from Issue #1, April 2016, page # 26
by James G. Landis
The United States and Canada claim that because you are a citizen or a subject, a young person who turns 18 has an obligation to “serve your country.” And this usually means fighting in the army or an attached part of the military. In wartime, trying to evade this so-called service is a very serious crime.
Some of us who are older, well remember the posters with a stern-faced Uncle Sam in a blue coat pointing a bony finger at you. The caption read, “Uncle Sam wants you.” The claim to two to four years of your life in service and a willingness to die for your country has been somewhat blurred by the technology of warfare and the volunteer armies. But the underlying claim to your money and your life is still present.
Of how much greater priority should the claim of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords be on the lives of Anabaptist young people? Should it be two years or four years of active duty in building up Christ’s kingdom? In the words of Romans 12:1, such duty would only be a reasonable service.
Or another example of a reasonable service might be the service program of the Mormons. You have probably seen them — clean-cut young men in long-sleeved white shirts walking the streets and going door-to-door. I have talked with them in Bulgaria and recently on an airplane flying from the mainland of Australia to Tasmania.
I talked with my seat-mate who was one of four young men going to witness in a town of which they knew little more than the name. He claimed to believe the Bible as the inspired Word of God. Our discussion led to military service and the creation account and I asked if I could email him some literature. “No,” he said, “not before my two years of missionary service is finished. We have no internet service, and no magazines or other entertainment during our service period. Our phone calls are extremely limited. We read only the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and a few other church papers. This is a very intense period in our lives.”
Think of that. Imagine Anabaptist young people going door-to-door with only their Bibles, King Jesus Claims His Church, and Anabaptist Voice to read … for TWO WHOLE YEARS. No texting, no internet, and only a call home once a week or once a month! How would they ever survive!
Our fear is that 20-year-olds are not mature enough to withstand the encounters and experiences they might have in such missionary service. They might even lose their faith … or their lives. But we forget the Scripture that says, “If you try to save your life, you will lose it, but the one who gives his life for Christ’s sake and the Gospel, will find a new life in Jesus” (Matthew 10:39; 16:25; Mark 9:37).
With this background, Anabaptist Voice announces a regular feature in each issue named, “A Call to Service.”
In this section, we want to draw attention to Anabaptist organizations whose ministry includes service to others around the world. Things like disaster response, care of orphans, care of old folks, medical relief, teaching institutions, distribution of literature and humanitarian aid are examples of reasonable service.
We would like those Anabaptist organizations who want to be included to write to us and ask to be listed. With the request for a listing should come a story telling about how your organization came to be, its location, what its purposes are, the current staff, the church affiliation, and the opportunity for voluntary service workers.
The organization or church need not be a formal organization registered with the State. A vision for Kingdom Building and a name is sufficient. Kingdom Building service opportunities without pay can include many things, but it should be a means of daily witness and speaking up for the Lord.
Once the organization is listed, the name of the organization and the contact information will appear in each succeeding issue of Anabaptist Voice.