For some time now I have been writing regularly to the servicemen from my church. A few months ago we began writing to all the servicemen whose parents or near relatives are members of our churches. The response has been very encouraging, and I hear from nearly all these boys, even from those who are not members. The young men all seem to greatly appreciate any interest taken in them, and they enjoy receiving the letters. One of them wrote, "Keep those letters coming. We really eat them up."
Since I have been in New Haven I have met a number of Adventist soldiers who are studying here at Yale, and I often inquire of them whether they have heard from their church or pastor, and, with only one exception, none of them reported any contact with their church as a whole or with their pastor. Our colleges keep in touch with many, but some of our boys have never gone to one of our colleges, and their only connection with the denomination is the home church. I firmly believe that a, friendly letter now will mean a closer fellowship when the men return home. Many of those to whom' I write I have never met, as they were gone before I came here; they respond nevertheless. An excerpt from one of the many good letters I have received might be of interest. A Seabee in Hawaii writes:
"I know the Seventh-day Adventist Church is the right one and the only one, but I'm afraid my character is not strong enough to live up to what they teach. However, my belief in God is strong, and I've seen Him prove Himself to me several times when I've prayed to Him for help. .I don't live up to what I believe, but I pray every day, and He has helped me all the way. I hope to receive your letter each month. Thank you again for your thoughtfulness."
This boy is not a member, although his mother is. Before he left he was very reserved and seemed to take little interest in the church. Needless to say, a letter like the one above is a big encouragement to his mother.
The church here has appointed an editor who sees to it that our, church newsletter gets out each month; others may be called upon to write the letter, in order to pass around the responsibility to a wider group in the church. We tried to get somebody to write a serviceman each month, but as that didn't work, we decided to make up a two-page letter, which is copied the necessary number of times by some typists in the church. In it we include items about the church people, the social activities, and the news that we have received from the boys themselves, as they like to hear about one another. What is most important, we let them know that we are thinking about them and praying for them.
The men have sent us some excellent Sabbath school reports of churches they have attended in foreign lands, and material suitable for mission readings. We are also sending our denominational books and papers, and the Link magazine to any who want them. Every one of our service-men is remembered by the church on his birthday and at Christmastime.
Every minister has his hands full now, but here is a wonderful opportunity that we should not miss while we are trying to draw people to the kingdom of God. We must help, encourage, and hold on to our own members in the service. And we can use this time of crisis as a means of drawing others in the service closer to God.