After Vietnam: Camp Lejeune and Church Bells

A protestant church at Camp Lejeune.

During the day, every day we would be training for war. Even though I just got back from Vietnam and only had six months left of my enlistment, they kept us fit and ready for combat. Because you never know, they told us, when we would be called back again. After all, we were Marines, and a Marine is always ready, “always faithful.”

But after every day of training, my mind was focused on higher things—on what God had in store for me after my enlistment. I remember wanting so badly to saturate my mind with the word of God. I wrote down all the verses that I knew from memory, like John 3:16-17, 1 John 1:9, Matthew 7:7, and a few others. I had about ten verses on my list. I would start with those. It was my plan to review them daily and then to add to them.

I also had a growing desire to meet God in prayer. After it was dark, I went for walks. I found a place way back behind our barracks, through some trees and by a water bay. It was a secret place that only I knew about. There I sought the Lord. I didn’t ask Him much, I just wanted to be in His presence. Now that I think about it, I think He was seeking me more than I was seeking Him. And every day was the same. He kept drawing me to Himself and wanting me to come to Him.

One day, it must have been a Saturday or Sunday, I decided to go for a walk around the Marine base. My mind was on seeking the Lord for Christian fellowship. I thought it would be good to meet some Christians that I could have fellowship with. As I walked, I quoted Matthew 7:7: “Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”

From that verse I ask Him to show me a church where I would find Christians to fellowship with. I continued to walk, and then I heard what sounded like church bells. So, I said to myself, I’ve got to check this out. I walked toward where I thought the sound was coming from, and then I saw the church. I came up to the doors. They were open so I cautiously entered. The pews were all empty, but then I saw a few guys gathered around in front by the church altar. I boldly walked toward them. An older man, about in his 30’s, was reading to the guys from a little booklet. Soon I recognized that it was a gospel track. He was presenting the gospel to these guys, which I assumed were Marines.

After his presentation the leader approached me with a smile and a handshake. He told me that he knew I was a Christian by my smile. God had answered my prayers according to His word. I asked Him to directed me to Christian fellowship and He did. I sought for it and I found the church. I came to the door of the church and it was open and I walked in—I didn’t even have to knock.

I found out later that the man who was sharing the gospel with the Marines in the church was a representative of a group called the Navigators. I would soon be a part of that group.

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