Matthew 24:6 (NLT)
"And you will hear of wars and threats of wars, but don't panic. Yes, these things must take place, but the end won't follow immediately."
I was in high school at the height of Vietnam War. I watched the news reports of massive bombings and airstrikes that left deep scars on the face of the earth in the countries of SE Asia. When I turned 18, I was required by law to register for the draft so my name could be placed with tens of thousands of others to face the possibility of being chosen to fight in Vietnam. It was my generation's war. I felt the responsibility to do something!
Almost exactly one year before my 18th birthday, my life was totally changed when I attended a youth revival near my home. I had been a carefree teenager involved with sports, cars and girls. Vietnam was a world away and was none of my immediate concern.
But something happened at that youth revival. I confessed my need for forgiveness and asked Jesus Christ to become the Savior and Lord of my life. I began to read the Bible (from my own copy that I bought for $2 at the revival). My life and priorities began to change. The peace of Jesus had ended my inner war of guilt and shame. I began to think deeply about how I could help others have true peace, like I now had.
Now, at 18, I was faced with the reality of going to fight and kill people half a world away. I didn't want to kill anyone. But I was willing to serve my country. I asked to see a questionaire that could determine if I was a "conscientious objector" to the war and could avoid combat. After looking at the form, I knew that I didn't really fit the definition, so I handed the form back to the draft board personnel and said, "Those people in Vietnam need to hear about Jesus. I would rather bear Bibles than bombs!" Then I signed the form making myself available to be called into military service.
As the war raged on, I had a growing concern for the people of SE Asia. I was never drafted to go as a soldier to Vietnam. But I felt a call from God to preach the Gospel and became a pastor in my home area, then I felt His voice calling me to go to SE Asia and serve as a missionary with my young wife and children. In 1979 we began the journey to do our part to help fullfill the words of Jesus in Matthew 24:14 And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come.
After decades of kingdom service, when I hear rumors of war, I would still rather bear Bibles than bombs. We have seen tens of thousands of Scriptures delivered or printed in the countries of SE Asia. I have seen the same transformation that happened in my own life happen in the lives of Vietnamese, Cambodians, Laotians, Burmese and Thai because of the transforming power of Jesus Christ and His word. Peace, true peace is coming through the Gospel to SE Asia.
Yet the spiritual "war" is not over for the 200,000 villages of SE Asia that have no Bible, no believer, no Prince of Peace. Our task is not finished! Mark 16:15 (NLT) And then he told them, "Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone.
This month Reach A Village will deliver 5,000 Study Bibles to Cambodia for pastors and Christian workers. The first Bible of its kind in their language! (During the Vietnam War, American planes dropped more than 2.75 million tons of bombs on Cambodia.)
What about this generation's war? How can this generation take up the challenge to see that bibles, bearing the Good News, make it into the villages that have never heard? ERC