It's been a year now since God began dealing with me about the body of Christ, His church, coming together as one. I kept asking God, "Why me? Why are you showing me this?"
He replied, "Because you know how it feels to be united and you understand the importance of acting in one accord." I still wasn't sure what the Lord was trying to show me until He took me back four different times to my Vietnam experiences.
I had been a machine gunner in Vietnam , which was a very dangerous assignment. It was said that in battle, a gunner's life span was thirty seconds. I had been there for eight months fighting in battle after battle, defying the odds. My gun crew of seven were unified due to the danger of our mutual circumstance, though we had little else in common. Scott was a black fellow from Texas , Johnson was a hillbilly from Tennessee , and I was from Pennsylvania . Not one of us was a Christian, yet at bedtime I observed we spent our time praying rather than card playing, etc.
One of the times of which the Lord reminded me was a battle on September 12 ,1968 , just ten days after my 23 rd birthday, in a place called Tu Bong. The weapon squad I was in assaulted a NVA base camp. We had done assaults many times before, but this time it was different; we were disunified and out of synch. The rifle squads hadn't come with the weapon squad. Because of this disunity, the entire weapon squad I was in was wounded.
Then I knew God was saying how important it is that His church be unified. We must watch out for each other and not let down our guard. The closer we become, the less opportunity there is for the devil to infiltrate the Church.
Next, I began to understand the difference between man's weapons and God's armor. Man's weapons become ineffective through use, whereas God's become more powerful. For example, the more I used my machine gun, the less power it had.
During the assault at Tu Bong, I fired 2800 rounds which caused my gun to grow hot. In turn, the firing action slowed way down until it sounded like a single bolt-action rifle. On the other hand, God's weapons - His Word, the Bible, prayer and praise - become more powerful as His body reads His Word and comes together in unified prayer. Because God is always a 100% blesser , healer, forgiver, etc., He wants 100% response from his bride. God is not satisfied when only 60% of the church is praying and praising.
My company in Vietnam kept its battle armor on twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. God expects us to wear our armor at all times too, not just on Sunday and Wednesday. When we don't continue in His Word, pray in unity, or praise Him at all times, we leave an opening for Satan, just as the Viet Cong waited and watched for weakness in our line.
When the body of Christ is unified, we will help each other and pray for the weaker members. Without this unity, the devil will wound God's people.
In Vietnam , we always operated with another company a click or two apart. A click is about a mile or so. Our sister company, called Charlie Company, was never bonded together as was my company. Thus, I watched Charlie Company be replenished three times with young men due to heavy casualties. In the assault on Tu Bong where I was wounded, Scott, my 18-year-old assistant gunner, came to my aid because he saw my need, even though he didn't or couldn't fully comprehend my exact problem. I believe this is God's message to the churches today - that we are all brothers and sisters in Christ who need to help each other so the enemy can't destroy us as the enemy almost destroyed Charlie Company.
Finally, on one of my walks with God to Vietnam , He showed me things about giving that I hadn't realized. When I was in Vietnam for the first time, God showed me the little children. They went naked until they were two or three years old. They had no beds for sleeping, no blankets for covering themselves, and no dishes or bowls for eating. The only bowls I had seen were made from coconut shells. The children had no spoons, but ate with their fingers. Their little bellies were swollen from hunger; they ate only one small bowl of rice a day, yet each one of those starving children always offered that bowl of rice to me. I know now what giving is all about. God showed me through these children that we're never too old to learn and never too young to teach.
The last question God asked me was if I knew what was worse than living in sin. He then told me, "dying in sin!" The only difference is ONE HEARTBEAT.
(On January 11, 1997 , Skip went to be with the Lord.
He kept his faith to the end. We miss him very much.)