Sunday, May 27, 2007

Faithful Soldiers

I lose track of North American holidays when I’m overseas. One of the engines of the U.S. economy is the once-a-month special days (Mothers, Fathers, Valentines, Labor, etc.). This weekend is the Memorial holiday, a good day to reflect on those who gave their lives in the service to our country. I’m not sure how many people will actually think about the meaning of the day, I don’t personally know of anyone who has died in combat in the last fifty years. I do think, however, that it’s right and fitting, especially with our involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq, that we set aside a special day for those who paid the ultimate sacrifice of service.

As I traveled to the airport this morning I was thinking about some “other” fallen soldiers. These soldiers died this past year in their service for Christ. I think of my friend Bill Ashton, board member of LCCTI, who succumbed to cancer at the age of 56. Bill’s role in life was that of an organizer and accountant. In the past several years he was Pastor of Administration in a church in South Carolina. Bill was forever telling corny jokes, and he had a ton of them. He died at his post early in life and I miss him.

John Buma was a giant of man. He stood over six feet six inches and his hands were like ham hocks. His tattered second-hand jackets never did fit him, always at least two inches short. John was one of my early students in Kenya and became the pastor of a church in a village a long distance from running water or electricity. No one really knows what Buma died of, probably malaria related. I talked with his widow, Beatrice, last December and she is managing just okay with her four kids.

Lewis Smedes defined faithfulness as finding out "what you are here to take care of, and then give it your best shot." I think of the service of Bill and John and conclude that they gave the Master their best shot. They weren’t trying to win awards or the Medal of Honor; they just faithfully did their job the best they could each day.

Indeed, this is a good day to remember and honor those who faithfully served in the great battle for the souls of men. It’s a good day to remember those serving today. Some serve on the front lines, others quietly serve in support roles, but all are a part of the Good News effort. The great crowd of witnesses that have gone on before cheer us on to take care of why we are here and give it our best.