with you over the next two or three days about the seed of the Gospel planted and taking root in a person’s life.  Some of you may know that my parents divorced when I was 2 years old. That is a story that can be saved for another time. But both parents remarried. My three sisters and I lived with my mom and our step-dad, Don Pierson.  The story I am about to share is about my step-dad. I wrote this story in 2004 when Martie and I were helping a ministry called the Military Missions Network get off the ground. I was traveling with the director, Pastor Gary Sanders, to Norfolk, Virginia to meet with a group of Navy Chaplains to talk about that ministry.  As the story progresses you will see how that is relevant.

Would it be too confusing if I just take the word “step” off of the reference to Don Pierson? He was more than a person that was pinned on to my life like you might pin a note on a bulletin board. He was a dominant influence on my life – my character – my work ethic – the way I lived my new life. He was more like a father than my biological father was. That is another story as well. So I will refer to Don as dad from here forward. 

The real start to the story begins with this Bible.  The picture is of a young Marine, Don Pierson, holding a communist sub machine gun while in Korea. My mom contacted me and asked if I could find Chaplain Austin so she could thank him.  This was after Don had passed in November 1999.  They had been married for 45 years at that point. Unfortunately Chaplain Austin had since passed away, however I was able to obtain some information about him which I will share with you on another day. That bible rested on top of Dad’s chest of drawers for as long as I could remember, but I never knew the story behind it until after his passing.

Prelude. It’s the nature of the ministry in the military that most times, Christian chaplains are able to plant seeds of faith, but not see that seed take root and grow.  Not all chaplains are Christian – they are religious men and women who represent a myriad of faiths held by  service members.  How many  chaplains there are for a particular faith is dependent upon the number of service members in that Branch of Service that represent a particular belief system. This is a story of how a Christian chaplain planted a seed in a young Marine’s life, and how after nearly 20 years that seed grew into a mighty tree. DISCLAIMER: Since the exact words and thoughts between the young Marine and the chaplain were not documented I have taken some writer's liberty. The conversations between Chaplain Austin and my dad in this story are based upon true events and encounters and are consistent with conversations I, personally, have had with chaplains while serving in the military during peacetime as well as my experiences in Vietnam and Desert Storm.  The conversations between our family members are factual and accurate.

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

Planting the Seed.  It was June 1951. As part of the X (tenth) Corps offensive, the 1st Marine Division with the 7th Republic Of Korea (ROK) Division on their left flank and the 5th ROK Division on their right, drove northward past the eastern tip of the Hwach’on Reservoir against the 5th and 2nd North Korean Corps (communists).  By 20 June 1951, the 1st Marines had taken its portion of the X Corps’ objective; a ridgeline overlooking a deep circular valley in the Korean mountains nicknamed the "Punchbowl." Truce negotiations began after the battle ended, and the UN forces settled down into a defensive line. The following is an excerpt I found that described the battle.

June 10-16, 1951. Battle for the Punchbowl (vicinity Hwach'on Reservoir). The 1st Marine Division encounters heavy North Korean resistance,  but succeeds in taking its objective. Participating in the Eighth Army drive northward past the eastern tip of the Hwachon Reservoir. By 20 June 1951, the division had taken its portion of the X Corps objective, a ridgeline overlooking a deep circular valley in the Korean mountains nicknamed the Punchbowl. Truce negotiations now began, and the UN forces settled down into a defensive line.

Three days prior, on June 17, a 22 year old Marine, PFC Donald Pierson, was resting after a fierce battle with the North Koreans. Don had joined the Marine reserve after high school.  His unit had been mobilized and deployed as were so many others during the escalation in Korea.  Looking down the line, he could see someone approaching, the figure was taking a few minutes at each fighting position before moving to the next.  At first, Don thought it was Gunny, his platoon sergeant, but as the figure drew nearer, he could see that it was the Chaplain.  Like medics, there are no chaplains wearing a Marine uniform, they are naval officers, but these Marines considered him to be one of their own.  He was always there, right in the thick of it.    Encouraging them to stand fast in the midst of the roar of the battle. It was as if he didn’t know there was a battle raging.  He had their respect.

To be continued – tomorrow – Part 2: The Sower Casts The Seed

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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