A Living Testimony to the Unlimited Grace of God
To Pastor Stan Moody:
Enlisted by God:
I remember accepting Christ as my Savior at the age of 8 as clearly as if it happened yesterday. I was lying on my bed, believing that God was so real that I could talk freely and openly. I asked Him to live within me, and I felt the Spirit of God become real in my body. God’s presence has been real ever since, even to this day.
I have continued to talk with God. Sometimes I ask questions; sometimes I’ve been happy; sometimes confused or sad, and from time to time I have been angry. There were times when I have ignored God until something happened to put me back into a more constant awareness of His presence. I do have a tendency to want things to go my way, but God has always been patient and loving. I did a lot of my growing up in the church, attending every Sunday, including youth groups, evening services, and Wednesday night prayer meetings. It took a lot to keep me walking a straight path while attending public schools, playing sports, and never having been much of a singer.
Enlisted by Uncle Sam:
I was accepted at Gorham State Teachers College with a partial scholarship to become a Vocational High School teacher. I was having a great time living in a college dorm. I even went to the local Baptist church once in a while. Things were going great! I had it all planned out until I got drafted into the military. My draft counselor said I wasn’t taking college seriously enough, and military service would do me good. I was given three months to enlist in the branch of service of my choice or enter the U.S. Army for a tour of duty in Vietnam. After I came to my senses, my father suggested I take a look at the Air National Guard. They would even help pay for college after attending basic training and completing a technical school. So, I enlisted and went off to basic training in the great State of Texas to a place known as “Happy Lackland”.
I was put in a group of 48 men, all who joined the National Guard to get out of being drafted and going to Vietnam. Our Training Instructor (TI) was wounded in Vietnam and assigned to his position until he was able to return to his career field. He told us we were the lowest form of human beings and that it was his job to set us straight. I surrendered my clothes, my hair, and all contact with the outside world so that my TI could remake me into a worthwhile human being, having only six weeks to complete this task.
I was 1 of a 4-man squad. We did everything together. One of us was a Jew from New York City, a second was a black man from Mississippi, and the third was a wheat farmer from Idaho. We had to become “one” right off. The only thing we could do without the watchful eye of our TI was to go to chapel. We went to Synagogue, Southern Gospel, Methodist, and Baptist chapel services – great bonding in a very short time. As a group of 48, we were together for a very short time, but my life skills were transformed. You might say I went back to the basics at basic training.
I did return to my college education, completing an Associate Degree in “Air Craft and Missile Maintenance” from the College of the Air Force and an Associate Degree in “Architectural Design and Building Construction” from Eastern Maine Vocational Institute. I meet Suzie while teaching disabled adults to build furniture at a local job training program. That led to a very different story.
At Home with the Future Colonel:
I went to work full-time at the Air National Guard after getting married. After 12 years of enlisted service, I was commissioned into the officer ranks and went to work as the War Plans Officer for the 101st Air Refueling Wing based in Bangor Maine. I combined 12 years enlisted with 22 years as an officer and retired at the age of 54. I never left Bangor or the Columbia Street Baptist Church. I raised my family in the church, as my father raised me and my 4 brothers, serving my community and my Lord.
In reading your book, I relate to the many ups and downs of the Christian life that you describe. I was Church President during a time of great growth and change at Columbia Street. We had added the gym and educational building to our programs, and everything we were doing was resulting in a very satisfying expansion as a church. We had, however, lost sight of our mission to the needy and lost.
Finding Victory in Defeat:
I felt the call to lead our church to establish a soup kitchen outreach and presented a plan to reach out to the needy. At a church-wide meeting, I made my case. One of our prominent and wealthy members spoke against this plan and said if we voted for it, he would leave the church and take his money with him. The Church vote went his way, and plans for the soup kitchen were dropped. This was the lowest point in my Christian Life. I was ready to leave the church. My father told me I could not let Satan win and that I must remain as a member of this church and allow God to work in the lives of the church family. I learned a lot about the value of prayer and about trusting in God’s direction for my life – not my way but His. My father was right. I had gone from being mad at God to once again being reduced to a servant, a lesson that serves me well today.
You write about the many ways we teach and learn about God working in us and through us in Sunday School and group worship, as well as in our private time of Bible reading. I have many times had to be reminded of who is in charge, but God has been very patient with me and very generous. I have often wondered why I never left Bangor or Columbia Street, but God has been faithful. Your books have played a key role in my understanding. I’m so thankful to you for putting your thoughts in print.
I continue to read and reread as I live and worship in Bangor.
Lt Col. Mark Tuck, Retired