Blessed be the Lord, my rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle;
Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.
Tomorrow begins Memorial Day Weekend 2017. In honor of those who served, I will be celebrating, in part, by remembering two American soldiers and heroes of World War II: Pfc. Wayne Alderson and Pfc. Charles “Red” Preston.
Alderson and Preston were scouts for the US Army’s Company B, 7th Infantry during the Rhineland Campaign into Nazi-occupied Germany in 1945. During the four-day campaign and according to US Congressional records, Alderson “singlehandedly killed 43 enemy soldiers”. As First Scout, Pfc. Alderson was the first US soldier to cross into Germany and on 18 March 1945, he led a frontal assault on the Siegfried Line near Zweibrucken but was the only soldier from his five-man group to survive. During the offensive, he received severe wounds to his face when a German grenade exploded at his feet causing him to fall unconscious face-down into thick mud. Alderson would have drowned but was saved by his friend Pfc. Charles “Red” Preston. Preston was killed by an enemy sniper as he turned the unconscious Alderson onto his back to prevent his suffocation in the mud. Pfc. Charles “Red” Preston laid down his life for his friend.
For his exemplary service, Pfc. Wayne Alderson was awarded the Purple Heart, Bronze Star, and Silver Star. But his remarkable story only began at the end of the war. In 1980, Dr. R.C. Sproul wrote a biography titled Stronger Than Steel: The Wayne Alderson Story, in which he states, “I am writing about a common man with uncommon courage, a man whom I honestly believe to be one of the most courageous human beings I’ve ever encountered.” Below is a short devotional Dr. Sproul wrote in which he mentions some of Alderson’s post-war accomplishments surrounding the “The Miracle of Pittron”. Sometimes soldiers have a tough time making the transition to civilian life. By his faith in Christ, Pfc. Alderson became a civilian but never stopped fighting or being a hero.
Dr. Sproul writes:
I have seen extraordinary examples of laypeople who have taken their faith to the marketplace in the form of ministry.
Charles Colson went from the White House to prison. When he was released from prison, he was not released from ministry. Indeed, from his experience grew a vision to minister to prison inmates in the name of Christ, a ministry that now reaches tens of thousands of people in virtually every country.
Wayne Alderson, a layman, put his faith to work in the violent arena of labor-management relations. He has taken that ministry around this nation ministering to people in corporate boardrooms, coal mines, and labor union halls.
The list could easily include a multitude of ministries that involve the laity. Without the laity, the church would not have conquered the ancient world. The Reformers understood that for real reformation to happen, the laity had to be educated, trained, and mobilized. Martin Luther took a leave of absence from the university in order to translate the Bible into German—so that every believer could personally read the Scriptures.
John Calvin’s Institutes was originally penned as an instruction manual for the laity. Many of the works of Jonathan Edwards were originally composed for the benefit of his congregation, many of whom were known to be studying their Greek New Testaments while they were plowing their fields.
Coram deo: Living before the face of God
Reflect on some ways you can take Christ into the marketplace of your occupation or profession.
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