Faith and Courage
February 3rd is Four Chaplains Day. It is story of faith, courage, and selflessness. Here is an excerpt of that story from the Four Chaplains Memorial Foundation:
On Feb. 3, 1943, the U.S.A.T. Dorchester carrying 902 service men, merchant seamen and civilian workers was sunk in the cold Atlantic. Through the pandemonium, according to those present, four Army chaplains brought hope in despair and light in darkness. Those chaplains were Lt. George L. Fox, Methodist; Lt. Alexander D. Goode, Jewish; Lt. John P. Washington, Roman Catholic; and Lt. Clark V. Poling, Dutch Reformed. Quickly and quietly, the four chaplains spread out among the soldiers. There they tried to calm the frightened, tend the wounded, and guide the disoriented toward safety.
One witness said, “I could hear men crying, pleading, praying. I could also hear the chaplains preaching courage. Their voices were the only thing that kept me going.” The chaplains distributed life jackets and when there were no more, they removed their own life jackets and gave them to four frightened young men. As the ship went down, survivors in nearby rafts could see the four chaplains–arms linked and braced against the slanting deck.
The Four Chaplains remind us that faith, at its most powerful, leads us to courage in the face of adversity and selflessness when we can help the meet the needs of others. Those chaplains lived out the words of Jesus: “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). May we too exemplify a courageous faith.
Holy God, you inspired the Dorchester chaplains to be models of steadfast sacrificial love in a tragic and terrifying time: Help us to follow their example, that their courageous ministry may inspire chaplains and all who serve, to recognize your presence in the midst of peril; through Jesus Christ our Savior, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.