A couple of years ago, I visited a small Brethren Assembly in the South of England. One evening, I attended a prayer meeting in support of the Bible Society (UK) helping to raise money for Bible production and distribution. I asked if I could say a few words as an Army Chaplain. I showed them a copy of my Canadian Military New Testament and Psalms, explaining: “I have the privilege of issuing these special items to deploying soldiers. After I interview my serving members, I ask for the honour of praying a blessing over them and I inquire whether they have received their special kit. I give them their military Bible. I tell them that what they are holding is ‘light for today and hope for tomorrow.’ I suggest that when they’re in dark and dangerous places, they pull it out of their uniform breast pocket and take a look at one of the passages suggested in the back. I tell them that God never designed the NT & Psalms to stop a bullet – but I understand that it has.”
Upon returning with friends to their home, one of them, Doreen, said: “You mentioned that you have never seen a Bible with a bullet hole. Wait here.” She handed me a WWII NT and Psalms with a small hole where a bullet had penetrated it. “My Dad, an infanteer, was moving at speed together with his platoon. They were rushing a grassy slope under enemy fire. Suddenly he was thrown forward face first on the ground. His first thought was that his buddy had purposely tripped and pushed him. He looked around wanting to let his buddy know that this was no time for stupid tricks. But nobody was near him. Later that night, as the platoon went to ground in a safe hollow, he pulled out his Bible. There it was, complete with a hole and a bullet still lodged in it. The force of the bullet striking his backpack had thrown him forward and thrown him off his feet. But God’s Word saved his life.”
When I returned to my Unit the following week, I bumped into a former US Marines Sergeant. Every two weeks at my Unit, he leads a meeting for Vietnam veterans. I started to tell him about my trip to England and the extraordinary Bible I had handled. Smiling broadly, he reached into the top pocket of his leather flying jacket and pulled out a small notebook and NT & Psalms. “Look! There’s mine!” he pointed to the hole that had punctured both books. “I always carried these together. Still do. Nobody can tell me that God doesn’t exist. He saved my life in Vietnam!”
In the space of a few days, a story that I had thought of as an urban myth became a reality as I handled two bullet pierced Bibles with my own hands. Now I ask my soldiers to open the Book and read it – before a bullet threatens to open it up.
Paul M Beckingham
Senior Brigade Chaplain
39 Canadian Brigade Group