Christianity in the Military: Truth with Feet
The following article uniquely addresses the spirit of “evangelism” promoted by many Christian military ministry organizations–the evangelism of life example. Christian officers are encouraged to witness with “their feet”–the often silent witness of their everyday words, choices, and actions. While there may be an appropriate time and place for cracking open a Bible and explaining the Gospel, far more often the Gospel is seen when Soldiers, Airmen, Sailors and Marines observe the lives of the military Christians in their midst. Encouraging military Christians to live as models of Godly character–so that their example might influence others–is the heart of military ministry.
This article was written by Lieutenant Colonel Tom Schmidt, USA (Ret.), and is reprinted here in its entirety.
Truth with Feet
In his short, personal letter to Gaius, the apostle John commends his friend for walking in the truth. “It gave me great joy to have some brothers come and tell about your faithfulness to the truth and how you continue to walk in the truth” (3 John v.3).
Truth has feet. More than information merely shoved into our heads, truth is meant to ﬁll our hearts and spill into our entire lives. John expounds on Gaius’s walk in verse 5 writing, “You are faithful in what you are doing for the brothers, even though they are strangers to you.” In his walk of truth, the feet of Gaius apparently stepped beyond his comfortable circle of friends, serving others who intersected with his life.
Truth with feet cannot help but be seen by others, serving as a transforming agent in their lives. John says those who saw Gaius’ walk both bore witness to his love and responded by also going out sacriﬁcially “for the sake of the Name” (3 John v.7).
While on active duty serving as an infantry battalion executive ofﬁcer at Fort Riley, Kansas, I came to observe and admire a young lieutenant known as EJ. I had known EJ for some time in OCF fellowship, and admired the depth and maturity of his personal faith. EJ’s professional excellence, moral character, and maturity led to him being selected to command an Infantry Company as a ﬁrst lieutenant—a position normally held by a captain. In that position I saw EJ’s truth wearing feet.
In earlier duties he earned the reputation as an able and morally strong ofﬁcer. But much more became evident in his new responsibility. Although only slightly more senior to the junior ofﬁcers in the unit, and much younger than his senior NCOs, EJ took time to coach and mentor the ofﬁcers and personally lead the NCOs. Those who were believers seemed to grow visibly in their faith. Others began taming their language and growing in responsibility and selﬂess service as leaders.
Some of these leaders began searching actively for the spiritual answers raised by the witness of EJ’s life. I watched with intrigue as their language, personal demeanor, and response to stress began to look—over time—more and more like EJ’s language, demeanor, and stress response. They saw the boss, liked what they saw, and felt it was worth incorporating into their own lives. It was impressive, seeing a relatively junior and inexperienced ofﬁcer living out his faith in action and literally transforming the leadership and culture of that 120-man unit.
In OCF we ﬁnd strength in our small group fellowships. There truth is ingested and reinforced in our lives. Such fellowship is vital to all believers, yet it is meant to be played out in our daily walk. As we receive the Truth—Jesus Christ Himself—and are transformed through His Word, we will do well to walk it everywhere we go beyond the holy huddle of the OCF fellowship.
Just as John responded to Gaius’ walk and its effect on others, I want to encourage this fellowship of truth bearers we call OCF to continue to take the truth of Jesus Christ to the world with our feet.
Originally published in the August issue of Command magazine, copyright 2008, Officers’ Christian Fellowship of the USA, Englewood, Colorado. Reprinted/Used with permission. For subscription information, call 1-800-761-1984 or visit www.ocfusa.org.