Though We With Giants Fight
LIVES & TESTIMONIES FROM THE BATTLEFIELD
Then the king said to me, what do you request? So I prayed to the God of heaven - Nehemiah 2:4 (KJV).
Alike at work and prayer, to Jesus I repair: May Jesus Christ be praised!’
One of the wonders of the moment someone turns to the Lord Jesus Christ is that their sin, which forms an invisible and yet ever present and impenetrable barrier between man and God is removed. Every believer has “boldness and access with confidence” – (Ephesians 3:12) to the holy throne of God. ‘Alike at work and prayer’ a believer may speak to The King.
What tales have been told of how God has swiftly answered the prayers of His people! Every answer, no matter how small, is exciting and brings joy to the Body of Christ. However, perhaps none is so exciting for others to hear of, as the answers which come to people in the greatest trouble when only God’s miraculous intervention will do. I would suggest that there is little to compare with the dangers faced by and the answers that have come to believers serving in the Armed Forces. Most accounts will only be told in heaven with great praise to God; but some have been recorded and have been kindly brought to my and others’ attention as an encouragement while in service with the British Armed Forces.
This series of articles will record a selection of these accounts.
Despite their spread in time and place, common to them all is the kindness of God, His ever present, and mighty power to help those who call upon Him in the name of His Son. The weapons may have changed from cannon balls to laserguided missiles, but the Lord is the same throughout!
Many who read these articles will have no connection to the Armed Forces of any country. But I trust that seeing the Lord at work in this specific area of the harvest field, might strengthen the hearts of labourers in others. Some might be of the conviction that a Christian should not take up Arms in the service of their country. Please allow this issue to be one for individual conscience to decide, so that together we may give glory to God for these accounts.
Perhaps some readers are still undecided if the biblical record of Christ is true. It is my prayer that through these testimonies every reader might either for the first time, or once again, be able to,
confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father - Philippians 2:11.
Finally, might we observe and follow the example of the holy lives recorded in these articles, which enabled them to overcome, though fighting with giants.
The Letters of William Clements and John Haime
Days of heaven upon the Earth - Deuteronomy 11:21.
The first testimonies are from Christians serving together in the British Army in Belgium in 1745 during the Austrian Wars of Succession. Their experiences were so wonderful, that two Methodists, William Clements and John Haime, wrote to John Wesley to describe the events. Even while at war, the letters reveal how the believers continued to meet regularly for fellowship and were full of love for both their brethren and the enemy. John Haime refers warmly to William Clements in his letter as, ‘my dear brother Clements.’ The cities of Ghent and Alost, mentioned in the first letter, are around 20 miles apart in Flanders (later famous for its World War I battlefields). We know little of William Clements. On return to England in 1749, John Haime was discharged from the Army and became a Methodist preacher.
The Wesleys were often quoted as saying “our people die well!” This brief insight reveals the godliness, and magnificent joy of the Lord of this small body of believers even in the valley of the shadow of death. They were men who could die well!
The Letter of William Clements
I shall acquaint you with the Lord’s dealing with us since April last. We marched from Ghent to Alost on the 14th, where I met with two or three of our brethren in the fields, and we sung and prayed together, and were comforted. On the 15th I met a small company about three miles from the town, and the Lord filled our hearts with love and peace. On the 17th we marched to the camp near Brussels. On the 18th I met a small congregation on the side of a hill, and spoke from those words,
Therefore let us go forth to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach - Hebrews 13:13.
On the 28th I spoke from those words of Isaiah,
Thus says the Lord concerning the house of Jacob, Jacob shall not now be ashamed, neither shall his face grow pale - Isaiah 29:22.
On the 29th we marched close to the enemy; and when I saw them in their camp, my bowels moved towards them in love and pity for their souls. We lay on our arms all night. In the morning, April 30, the cannon began to play at half an hour after four; and the Lord took away all fear from me, so that I went into the field with joy. The balls flew on either hand, and men fell in abundance; but nothing touched me till about two o’clock: then I received a ball through my left arm, and rejoiced so much the more. Soon after I received another into my right, which obliged me to quit the field. But I scarce knew whether I was on earth or in heaven; it was one of the sweetest days I ever enjoyed.
Te Letter of John Haime
Since I wrote to you last I have gone through great trials. It was not the least that I have lost my dear brother Clements for a season, being shot through both arms. To try me further, J. Evans and Bishop were both killed in the battle, as was C. Greenwood soon after. Two more who did speak boldly in the name of Jesus are fallen into the world again. So I am left alone; but I know it is for my good. Seeing iniquity so much abound, and the love of many wax cold, adds wings to my devotion; and my faith grows daily as a plant by the water-side.
April 30 – The Lord was pleased to try our little flock, and to show them His mighty power. Some days before, one of them, standing at his tent-door, broke out into raptures of joy, knowing his departure was at hand; and was so filled with the love of God that he danced before his comrades. In the battle, before he died, he openly declared, ‘I am going to rest from my labours in the bosom of Jesus.’ I believe nothing like this was ever heard of before in the midst of so wicked an army as ours. Some were crying out in their wounds, ‘I am going to my Beloved’; others, ‘Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly!’ and many that were not wounded crying to their Lord to take them to Himself. There was such boldness in the battle among this little despised flock that it made the officers, as well as the common soldiers, amazed; and they acknowledge it to this day. As to my own part, I stood the fire of the enemy for above seven hours; then my horse was shot under me, and I was exposed both to the enemy and our own cavalry.
(Haime later wrote: “..I told my comrades, ‘the French have no ball made that will kill me this day.’ After about seven hours, a cannon-ball killed my horse under me. An officer cried out aloud, ‘Haime, where is your God now?’ I answered, ‘Sir, he is here with me; and he will bring me out of this battle.’”) But that did not discourage me at all; for I knew the God of Jacob was with me. I had a long way to go, the balls flying on every side; and thousands lay bleeding, groaning, dying and dead, on each hand. Surely I was as in the fiery furnace; but it never singed one hair of my head. The hotter it grew the more strength was given me. I was full of joy and love, as much as I could well bear. Going on, I met one of our brethren, with a little dish in his hand, seeking for water. He smiled, and said he had got a sore wound in his leg. I asked, ‘Have you gotten Christ in your heart?’ He answered, ‘I have, and I have had Him all the day. Blessed be God that I ever saw your face.’
Lord, what am I that I should be counted worthy to set my hand to the gospel plough? Lord, humble me, and lay me in the dust!
NEXT – CH Malan, Officer and Evangelist. An account of God’s great faithfulness and power to save.
About the Author
Philip Bray, since his conversion in 1995, has served the Lord at Stroud Green Christian Assembly, London, most recently as an elder and in the work of Christian Alliance Ministries. He is employed as an infantry officer in the British Army and has served in Northern Ireland, Iraq and most recently in Afghanistan. He is a member of the Soldiers’ and Airmen’s Scripture Readers Association, whose object is to encourage personal evangelism in the Army and Royal Air Force.