Is the heart of the serviceman harder to penetrate with the Gospel than that of the civilian? The situation on one Naval vessel might so indicate, for of its 3,000 men, reports an officer, less than 5 per cent attend Sunday church services.
There are chaplains and Christian servicemen, however, who consider the man in uniform just as open to the message of salvation as his civilian counterpart. The serviceman has basically the same needs and wants, and the Spirit who convicts of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment is no less active among the military than among any other group.
According to a survey reported by Lieutenant Commander Floyd Robertson (USN, ret.), executive secretary of the National Association of Evangelicals’ Commission on Chaplains, the young serviceman’s interest in spiritual matters is actually twice that of a civilian person of the same age. For this reason, believes Robertson, the military “is one of the greatest mission fields on earth.”
A serviceman is more receptive to a call to repentance at certain times, however, and certain kinds of presentation have been found more effective than others.
Said Chaplain A. D. Prickett (now with the U.S. Naval Hospital in Jacksonville, Florida) after nineteen years of duty: “I have found more conversion experiences among those in boot camp than in any other place.” A possible reason for this situation, he suggests, is a greater receptiveness at this time to “new thoughts and ideas.” Another reason, according to a Marine Corps officer, is that “there is much passive social pressure working against a man who begins attending church after a past of non-attendance.” Major Jesse J. Johnson of the First Training Regiment, Fort Dix, New Jersey, gives a third reason: “The ...1
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