August 4th 2014
The date that marks 100 years since the start of World War 1 – the war to end all wars!
This is neither a celebration nor a commemoration but rather an opportunity to reflect on the world’s desperate need for peace, a need very much emphasised by the news of conflicts around the world at this time. Bp John, Oxford Ad Clerum July 2014
The words and, sometimes, the very presence of the Bible were a source of comfort and inspiration to those who faced the hazards of the First World War.
IN 1916, George Vinall wrote a letter home from the Front which must have made his parents’ blood run cold. In sober, measured tones, he described how his gun position was being shelled by German troops. A dozen men were injured; two later died of their wounds.
Vinall was saved by the fact that a friend called him over to the edge of the tent in which all the men slept. Had he stayed where he was, he, too, would have been killed. A few days later, Vinall sent his parents four bullets that had come from the German shell, as well as his Bible, in which one had become embedded.
He wrote: “Four bullets came in, one being embedded in my kit where my head would have been but for the arrival of my friend. Another was on the floor where I would have been lying. The third was in the pocket of my tunic, having been stopped by my Bible, as you can see.” Adding that he was “without a scratch, safe and well”, he ascribed his survival to God.
One of the bullets had stopped at Isaiah 49.8. He told his parents: “The verse where the bullet stopped contains these words, which caught my eye directly I saw it, ‘I will preserve thee.'” He went on: “May this be true of future days until I see you all again is my heartfelt prayer.”
He did survive, and, in fact, went on to become a Bible Society translator in Japan.
Vinall was not unique in interpreting his experiences of war through the lens of the Bible. It was a defining influence on British society across the class divides. From the public school to the Sunday school, from art and music to political de-bate, the Bible was in the blood of British people.
Every member of the British Armed Forces received a New Testament as a standard part of his kit, alongside uniform, gun, and boots.
Photo and article from Church Times 1 Aug 2014
Consider for a moment the effect if each of the soldiers fighting in wars today – everywhere in the world – carried a New Testament in their kit.
May God bless and protect them all. Give peace in our time O Lord!