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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

They Died for Me

South Vietnam.
Feb. 25, 1967.

The attack on our platoon instantly overwhelmed us. One moment I was walking a trail on routine recon. The next, I was lying on my back wounded. I should have died then. God, in His mercy, had other plans.

It was God’s mercy, because I was not ready to enter eternity. Although I was raised in church, accepted Christ as my Savior and was filled with the Holy Spirit as a boy, I turned my back on my faith in high school. I decided if other people needed God, that was fine for them. I could take care of myself.

But on the day of that attack, I was completely helpless. I could do nothing to save myself. I’m alive today because two soldiers in my unit took it upon themselves to save me.

As soon as the enemy unleashed its barrage, Frank saw that I was hit. He could have found cover himself, but he worked his way back to me. He would move toward me, then turn and fire back at the Viet Cong. Move ... turn ... fire. The cycle repeated itself in a blur for those few critical seconds as Frank came within 10 feet of where I lay.

Then a machine gun somewhere in the foliage opened up. The spray of bullets killed Frank on the spot. As he fell in my direction, I thought I could see a final expression of sorrow on his face. It was as if he was trying to tell me, “Zollie, I’m sorry. I can’t help you. I did my best.”

Charles must have seen Frank die, but that didn’t stop him from following in another attempt to save me. By that time, the grass around me had caught fire. My rucksack, full of grenades, was about to be enveloped in flames.

When the grenades went off, everything went white around me. When I regained consciousness, I realized Charles had been terribly wounded by that explosion.

The battle turned in our favor. I would recover from my wounds. Charles never recovered from his head injuries sustained during the explosion. The last time I saw Charles, he was in a field hospital, unconscious. His life was forever altered by his brain injury. Charles survived, but in a sense, he gave up the life he once had in order to save mine.

As a result of that experience, God began leading me on a journey back to himself. At 18, I couldn’t begin to understand the level of sacrifice those two men made on my behalf. But when I came back to Christ at 27 and rediscovered what Jesus did for me, I saw the parallel.

The flames of hell had been closing in on me as rapidly as the brushfire in Vietnam. Frank and Charles gave their lives and bought me some time, time I needed in order to recognize anew the sacrifice Jesus Christ made some 2,000 years ago.

Jesus rescued me from the flames of hell. He paid the debt for my sin and defeated the enemy of my soul. He overcame the destructive forces that had me pinned down, and He gave me a hope and a future. Serving Jesus and living for God is such a joy. My life is a memorial that I live to the glory of God through thanksgiving for Jesus and His sacrifice, but also a memorial to Frank and Charles.

As I serve in U.S. Missions, I’m reminded every day that our Seven Windows of outreach are defeating the enemy and rescuing souls once destined for destruction.

I think of Chaplaincy, both military and institutional, as well as those chaplains who serve in various corners of our culture such as rodeos, racetracks and prisons. Mission America Placement Service, or MAPS, sends volunteers to build and remodel facilities so that the gospel can be told. Chi Alpha is on our nation’s campuses reaching students domestically and internationally. Teen Challenge has seen many thousands of people overcome their addictions through the power of Jesus. Youth Alive comes alongside students in our public schools and helps them to share their faith. Church Planters and Developers, as their name declares, is being powerfully used of God to bring to life new centers of worship in our communities. And Intercultural Ministries reaches out to people across the spectrum of ethnic groups in our nation.

Our Lord commands us to reach our world for Him. The Great Commission reflects the heart of God, His desire out of His love for the lost that none should perish (Mark 16:15; John 3:16; 2 Peter 3:9). The Seven Windows of U.S. Missions are seven fronts in a battle to rescue the perishing. Through these Seven Windows, we are attacking an enemy that has sought to take over the lives of God’s highest creations, human beings.

People are precious to God. God has already shown through the sacrifice of His Son that He is willing to go to any length in our behalf. The enemy would oppress us; the enemy would pin us down; the flames of hell would close in on our lives. Each one of us needs divine rescue.

I was rescued by Frank and Charles and, ultimately, by Jesus Christ. Now I join with every follower of Christ in the ministry of reconciliation — reconciling lost, perishing souls back to God, through the work of Jesus Christ.

I hope you will join me, through the Seven Windows of U.S. Missions, to reach unique people groups, special needs groups, and ethnic groups — people who are in places where nobody else will go. Together, we can be the missionaries, chaplains and project volunteers who are out there where people are hurting.

ZOLLIE SMITH is executive director of Assemblies of God U.S. Missions.

SCOTT HARRUP is managing editor of the Pentecostal Evangel.

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