© 2023 Warren L. Johns. All Rights Reserved.
A slave woman’s life in ancient Egypt offered less than an ideal setting for motherhood. Pharaoh’s order to Hebrew midwives to kill all male children at birth accentuated an already hostile environment. Unintimidated, Jochebed, mother of Moses, displayed brilliant courage, bucking all odds to spare the life of a son who would change world history.
“Moses was fitted to take pre-eminence among the great of the earth, to shine in the courts of its most glorious kingdom, and to sway the scepter of its power. His intellectual greatness distinguished him above the great men of all ages. As historian, poet, philosopher, general of armies, and legislator, he stands without peer.”
“Yet, with the work before him, he had the moral strength to refuse the flattering prospects of wealth, and greatness, and fame, ‘choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.’” E.G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets, 146.
Every human carries 8,388,608 gamete possibilities which means that the child of a parent couple has more than 70 trillion variant genetic combination possibilities. See Lane P. Lester and Raymond G. Bohlin, The Natural Limits to Biological Change (Dallas: Probe Books, 1989) 54. While a random assortment of DNA dictates the physical ID of a human, character development is vested in an individual’s personal power of choice. Apart from the wide diversity of physical appearances, there are only two character categories: the good and the evildoers.
Moses’ greatness was built on goodness. His goodness was based on an unselfish character and his character resulted from a lifetime of choices reflecting the righteousness of God, the Creator of DNA. Without goodness, there is no such thing as greatness.
Like Moses, the life of Desmond Doss demonstrated goodness in action. Both men lived courageous, purpose-driven lives as true and directed as “the needle to the pole.” The choices made and the decisions taken by both looked to God for guidance. Desmond Thomas Doss (1919 – 2006), assigned by the U.S. Army to serve in the 77th Infantry Division’s Medical Detachment during World War II’s blood bath, put his life on the line, serving humanity. Like Moses, Desmond chose God’s goodness.
This gentleman of the American South, a lean stick of a man weighing in at hardly 150 pounds soaking wet, served God, his country, and his personal faith with courageous distinction. In a small college town just East of Chattanooga, Tennessee, stands a bronze statue honoring this remarkable Christian hero of conscientious conviction.
Doss didn’t believe that man evolved accidentally over deep time. His life was rooted in the Bible narrative that humans were created in God’s own image and given the power of free choice. He faithfully celebrated that conviction by not only setting aside one day in seven to show respect for the creation miracle but also by kneeling bedside each evening to thank his Creator for another day of life. He resisted military pressure to carry a rifle designed to kill another human—unlikely credentials for a future recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor.
During World War II’s raging fury, when sixty million human lives were snuffed out, many Christian men and women stood tall in the tradition of the apostle Paul, risking their own lives courageously, to save others!
Doss, a humble Christian from the American south, epitomized Christian heroism. He did his duty serving his country and the United States Army as an unarmed medic during World War II. Doss took his faith with him, kneeling to pray bunk- side in Army barracks before retiring, ignoring the taunts. Once, while on his knees, a soldier’s boot sailed by, cast his way by a scoffer.
All bullying derision disappeared once the 77th Division faced combat in the bloody Battle of Okinawa and encountered “a heavy concentration of artillery, mortar and machinegun fire” on Hacksaw Ridge. The only medic available to a 155-man company, the twice-wounded Doss, displayed “courage above and beyond the call of duty” by repeatedly exposing himself to the withering barrage sweeping the Maeda Escarpment, single-handedly rescuing 75 wounded soldiers.
“He was a company aidman when the 1st Battalion assaulted a jagged escarpment 400 feet [120 m] high. As our troops gained the summit, a heavy concentration of artillery, mortar, and machinegun fire crashed into them, inflicting approximately 75 casualties and driving the others back.
“Pfc. Doss refused to seek cover and remained in the fire-swept area with the many stricken, carrying all 75 casualties one by one to the edge of the escarpment and there lowering them on a rope-supported litter down the face of a cliff to friendly hands.
“On May 2, he exposed himself to heavy rifle and mortar fire in rescuing a wounded man 200 yards [180 m] forward of the lines on the same escarpment; and 2 days later he treated 4 men who had been cut down while assaulting a strongly defended cave, advancing through a shower of grenades to within 8 yards [7.3 m] of enemy forces in a cave’s mouth, where he dressed his comrades’ wounds before making 4 separate trips under fire to evacuate them to safety.
