Eric Liddell is one of my heroes. His amazing Olympic triumph in the 400-meter event in the 1924 Olympics was dramatized in the Academy Award winning movie, "Chariots of Fire". The movie also portrayed his strong commitment to Jesus Christ and his uncompromising stand against running on Sunday, which he believed to be a violation of keeping that day holy. He was a man of conviction, of incredible inner strength, and of really muscular faith. Well, years later, he would die for his Lord as a missionary to China. I've just finished his biography which, of course, tells much more about his whole life than the movie did.

Friday, March 8, 2002

Nathan Chapman was the first American soldier killed by hostile fire in Afghanistan. He was one of America's elite Green Berets, on a strategic mission in dangerous territory when he died. I had a chance to watch some of the memorial service in his honor. The chapel was crowded with grim-faced Special Forces soldiers and many who loved this man. He had been there, serving his country, in some of the most difficult assignments of the last decade, including Panama and Haiti and Afghanistan. During the service, he was greatly praised by those who knew him, including references to the fact that he was a follower of Jesus Christ. Several of them cited Nathan Chapman's personal motto - one he lived by volunteering to go where he felt he could make the greatest difference. His motto was only five words but still very challenging: "Stand up and do something!"

Tuesday, February 12, 2002

There are so many stories that put a face on the World Trade Center tragedy of September 11, 2001. I saw a particularly moving first-person story of one woman who miraculously survived the collapse of the North Tower that awful day. She tried to make her way down the long stairwell from her office on the 64th floor, and she made it to the 13th floor. That's when the entire tower began to crumble. She fell to the ground as the building continued to collapse around her. She dropped thirteen floors and ended up with her head pinned between two concrete pillars, her legs trapped in a staircase. She said, "I saw that no one came, and I wasn't hearing any noises around me. So I thought, 'I'm going to die here. I'm going to see myself slowly die here.'"

The young mother prayed, slept, prayed some more - at one point, asking God for a miracle. That's when she heard noises. She yelled out, and someone answered back. She had been trapped under tons of debris for 27 hours. Here's how she described what happened next: "I took a piece of concrete and I knocked the stair above me. And then they heard the knocking, and then they started to come closer. And then I put my hands through a little crack in the ceiling, and I felt the person hold my hand. The fireman found my hand and he said, 'I've got you.' And I said, 'Thank God.'" She was the last person pulled alive from the wreckage.

Wednesday, February 6, 2002

It's probably a common term in the military, but I had never heard it until I saw an interview with some American soldiers working to establish an air base at Kandahar in Afghanistan. They were busy finding and clearing land mines, repairing and expanding the runway - and, at the same time, carefully defending their perimeter. The soldiers pointed out that there were still Taliban and Al-Qaeda fighters hiding out - and waiting for an opportunity to do some serious damage. That's when one soldier referred to what he called "high value targets". He said the enemy still had the capability to take out some "high value target" like an incoming aircraft, for example.

Friday, February 1, 2002

We had seen some very painful scenes at Ground Zero in the rubble of the World Trade Center -- firemen, policemen, emergency personnel, combing through the wreckage for their fallen brothers and sisters. Later, pausing for a moment of silent tribute as the remains of one of them was carried out. But at a time when there was talk of reducing the number of workers at the site, we saw a scene that was painful in a different way. Tempers flared in the raw emotions of that moment, and some of those firefighters and police who had been fighting together to save or find people in the rescue and recovery effort were suddenly fighting with one another at Ground Zero.

Friday, November 23, 2001

It was Bible story time for our three-year-old grandson. When Daddy asked about David, our little Bible scholar said, "David obey God." But when Daddy asked about Jonah, our grandson said, "Jonah not obey. Go in whale." Then, for the grand prize, "What happens if you don't obey?" The little guy paused for a moment and then he answered, "Go in whale."

Part of the incredible impact of the attacks on the World Trade Center was that everyday people suddenly became national heroes. Fire trucks would roll through New York City with weary firefighters on board - and New Yorkers would erupt in spontaneous cheers. Ground Zero, the devastated area at and around the site of the collapsed towers, became known as Ground Hero. Professional athletes, who are our nation's heroes in less turbulent times, kept saying, "We're not the heroes - they're the heroes." Americans will not soon forget those firefighters, the police, the medical personnel, and the countless volunteers who gave everything they had to try to rescue those who were caught in those collapsing towers. The word "hero" may never be the same.

Wednesday, October 10, 2001

You've probably seen the G. I. Joe action dolls. I never bought one of those for my boys - but I did buy a special version of G. I. Joe lately - as an object lesson for our "On Eagles' Wings" team of young Native Americans. This particular, limited edition doll portrays a group of unsung heroes from World War II called the Navajo Code Talkers. They were soldiers who worked in wartime communications in some of the fiercest battles of the Pacific campaign. They used their Navajo language to communicate in a code that baffled the Japanese. Some surviving Code Talkers were recently honored by the President in Washington. The Code Talker G. I. Joe actually says a few Navajo phrases when you pull his string. I wanted to use that doll as an example of how some young Native Americans helped determine the outcome of the battle - and how God wants to use young Native Americans to do that today in the battle for their people. Now my Navajo G. I. Joe has stayed unopened in his box for nearly a year since I bought him - they're pretty rare. Because he's almost a collector's item, I didn't really want to take Joe out of his box. But you can't get him to do what he does if you leave him in the box.

Friday, October 5, 2001

Every year with our "On Eagles' Wings" team of young Native Americans is an adventure, no matter what reservation or villages we're going to. But our two summers in Alaska were especially challenging. Our usual mode of operation is to travel by bus to each reservation, and we carry under the bus everything we need for our outreach events, literature distribution, and the care of our team. Not when we went to Alaska. Some of the Native villages there are 400 miles from the nearest road! So, goodbye, bus! Goodbye, carrying everything we need with us! Hello, airplanes! Hello, boats! Hello, shipping everything ahead for each village! Hello, whole new way of doing things!

Thursday, September 13, 2001

There was just something about those great vacation adventures I would plan for our family- somehow our kids got to dreading my announcement that I had another one scheduled. Maybe it was that day on Cape Cod. Near Provincetown there are these monster sand dunes. And I had heard that if you climbed to the top of this particular mountain of sand, you would have a beautiful panoramic view of the ocean. So on a hot July day, we started trudging up that dune. And I kept encouraging the troops with the prospect of that fabulous view at the top. And when we finally reached the top, there it was - a panoramic view of another sand dune! Well, against strenuous protests, I moved the troops down that dune and up the next one, sure that our view was one dune away. And there, atop that next dune, we were rewarded with , yeah, another sand dune. And so went our afternoon, up a dune, down a dune, up a dune, down a dune. My mistake - I was sure that what I was looking for must be just over that next hill. It wasn't.

            

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