In honor of Veteran’s Day this story is posted to relay an important episode in my husband’s military career. It has been published in several Sunday School take home papers. We never know when a military person might need a nudge toward God. Can you provide that to some vet today?
By John Reusser
As told to
Kayleen J. Reusser
In 1972, I was 20 and a new Air Force recruit, fresh out of TechnicalTraining School. I had been assigned to MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida, for weapons training. Having been raised on a dairy farm where the demands for my time were strict, I was tempted to spend most of my free time at the beach.
But Mom and Dad had taken us kids to church each Sunday while I was growing up and I chose not to slough off my religious upbringing.
Instead, I read the New Testament issued to me from the military chaplain. That inspired me to look for a church like the one in the New Testament with preaching about God and His leading. It wouldn’t be easy when none of my buddies were interested but I wanted to go anyway.
I wasn’t even sure what to look for. The church at home spoke nearly every Sunday about social problems and how to become better citizens. I didn’t know if every church was like that or if a church that used only the Bible for its guidelines existed. I just knew I was tired of listening to lectures by men and sometimes women who preferred to speak on issues of the day instead of the Scriptures.
I prayed and asked God to help me find a church that believed the Bible and followed it.
The base chaplain directed me to a nearby street where three churches were located. They looked similar, but the one with “Christian” in its name caught my attention. I visited there the following Sunday.
What happened that day amazed me. First, the entire congregation took communion and said it was done each week. The preacher pointed out how the disciples had done this so it made sense.
Then the preacher gave a simple, clear sermon from the Bible. He didn’t tell us how to become better citizens, but how we could obey God’s command to strengthen His Kingdom by following Him.
Then he said anyone who wanted to accept Jesus Christ as his or her personal savior could be baptized right then. He made it sound like the most important decision a person could make.
When a young woman stepped out from the aisle and talked briefly to the preacher and he announced they would have a baptism in a few minutes, I couldn’t believe it. They were actually going to do it that morning!
I watched, mesmerized, as the young woman’s head went under water a few minutes later in the baptistry. The minister uttered words that were strange-sounding: “I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.” Then he carefully placed his hands under the girl’s head and lowered her into the water. As she came up, she seemed to glow.
I was astounded. The minister explained the church practiced baptism for remission of sins just as it was described in the New Testament. I knew from my daily Bible readings that baptism was as important to a person’s Christian faith as repentance.
It didn’t take long for me to decide that this church, Westshore Christian Church, was what I had been looking and praying for. The minister introduced me to the couple in charge of the church’s singles’ ministry. I attended there as often as I could and accompanied the young adults on many of their excursions. The sermons taught me much about living the Christian life.
Eight months later, I was released from active duty and returned to the Midwest to join the Reserves. At home, I visited a couple of churches before finding one that followed New Testament practices. In February 1978, my parents, two brothers, and I were baptized in the First Church of Christ in Bluffton, Indiana.
I met my wife there and we married in 1980. We’ve brought up our three children in the same church which has never deviated from its Christian teaching. We pray our children will raise their own families in a Bible-believing faith.
I don’t think it was a coincidence that God led me to Westshore Christian Church. I had been praying for wisdom and guidance in finding the right church and God honored that request. Churches, like Westshore, that are located close to military bases, have the unique opportunity to reach out to people stationed there. Often, as was my case, these young men and women and sometimes their families, are at a critical point in their lives. No one is there to look over their shoulders and tell them what is right or wrong. They have to decide these things on their own.
The military life, just as any other, has possibilities for personal growth. But it also has areas for potential pitfalls. The church needs to be there to get involved and help pick up the pieces.
I am thankful to the people at Westshore Christian Church who made me feel a part of their lives for a short time. Their Christian example touches not only my life but the lives of others. Only God knows how much this answer has influenced generations to come.