“On May 5, he unhesitatingly braved enemy shelling and small arms fire to assist an artillery officer. He applied bandages, moved his patient to a spot that offered protection from small arms fire, and, while artillery and mortar shells fell close by, painstakingly administered plasma. Later that day, when an American was severely wounded by fire from a cave, Pfc. Doss crawled to him where he had fallen 25 feet [7.6 m] from the enemy position, rendered aid, and carried him 100 yards [91 m] to safety while continually exposed to enemy fire.
“On May 21, in a night attack on high ground near Shuri, he remained in exposed territory while the rest of his company took cover, fearlessly risking the chance that he would be mistaken for an infiltrating Japanese and giving aid to the injured until he was himself seriously wounded in the legs by the explosion of a grenade. Rather than call another aidman from cover, he cared for his own injuries and waited 5 hours before litter bearers reached him and started carrying him to cover. The trio was caught in an enemy tank attack and Pfc. Doss, seeing a more critically wounded man nearby, crawled off the litter; and directed the bearers to give their first attention to the other man. “Awaiting the litter bearers’ return, he was again struck, by a sniper bullet while being carried off the field by a comrade, this time suffering a compound fracture of 1 arm. With magnificent fortitude, he bound a rifle stock to his shattered arm as a splint and then crawled 300 yards [270 m] over rough terrain to the aid station.
“Through his outstanding bravery and unflinching determination in the face of desperately dangerous conditions Pfc. Doss saved the lives of many soldiers. His name became a symbol throughout the 77th Infantry Division for outstanding gallantry far above and beyond the call of duty.”
World War I left a trail of unprecedented mass killings. Wilbur Schall, a young American serving his country on the European battlefield, survived the war and a vicious mustard gas attack but faced a future handicapped by a debilitating physical injury from that attack. Still, this courageous Christian gentleman, came home to raise and care for a loving family and to faithfully serve an appreciative community.
The Apostle Paul warned of end-time evildoers. The horror of war’s mass killing fields reflects evil’s rampage.
“But mark this: there will be terrible troubles in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash,
conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God having a form of godliness but denying its power.” II TIMOTHY 3:1-5
Christians, like Doss and Schall, lived lives that overwhelm evil, reflecting the character traits of Jesus. “Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” GALATIANS 5:22, 23 “Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience …Forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” COLOSSIANS 3:12,13
Survivors of war’s killing fields, who have “walked through the valley of the shadow of death,” and have chosen to walk in the footsteps of Jesus, are guided by a power far greater than the most destructive force ever devised by mankind. Christian lives intuitively preach sermons resonating with God’s love globally.
Professing allegiance to the Creator doesn’t make you a Christian any more than stepping into a garage makes you a car. Church pews house the faithful who walk-the-walk, alongside mean spirited, hangers-on, who flaunt exteriors, professing a “form of godliness.”
True believers invite the power that created all life and hung the moon to enter their hearts and transform their identities. The world sees Jesus in these “reborn,” shining-light lives who walk the streets as unsung heroes!
The most persuasive sermons are not preached from a pulpit, nor composed in a book, but are lived each day on the street, in the office, and in the home. Christ-centered behavior, not intellectual pontificating, validates true religious faith! Peace begins with a smile, and a clear conscience, marking the rewarding trail to abundant living.
Christian personalities, radiating humility, kindness, and compassion, intuitively set an upbeat mood for everyday contacts. These God-given characteristics act like a magnet attracting others to their presence.
When intelligent integrity embraces God’s formula for inner peace, lives showcase the power of good trumping evil. Those walking with God, like Desmond Doss and Wilbur Schall, overwhelm a corrupt environment just as a white lily brightens the surface of a weed-choked pond.
Christ made it clear in Mathew 25 that in the eyes of God, there are but two categories of people: the righteous, and the evildoers; the saved, and the lost. Unlike evildoers whose futures leave black nothingness, the likes of Doss and Schall leave a shining trail linked to a royal line of the righteous who “obey the commandments of God and remain faithful to Jesus.”