"Missionaries in Khaki" Evangelistic Centers in Giant Cities

"Missionaries in Khaki" Evangelistic Centers in Giant Cities

I am writing this from the combat zone in Korea, north of the 38th Parallel, One does not need to be told that this is a danger area; everywhere are grim reminders of the conflict. What busy days these have been, every hour packed with interest and surprise!

Threading one's way over the rough roads near the battle front leaves one with a sense of appreciation for these efficient little army jeeps. How these tiny machines can plow their way, first through mud, then sand, then streams, carrying us from one appointment to another, is indeed a mechanical miracle.

A special order from General Taylor's headquarters here in Korea made it possible for me to visit the battle lines. Chap lain Powell, one of our brethren, is my guide. He knows this area well, and his spiritual ministry to the wounded and the dying is much appreciated in these parts.

I have met our Adventist soldiers in many places throughout the Far East, and every where they are giving an excellent witness for the truth. To meet with these men on Sabbath, to have a part with them in their Sabbath school and later break to them the bread of life, is a privilege. But it is an even greater privilege to meet them in their daily duties; to watch them as they move among their fellow soldiers, as they stand in line at the mess hall; as they attend the wounded who are carried off the field of battle. The respect in which they are generally held is eloquent testimony to the fact that these men are recognized as true missionaries. Yes, "missionaries in khaki" is what I call them, and in some places their witness is public as well as personal.

For instance, Sergeant Bentley, with a group of associate GI's, is holding meetings for the Korean university students in the southern city of Pusan. A real interest has been awakened among those young men and women, and they expressed to me their appreciation for the message brought them by their soldier friends. But greater yet our POW's are witnessing strongly for their faith. Sgt. Robert A. Lee, a prisoner for two years and just released, was asked, "Were you able to keep Sabbath?" "Keep Sabbath!" he said, "Why, I conducted meetings."

To be asked to conduct divine service in the midst of artillery fire is a unique experience. Feeling the very earth tremble beneath one's feet as these great guns are fired makes one conscious that this is a danger zone and death is always close at hand. To preach a living Saviour to dying men is a challenge, but the response of these men of many different faiths is heartening. To close the service they sang in my honor "God Be With You Till We Meet Again." The words "when perils thick surround you" were no figure of speech, and I felt that the hymn was more appropriate there than anywhere else I could imagine.

"Lights out! Helmets on!" reads the notice we just passed on the road. It is cold up in these parts, and the rain is coming down in torrents. We can feel sorry for the boys in the bunkers tonight. How thankful we are that we have a jeep rather than an automobile! And such roads! They have to be seen to be appreciated! We have just made a tour of inspection through the hospital where Chaplain Hoiden, another Adventist minister, is stationed. One's heart goes out to these wounded men. We just chatted with a young lieutenant who lost a leg when his jeep came too close to a mine that exploded. The future could well look dark to him, but he says with a broad smile, "It might have got me altogether. I am glad it left so much of me." On the opposite bed is a prisoner of war, a Chinese soldier with a bad wound in his head and another in his leg. To watch these experienced surgeons working with but meager equipment and under unfavorable conditions awakens one's admiration. Last night we were fascinated as we saw the radar-guided planes coming up from southern bases many hundreds of miles away. It made one realize that war these days is not merely a matter of physical strength and courage, but embraces the whole field of mathematics and science.How accurately these great instruments of war are guided to their objectives! The man in the control room is speaking to the pilot. "Get ready," he says, then calls, "Five, four, three, two, one, zero!" This is the signal for releasing the missiles of destruction. Looking out, we see them fall, and the next instant great reflections rise into the sky. How puny one feels in the face of such power!

Longing for Bible Study at the Front

We have just stepped into the mess room for a few minutes to warm ourselves, because it is cold outside. While we are chatting with a few of the men there, one of those radar specialists steps up to us and says, "Chaplain, do you know any way we could get some real instruction in the Bible? Out here we feel we should know our Bibles better, but we can't get anybody to teach us. I know we're not in your territory, but do you know any way we could get help?"

Chaplain Powell is ready. He briefly out lines the Voice of Prophecy Bible lesson program as he takes from his pocket a handful of enrollment cards. A date is set for next week, and although our chaplain has two nights already occupied in giving that very kind of instruction to two different groups, he makes another night available for this particular group of twenty or twenty-five. This is missionary work of the highest order, and it is being done by our loyal Adventist missionaries in khaki. I met with about eighty Adventist soldiers on the Sabbath and later we all went to lunch at Nurse Robson's home on the campus of Seoul Sanitarium. To find seating for such a crowd is quite a task. After lunch I noticed that the chaplain was absent, and later I found him praying with one of the boys who had been growing careless in his spiritual life. Were I that boy's father I surely would thank God for a man like that chaplain, who was willing to spend most of Sabbath afternoon helping him to settle the most important question in his life. Yes, these are true missionaries in khaki, and their witness is strong for God and His truth.

"What kind of man is your chaplain?" I asked Dr. Cleary, medical superintendent of a particular unit very close to the front line. We happened to be waiting for lunch in the officers' mess just a tent, with no embellishments. His reply impressed me as with sincerity he said, "Chaplain Powell is a fine man, a man of God. We need men of his kind in places like this. He has the happy faculty of always saying the right thing at the right time. But yesterday I got bad news they have called him to another area. So he will go from us in a couple of weeks. But he leaves behind the memory of a man who has served us well, and he has served his God."

