Thursday, March 24, 2011
The Great Escape (67 Years Later)
Believing he and his fellow prisoners of war were living on borrowed time, Squadron Leader Roger Bushell of the Royal Air Force conceived an idea in the Spring of 1943 to create a mass escape from Stalag Luft 3. Sixty-seven years ago today, March 24, 1944, that Great Escape took place. In one year's time over 600 allied prisoners carefully carried out a detailed plan to dig and develop three major tunnel veins (affectionately called "Tom", "Dick" and "Harry") which lead to one master artery out of the prisoner compound. The plan only allowed for 200 of the prisoners to defect the camp in hopes to find their freedom. And not just any 200 but the first 100 were called "serial offenders", which included men who spoke German well, had previous escape experience and had provided a considerable amount of time digging the tunnel. The second 100 were individuals who were not given much of a chance of success. They were selected by lots and they were men who spoke little or no German, plus they were to travel at night to escape any chance of human interaction.
Unfortunately, there was the need to make the escape on the night of March 24th, earlier than planned. 76 officers made the escape out of Stalag Luft 3 with only 3 reaching the goal of liberty from the stronghold of Hitler's regime. Many of the defectors were murdered. Many of the prisoners that did not have the opportunity to flee lost their lives. Knowing that 600 men diligently put their lives on the line for 3 to reach freedom, was this effort a success? Any business model would tell you that a 1/2% (.5%) return on investment is not even worth lifting a pinky over. But this is not about worldly gain but about the acquiring of freedom from tyranny...the freedom from torment!
Where are we today as a church? Do we look around and see our environment as non-threatening? Our world on earth is a spiritual concentration camp made up of souls under the possession of Satan and his agents which are waiting to devour more individuals who are deprived of the Truth of God (1 Peter 5:8). God, as our 'Squadron Leader' has a perfect Master plan for His children to follow in helping those who are bound by the chains of the devil. We must first know that His requirements are not burdensome (Matt. 11:29-30) but easy and light.
Our rescuing efforts will revolve around three focus groups: Lost souls, souls once rescued but entrapped again, and finally ourselves. Jesus was very clear through His teaching to His disciples in Galilee when He said, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit." (Matt. 28:18-19). This Great Commission is THE tool for the Great Escape of prisoners caught up in the snare of the adversary.
Secondly, our focus is directed towards the words from both the Paul and James. Paul's inspired words to the Galatian church family states, "Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ." (Galatians 6:1-2) And James' words to the dispersed Christians, "My brethren, if any among you stray from the truth and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his souls from death and will cover a multitude of sins." (James 5:19-20)
Finally, Paul through the direction of the Holy Spirit, informs Christians that we can escape temptation. Paul writes, "No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it." (1 Corinthians 10:13).
You see, an effort from a 350 member congregation working together on a rescue mission which may initially only produce 1 restoration or 1 saved soul, isn't a failure...it's a success!