Sunday, August 21, 2011
No Stained Glass Windows
Early in the Vietnam War Lieutenant Ronald DeBock was assigned as one of the first chaplains to the field hospital run by Company C, 3rd Medical Battalion, known throughout I Corps as ‘Charlie Med.’ He made it his duty to meet jeep and helicopter ambulances day and night to be one of the first to offer comfort to the casualties as they arrived. He often stayed with the seriously wounded in the operating room and followed up with frequent visits to the wards, bringing reading material, praying, and just talking with the men. He helped some make commitments to Christ.
On Sundays he held services in the hospital chapel, a fly tent pitched beside a nearby rice paddy. The chaplain had good memories of his primitive but spiritual ‘church:’
It had no stained glass windows or even a single picture, but our blessed Lord was ever present, and the men knew it. They sang and worshipped as they had back home. They gradually adjusted to the sights and sounds of the area, and continued to pray or sing despite the noises of jets, helicopters or artillery fire. Attendance at worship services was generally in small groups. In the hospital area and in nearby troop sites large assemblies of personnel were neither practicable or desirable. Nevertheless, they came to worship God. The Marines seemed to take their religion as seriously as their duties.
There is a small chapel at Camp St. Christopher on Seabrook Island, South Carolina with only one noteworthy amenity. It has a large window over the altar with a view of the Edisto River and Atlantic Ocean. As the palm fronds sway and seagulls coast by on the breeze it is not difficult to go to a deeper level spiritually. God doesn’t require much to enter our thoughts. He waits patiently for us to give him our attention. We can worship him in cathedrals or in tents. It has more to do with our own sense of urgency and our own understanding of how much we need him in our lives.
To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul; in you I trust, O my God. Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. ~Psalm 25:1-2, 4-5
(This story is a devotional for August 29 from Stories of Faith and Courage from the Vietnam War.)