Desmond Doss

Happy and Blessed 2017!

This holiday season I was able to see the movie “Hacksaw Ridge," the story of an American hero during WWII. The story of Pfc Desmond Doss is truly amazing and inspirational. When Desmond was a young boy there was a picture on the wall in his home of the Ten Commandments. Beside the sixth commandment there was a picture of the story of Cain killing his brother Abel. This picture made a strong impression on this young man, and on his commitment to God. One evening Desmond’s father was in a drunken state when he pulled a gun and threatened to kill his uncle. Desmond’s mother talked his father into giving up the gun and she gave the gun to Desmond and told him to go hide the gun. From that moment on he decided he would never carry a gun again. So, how does a war hero become a war hero without carrying a gun? By trusting his God and what He says.

Desmond wanted to help during WWII. He felt that others should not go and do the fighting for him. But how could he help without carrying a gun? He decided he would join as 1-AO or Conscientious Objector, which means he would be a non-combatant. He considered himself not a Conscientious Objector but a Conscientious Contributor. He signed on as a field medic. He was made fun of for his beliefs and was almost court marshaled. But through all this he was faithful to his convictions.

As a field medic the men of Desmond’s company who had made fun of him soon learned that they could depend on him with their lives. They were sent to the Pacific Theatre and the island of Okinawa. The battle for the island of Okinawa was one of the bloodiest battles of the Pacific. The Japanese had heavily fortified the island. On the southern end of the island was an escarpment called Madea. This was a forty-foot cliff that had been fortified with heavy guns by the Japanese. These guns could fire down on any enemy forces coming onto the island. American forces made several attempts to capture the escarpment only to fail. Desmond’s company was commanded to make another assault on what now was known as Hacksaw Ridge. They had put up ship netting on the cliff to be able to scale up it. When his company got to the top there was heavy fighting. The Japanese had dug tunnels all over the top so they could come up behind any enemy forces that would attack. Desmond’s company was pinned down and cut to pieces so they called for a retreat back down the face. When those who could made it down they realized that only a third of those who went up had come down. One of those who stayed on top was Desmond Doss. All through the night he would go and find a wounded soldier and bring him to the edge of the cliff and lower him down. Then he would whisper a prayer, “Lord, help me get one more!” Before he came down he had lowered over 75 men down that cliff to safety. Even some of the Japanese soldiers were rescued.

The next test came for Desmond was when his commanding officer came to him a few days later and said that they had orders to make another assault on Hacksaw Ridge. The commanding officer knew that it was scheduled for the next Saturday, which was the Sabbath, the fourth commandment. He knew how Desmond put his relationship with God first. So he asked Desmond instead of ordering him. He told Desmond that he was the only medic available and that the men in his company would not make the assault without him. Desmond quoted Jesus and said that it was lawful to do good on the Sabbath and that he would go, but not before he had his time with God. So the battle was on hold until Desmond was ready. This time they took that hill from the Japanese. But Desmond was wounded when he kicked a grenade away to save the life of several men. For his service on Okinawa Pfc Desmond Doss is the only non-combatant to receive the Medal of Honor, the United States of America’s highest military honor; awarded for personal acts of valor above and beyond the call of duty.

On January 19th, at 6:30 pm, Riverside will be showing the documentary about Desmond Doss called “The Conscientious Objector”. When Desmond was asked if he was a hero he said, “No, the real heroes were those who gave their lives that day; the ultimate sacrifice.” He never condemned others for carrying a weapon; he just wanted to save lives rather than take them. It reminds me of what Jesus said, “For God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.” John 3:17.

Desmond learned to trust the One who came to this world and made the ultimate sacrifice to save many lives. One day this war will be over but until then keep trusting Jesus and he will see you through.

I want to thank all of our military personnel who sacrifice so that we might be free to worship and know Jesus.

With a Grateful heart,

Pastor Merrill