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A Shout From The Attic: A Youthful Ministry

...Some unlikely groups of soldiers invited me to their barrack room or tent to read from the gospels and to pray for them at Christmas time. It did seem somewhat incongruous to call a mere lad to minister, when the Anglican Chaplain had an office in the camp and was available and willing to help. Perhaps I was less daunting or more approachable...

Ronnie Bray tells of being faithful to his beliefs during army service.

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and a little child shall lead them
Isaiah 11:6

During my service in Cyprus, a soldier of the Green Howard Regiment came back to camp late one night having drunk too much ouzo. He savagely attacked one of his comrades, a Private Sweet I believe, as he slept in his bed, causing terrible injuries. He was put under close arrest, part of which was spent employed on camp maintenance duties under the watchful eye of the Regimental Police.

Whilst painting the fence around the vehicle park on which I worked, he painted his way towards me, and appearing, like a ventriloquist, not to speak, asked me to write to his mother if he was sent to prison for the attack.

He was, and I was pleased to help him and write to his mother explaining, in more gentle terms than he deserved, that he was locked up for a while for something he did whilst drunk, letting the news settle in her mind as gradually and as moderately as I could.

Some unlikely groups of soldiers invited me to their barrack room or tent to read from the gospels and to pray for them at Christmas time. It did seem somewhat incongruous to call a mere lad to minister, when the Anglican Chaplain had an office in the camp and was available and willing to help. Perhaps I was less daunting or more approachable.

It has been suggested that my daily walk and conversation were visible, and my constancy had inspired the confidence of my fellow warriors. Captain Gould, when writing my discharge testimonial, said that I had a religious bias to his actions that he has been strong willed enough to maintain whilst in the forces.

That was when I began to understand the idea that the example we set tells more about us, and that example is more powerful than preaching. I can not say, knowing myself, that I deserved such implicit trust, but I can say that I never betrayed it, nor did I ever neglect to perform any promised service.

I took burdens from men souls that had weighed them down with guilt and remorse, and I will take those burdens to the grave unrevealed. There is probably no person who is wholly lost, wholly beyond the reach of God, given the opportunity to reach out in terms that make sense to the individual.

Perhaps we only fail in ministry when we do not remember that there are many ways to reach the tortured and rebellious soul. Love precedes the miracle.

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