Tag Archives: survival

Greater Love Hath No Man Than This


Greater Love Hath No Man Than This

By Marcus Brotherton on Mar 25, 2016 10:16 am

wwii

Editor’s note: This article first appeared at www.marcusbrotherton.com

As a prisoner of the Imperial Japanese Army in the jungles of Thailand during WWII, Ernest Gordon, a commander in a Scottish infantry battalion, saw firsthand the depths of depravity that can happen when man sinks to his lowest.

At age 24, Gordon was captured while escaping from Sumatra after the fall of Singapore. With other prisoners he was marched into the jungle to build the notorious bridge on the River Kwai.

Starvation, beatings, disease, and dawn-to-dusk slave labor were hallmarks of the death camp. The Scottish and British soldiers, normally bastions of composure, good cheer, and self-discipline, were slowly influenced by death’s destructive grip. Morale broke down, along with concern for one’s fellow man.

Over time, “nothing mattered except to survive,” wrote Gordon. “We lived by the law of the jungle, survival of the fittest. It was a case of ‘I look out for myself and to hell with everyone else.’ The weak were trampled underfoot, the sick ignored or resented, the dead forgotten. All restraints of morality [were] gone.”

Then, slowly, something remarkable began to emerge in the camp.

  • Selflessness. A few officers began to pool their meager resources. They sent food to the sick prisoners holed up in the makeshift dispensary.
  • Compassion. Gordon himself became gravely ill, and two fellow soldiers, Dusty and Dinty, volunteered to come by every day and wash his wounds.

“Several men,” Gordon wrote, “in the midst of widespread degradation and despair, kept their integrity inviolate and their faith whole.”

The supreme example of a different way of living came to a climax one horrific evening after a long day of hard labor.

That night, when the tools were counted, a Japanese guard announced that one shovel was missing. One of the prisoners had stolen the shovel to sell on the black market, it was assumed. The crime was heinous, the guard railed. The perpetrator had maligned the Emperor himself, an act punishable by death.

The guard lined up the men in the work party and demanded that whoever took the shovel confess. No one did. The guard ranted and screamed, denouncing the men for their wickedness. His rage reached a new level.

“All die! All die!” the guard shrieked. He pointed his rifle at the crowd and set his finger on the trigger. The prisoners knew he was serious.

Calmly, quietly, from the back of the work party, one solitary man stepped forward.

“I did it,” the man said.

The guard unleashed his fury on the man. In front of the rest of the prisoners, a contingent of armed guards standing by, he beat the man bloody with the butt of his rifle, crushing the man’s skull.

When the tools were counted again, it was found that all the shovels were there.

The guard had miscounted.

One man died in the dust and dirt of the death camp by the River Kwai.

One man died so that others might live.

“It was dawning on us all,” Gordon wrote, “that the law of the jungle is not the law for man:”

“We were seeing for ourselves the sharp contrast between the forces that made for life, and those that made for death.

Selfishness, hatred, envy, jealousy, greed, self-indulgence, laziness, and pride were all anti-life.

Love, heroism, self-sacrifice, sympathy, mercy, integrity, and creative faith, on the other hand, were the essence of life, turning mere existence into living in its truest sense.

These were the gifts of God to men.”

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25 – January 25 – THIS DAY IN BAPTIST HISTORY PAST


 

 

Bunyan, John

A time for survival for Baptists

1661 – BAPTISTS SUFFERED GREAT PERSECUTION IN ENGLAND IN THE MID 17TH CENTURY – On January 25, 1661 a petition entitled “The humble petition and presentation of the 1sufferings of several peaceable subjects, called by the name of Anabaptists, inhabitants in the county of Kent, and now prisoners in the jail at Maidstone, for the testimony of a good conscience” was presented. 1660 to 1688 was a time for survival for Baptists rather than expansion. John Bunyan began his 12 year term in Bedford jail. On Oct. 19, 1661, John James, a Sabbatarian Baptist, was dragged from his pulpit in Bulsrake Alley, Whitechaple in London, and committed to the Newgate jail. On Nov. 26, he was taken to Tyburn to be hanged. King Charles II was unmoved. The Baptists had no recourse but to write publications. One was by John Sturgion, a member of the baptized people,” entitle, A Plea for Toleration of Opinions and persuasions in Matters of Religion, differing from the Church of England. Another was, Sion’s Groans for Her Distressed: or, Sober Endeavors to Prevent Innocent Blood. Seven Baptist ministers affixed their names to the document. Joseph Wright, Thomas Monck, George Hammon, William Jeffrey, Francis Stanley, William Reynolds, and Francis Smith. Joseph Wright spent no less than 20 years in prison for the sake of truth. They said that they were willing to be loyal subjects to the king in civil matters but that they must obey God in religion.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon; adapted from:  Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson/   pg. 33.

The post 25 – January 25 – THIS DAY IN BAPTIST HISTORY PAST appeared first on The Trumpet Online.

 

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