January 2018 Viewpoint
The article A Goodly Heritage refers to the grandfather of my wife, Debbie. As a teenager, Chester Brown prayed through to salvation. Not long after he was saved, Grandpa Brown began to serve in the U.S. military. After boot camp, he was deployed to Europe where he fought during World War I.
In an interview with his pastor in 1976, he described how he and a group of other soldiers were taken from their training camp to New York, “in the light of the Statue of Liberty,” where they were loaded onto a flotilla of fourteen ships. Departing early one morning to cross the Atlantic Ocean, planes and huge zeppelins went with them a little ways before returning to port. Their flotilla continued to travel together until they were close to Europe, where the vessels separated and sailed to different destinations. The men on Grandpa Brown’s ship disembarked in Scotland for further training before traveling down through England and across the English Channel to Le Havre, France. Soon, he was at the front of the battle.
He related that by the time they got to the Front, it was late in the year. “We began to feel the cold pretty strong. We had to dig in, and I just about like to froze. We would dig a hole wide enough for two. We had oversize caps inside our helmets, and to sleep, we would pull them down over our heads and put our heads right up in the helmet, then butt the helmet up against the bank. That would act as a pillow. I never had my shoes off for two weeks and my socks just about growed to my feet.”
He described the night before they were to move to the front lines in the Argonne Forest, saying, “The boys were waiting for daylight to come. There was cursing and carrying on, but I felt like I wanted to pray. I would look away to the star-lit sky; it seemed so peaceful up there. Down below was such turmoil.” He told the Lord that if it was His will, he knew God could see him through safely. Right there the Lord dropped a promise into his heart, “A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee” (Psalm 91:7). He related, “I felt the mighty arm of God bared in my behalf.”
After fighting in France, their unit relocated to Ypres, a town in the province of West Flanders in Belgium. Ypres occupied a strategic position because it stood in the path of Germany's planned sweep across the rest of Belgium and into France from the north. The First Battle of Ypres had already occurred, and Grandpa Brown recalled, “That was a shot up place. All the limbs were shot off the trees and what were left of the buildings were just wrecks. We hiked all day to get out of no man’s land, one shell hole after another.”
During that time, he faced heavy combat with many casualties occurring all around him. Once a machine gunner tried to get him. He was lying in a shallow depression in the ground, and the machine gun bullets were chewing up the dirt around him. However, God was true to His promise. Though comrades fell around him, Grandpa Brown returned safely after the war ended.
While we may never serve in the military or be called to participate in physical warfare, each of us is engaged in a very real spiritual battle. From the time of Lucifer’s rebellion until now, evil has been in combat against good. After Adam and Eve succumbed to temptation in the Garden, their fallen nature was transmitted to the entire human race. Thankfully, Jesus paid the price for our redemption by shedding His innocent blood on Calvary, and those who confess and forsake their sins can be saved. However, the enemy of our soul does not surrender when we become Christians! He continues to fight to destroy us spiritually, employing tactics designed to cause us to surrender to him. By the grace of God, though, we can overcome.
Grandpa Brown not only was part of the victorious army of World War I, but he also withstood our spiritual enemy. He lived to become a family patriarch—four generations later, many of his descendants are now saved and serving the Lord. I am so glad Grandpa Brown refused to abandon his troop or his faith! He served God in the Apostolic Faith until he passed away in January of 1980, and was an example of commitment and perseverance. I married his granddaughter a short time before he died, and we now have our own children and grandchildren holding fast to the same Gospel he held dear.
You will read other accounts of victory in this magazine, as well as instruction in how to withstand the attempts of our spiritual enemy. We hope it all will encourage you to persevere. Both those around us and the generations following depend upon us to be faithful. Our determination to continue in this “good fight of faith” will be rewarded, both in this life and the life to come.