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Though He Be Dead He Still Speaks

On this Memorial Day my mind goes back in time to heroes I have known. And as usual, I think of my brother in Christ from years past. I do not wish to forget, for he still inspires me. Some of you will recall my sharing him with you years ago, but most will not.

Wilfred H. “Chick” Mensching served as a Marine for thirty years and was a veteran of World War II and the Korean War. He survived the Bataan Death March, was a prisoner of war in the Pacific for three and one half brutal years, suffering inhuman treatment at the hands of his captors. He was a recipient of two Purple Hearts and the Bronze Star. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

In the early 1990s we lived in Vista, California (near Oceanside), and we knew Chick as a noble gentle brother in Christ. He was a faithful Christian, lacking in self-pride. I enjoyed our chats together and his sense of humor. He was aan honorable man, who you knew had much to tell but was too modest.

One day we learned that our dear brother was in the hospital and close to death. We prayed fervently for him and his dear wife, Hazel. Prayers of faith were answered, and he was returned to us. Chick asked to speak to the assembly on the Sunday morning of his return. What he spoke and feelings he shared that day are with me still.

“I was almost home!” These were the first words out of his mouth. In place of joy from survival, his tone and words spoke of disappointment. Chick was caught in the dilemma of staying in this life or being in the presence of Christ. While most of us would have chosen the former; in his wisdom Chick longed for the latter.

That Lord’s Day and Chick’s words bring to mind the words and feelings of the apostle Paul in his letter to Timothy:

“For I am now ready to be offered and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith; henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day, and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.”  2 Timothy 4:6-8

We all live life seeking joy and fulfillment with family and the blessings from God. That is His will. But as we get older and see the end of life approaching, our priorities change. We consider deeper thoughts and too often cling to the life we now enjoy.

Chick is one of my heroes, as he set the example for how to face the end. Will we be afraid? Will we be sad? Or will we trust in the Lord and push aside our natural fears for the joys that await?

The lesson from my hero of those days is to live life in service to God and by His will. If we do so, then we can be free of fear. Paul’s wisdom shared with Timothy: “And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory forever and ever!”

So what is the lesson for us from this good Christian man of days gone by?

We are each given the opportunity to be heroes of faith to those about us. We may not wear war medals nor have a heroic story to share, but for those who serve in God’s vineyard, who raise a child, lift a brother, care for a sister, or who love a spouse… the opportunity calls. Eyes are watching, both young and old. We are in the arena. Will we strive valiantly or be with the cold timid souls who never try? How will we be remembered? Whose hero will we be?