Camp Pastors as Counselors

As workers we face the serious problems presented by the call of so many hundreds of our boys into Army service.

By JAMES B. Ross, Camp Pastor, Southwestern Union Conference

As workers we face the serious problems presented by the call of so many hundreds of our boys into Army service. Without ques­tion, the induction order means a great crisis in the life of every youth. The Army will do one of two things to every Adventist boy. Either it will strengthen him to stand for the principles he has accepted nominally and to be true at any cost, or it will influence him to give in here and there until very soon he will drop all pretext of being an Adventist.

It is given to us as workers to help our boys in the making of these decisions. A good groundwork can be laid in the home churches, but the great reality of the problem does not make itself felt until the boys are actually in the service. It is almost impossible to cause them to visualize the true conditions that they will meet.

For years, in perhaps a majority of cases, these young men have lived in Adventist homes or gone to Adventist schools, where Sabbath observance was made easy for them. Even after they left school and occasionally found it difficult to obtain work with the Sabbath off they were at least free to make their own decision whether they would keep the Sabbath holy or forget its sacredness.

In the Army they are face to face with a new situation. Conflict is often engendered over the Sabbath question, and they are ordered to work. There is no alternative except at the risk of court martial and severe penalties. This causes the soldier to evaluate his position as never before. Will he hold out for that which his heart tells him is right, and suffer what conies ? He may have to decide some other questions first. The Sabbath question may not be the only thing at stake. There are often some things he has been doing that he knows are downright sinful, and he has been convicted in his heart that he should not do them. Now is it worthwhile for him to suffer punishment in order to keep one of God's commandments, if he is not willing to go all the way, and keep all of His requirements ? This is the decision that all must make, and it is here that our workers can help. True Christian sympathy and tactful counsel can be of inestimable worth in such circumstances.

In an interview with an Army general, while we were seeking to secure Sabbath privileges for our boys in his camp, he asked me, "Now, Elder, what about the weak ones ? Every church has some weak ones." My answer was that it took high moral courage to withstand the ridicule of officers and fellow soldiers to obtain Sabbath privileges which their con­science dictated they must have; and that I felt sure that any who would stand such a test would be found worthy of any special con­sideration he might give them. He had just .tested seventeen of our boys, and not a one had been found wanting. The Sabbath order was granted.

The greatest incentive for our boys to be faithful at any cost comes from beyond their own personal needs. Service to others must be the motive. "For their sakes I sanctify My­self." In reality they are not fighting for themselves alone. A high-ranking officer, whose name cannot be given, of course, made this interesting observation : "Tell your boys that they are standing not only for themselves, but for every Seventh-day Adventist in the Army."

Our boys in the service must become workers and seek other souls if they are to stand true themselves. I have already seen the fruitage of some whose lives have been witnessing pow­erfully for their Master, who were awake to every opportunity to sow some seed by way of Bible studies and literature. God turned the prophecy of Jacob concerning Levi, from that which was seemingly a curse, to a blessing. He sent the members of this tribe as priests throughout all the tribes.

The induction of our boys into service can be, and I truly believe that in God's providence it will be, turned to His glory. Our young men have been brought "to the kingdom for such a time as this." As workers let us help them to catch this glorious vision. When they have this vision, they assure their own success­ful Christian experience, and fit into God's plan for the finishing of the work.

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By JAMES B. Ross, Camp Pastor, Southwestern Union Conference

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