Paul N. F. (10 June 2011)

True Stories From "The 700 Club"


Across the United States, memorials honor the men and women who served their country in the Second World war. But the memorial in the little gulf coast town of Seadrift, Texas, is different. It is a testimony to the courage of the soldiers and sailors from Seadrift - and, in a way, it is a testimony to the miracle-working power of God.

In 1942, the pastor of the First Assembly of God, Robert Caddell, wanted something tangible to remind the church to pray for the church's men in uniform. So he encouraged members to bring in pictures of their loved ones in the military.

Soon, 52 pictures of soldiers and sailors were collected and Pastor Caddell framed them in a collage.

Members of the church began meeting to pray for the men in the collage. Lora Weaver, who was in her 20s at the time, remembered, "We all began to get a burden for those boys -­ began to meet and pray, seek God for their safety."

Mary Wilson Neill, who was a young girl with several brothers overseas, said, "I can never remember a night that I went to bed that I didn't remember to pray for the men. ... And we never had a service in the church that they weren't mentioned, in prayer.

The church prayed for the Gaines brothers  --  Lonnie and Ora, whose young faces smiled out from the prayer collage. Before Lonnie left for the war, Pastor Caddell had made him a special promise.

"Brother Caddell ... took my hand," Lonnie remembered, "and prayed and said: `Brother Lonnie,' he said, `You're going to come back. ... I'm going to be on my knees day after day and night after night ... and people are going to be praying for you to see you through this thing."

As far as Lonnie is concerned, prayer did see him through. "We never lost a man off our ship," he said, "but we came close to it." Lonnie's ship had one of the most heart rending jobs in the South Pacific - searching for survivors of ships sunk in battle. "A lot of the boys lost their lives that we picked up," Lonnie remembers. "We picked them up, and some we'd have to take ... up on the mountain in Okinawa and bury them. ... But I thank God for saving my life."

    While Lonnie was in the South Pacific, his brother Ora was on a tug boat off the coast of Alaska. Pastor Caddell and the Seadrift intercessors were pray­ing for Ora the day that his "big tow boat went down and sank."

Ora remembers that his boat "went down pretty fast. But we all managed to get off. God [was] taking care of us. If He [hadn't], there wouldn't have been any other way we could've gotten off."

Back in Seadrift, people kept praying, although times were hard for many of the wives and mothers left behind. "I know one of our little ladies," Lora Weaver recalls, "she'd come and pray then she'd leave because she was taking in ironing and washing to help make a living."

Gerald McGowen was an airman flying supply missions with the Army Air Corps. Like other men in the Seadrift collage, Gerald is con­vinced that prayer saved his life. Gerald and his buddies were on a training mission, pushing mock supply bundles out of the plane's cargo bay. They had just kicked a bundle out when its parachute opened too soon and became tangled in the plane's tail assembly. They started losing altitude fast.

"I was stranded on the right side of the open doorway," Gerald remembered, "and I hit the ceiling when the plane started bouncing. I kept reaching for a hand-hold ... because I knew I could tumble out. ... All of that time, I was bouncing up and down ... I believe there was a hand-hold that I got that I didn't realize then, and that was the hand-hold of Jesus Christ."

Of the 52 men in the Seadrift collage, every one came home from World War II alive.

Today Timothy Smith pastors Seadrift's First Assembly of God, where the collage still hangs in a place of honor.

"I am pastoring those people who prayed during the war," Pastor Smith said, "[and] their children and their grandchildren. The heritage and legacy of their faith has been passed on from the parents to the children and from their children on down to the grandchildren. And it shows."

The legacy continues. Each and every person from the First Assembly of God that served in Korea and Vietnam also returned home safely - thanks to the prayers of the church and the faithfulness of the Lord.

When people comment on the miracle of the Seadrift collage, Pastor Smith refers them to the miracles of protection God did for the children of Israel.

     He says it's the same today as it was then: "Every time mighty things happened, it was because people were praying."
Yours in Christ,
Paul N. F