As we were finishing our talk the chaplain came in. He sat down and with the others ordered his lunch. There was one particular item on the menu, curry and rice, that he passed by. The chef, discovering that the chaplain had not ordered that, sent a special note to him. It read: "Chaplain, the curry is quite O.K. for you today." He smiled as he read it and passed it over to me.

"What does he mean by that?" I asked.

"Oh," he said, "he wants to assure me that it is free from the things I won't eat." The other officers and doctors heard our conversation. As I remarked about it, their reply was significant. "Yes, the chaplain has some very strong convictions," one said, "but we honor him for having them." I just thanked God that away out there in the midst of tragedy, facing all kinds of problems, where every moment is charged with tremendous possibilities, our men, not only chaplains but also loyal GI's, are doing their best, even in such details as diet, to witness a good confession. Let us pray that God will keep these brave men unspotted from the world as they continue to serve their country and their God. 

Evangelistic Centers in Giant Cities

This is a day of advance. Things for which some of us have been praying long years have been happening before our eyes. A recommendation has just been adopted by the spring meeting of the General Conference Committee that looks for ward to the setting up of real evangelistic centers in the giant cities of London, New York, and Chicago. The recommendation, entitled "Help for the Great Cities," reads in part as follows:

"Whereas, Through the years the Lord has spoken to the church through His servant regarding the special needs of some of earth's great cities, such as London, New York, Chicago, and others, and has sent messages containing such earnest appeals as the following:


" 'What shall we do for London? London has received too little attention. . . . The truth, the present truth, the truth for this time, is what is needed in London. We should enter the great cities with the message of God's truth; but without means or workers, we have a most discouraging outlook for work of this kind. But if the work is not entered upon when circumstances look forbidding, it will never be accomplished.' Letter 15, 1887. "

'The London mission is in distressing need of help. There is a most solemn and important work to be done in that vast city. We have able workmen there, and God designs that they shall have advantages to do some of the same work which Christ did when He was ministering in this world.' Letter 4, 1899. "

'You should not merely absorb. You should sustain the work in every part of the world. There is the work in London. The workers are struggling with nothing to do with.' General Conference Bulletin, April 5, 1901. "

'The work in England might now be much farther advanced than it is if our brethren, at the be ginning of the work there, had not tried to work in so cheap a way. If they had hired good halls, and carried forward the work as though we had great truths, which would surely be victorious, they would have had greater success. God would have the work started in such a way that the first impressions given shall be, as far as they go, the very best that can be made.' Gospel Workers, p. 462.

New York

" 'Look at New York! What representation for the truth is there in that city? How much help has been sent there?' Life Sketches, p. 385.

'Let not the fields lying in the shadow of our doors, such as New York City, be passed over lightly and neglected. This field is just as important as any foreign field.' Manuscript 154, 1902. "

'You should feel a decided responsibility for the working of New York City. The men in the business houses of New York . . . , as verily as the heathen in foreign lands, must be reached with the message.' Evangelism, p. 388.

"'I point you to the city of New York. One hundred workers might be laboring there where now there is but one. How many of you have taken a practical interest in the work in this city? We have scarcely touched this field with the tips of our fingers. A few faithful workers have been trying to do something in this great, wicked city. But their work has been difficult, because they have had so few facilities.'

General Conference Bulletin, April 7, 1903. " 'God wants the work to go forward in New York. There ought to be thousands of Sabbath keepers in that place, and there would be if the work were carried on as it should be."

Life Sketches, p. 385. " 'Here [in Greater New York] let a center for God's work be made, and let all that is done be a symbol of the work the Lord desires to see done in the world.' Testimonies, vol. 7, p. 37. " 'The Lord showed me that His work should be established in New York. He showed me what could be done there if everyone would come up to His help. The power of God is to carry the truth in this city.' General Conference Bulletin, April 10, 1901. "

'New York is ready to be worked. In that great city the message of truth will be given with the power of God. The Lord calls for workmen. He calls upon those who have gained an experience in the cause to take up and carry forward in His fear the work to be done in New York. . . . He calls also for means to be used in this work.' Testimonies, vol. 7, p. 55.


" 'The Lord's cause is certainly worthy of a better opening than it has yet in Chicago. ... I thought, brethren and sisters, that the truth of God was not receiving the honor which its sacred character demands.' " Review and Herald, Feb. 10, 1885; and,

"Whereas, Our membership in the South England, Greater New York, and Illinois conferences is so small that they face an impossible task in trying to evangelize the millions living within the borders of their conferences, and in providing adequate church housing for these converts, without special help; and,

"Whereas, The acting China Division committee has requested that funds accumulating in the China account and which cannot presently be utilized in China, be used to help establish representative church centers in each of these three cities such as would serve as year-round church and evangelistic centers; and,

"Whereas, The use of these funds for such a purpose would not in any way draw upon funds be longing to any other part of the world;

"We recommend, 1. That approval be given to the plan proposed by the China Division committee, and that it be carried out during a period of three years, beginning with the accumulations in the China Di vision funds for 1952, 1953, and 1954, and that they be allocated for this purpose in London, New York, and Chicago, it being understood that we shall begin with London."

We know that our workers around the world will rejoice at this forward-looking move on the part of our leaders. And as this goes to press we are heartened by the news that a building suitable for just such a center in London is already being investigated with a view to its purchase. More over, Elder G. E. Vandeman is remaining for another period in order to help in the establishment of this worthy enterprise. It is anticipated that the large and growing interest will be channeled into this prospective new center and that for the first time in nearly seventy years we shall have a center in the heart of this great metropolis from which the light of truth will stream forth around the world.

Truly this is a day of advance. May God give us wisdom and courage to keep step with His opening providences.

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June 1953

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