His nightmares began each day when he awoke. James Stegalls was nineteen. He was in Vietnam. Though he carried a small Gideon New Testament in his shirt pocket, he couldn't bring himself to read it. His buddies were cut down around him, terror was building within him, and God seemed far away. His twentieth birthday passed, then his twenty-first. At last, he felt he couldn't go on.
On February 26, 1968, he prayed for it all to end, and his heart told him he would die before dusk. Sure enough, his base came under attack that day and Jim heard a rocket coming straight toward him. Three seconds to live, he told himself, then two, then...
A friend shoved him into a grease pit, and he waited for the rocket to explode, but there was only surreal silence. The fuse malfunctioned.
For five hours James knelt in that pit, and finally his quivering hand reached into his shirt pocket and took out his Testament. Beginning with Matthew, he continued through the first 18 chapters.
"When I read Matthew 18:19-20," he said, "I somehow knew things would be alright."
Long after Jim returned home, as he visited his wife's grandmother, Mrs. Harris, she told him a night years before when she had awakened in terror. Knowing Jim was in Vietnam, she had sensed he was in trouble. She began praying for God to spare his life. Unable to kneel because of arthritis, she lay prone on the floor, praying and reading her Bible all night.
Just before dawn she read Matthew 18:19-20. Then she immediately called her Sunday school teacher, who got out of bed and went to Mrs. Harris' house where together they claimed the Lord's promise as they prayed for Jim until reassured by God's peace.
Having told Jim the story, Mrs. Harris opened her Bible to show him where she had marked the passage. In the margin were the words -- "Jim, February 26, 1968."
I don't think we are nearly aware enough of how crucial our prayers are for the lost and hurting. Sometimes we don't get to see the fruit, but God hears and answers our prayers! Don't be discouraged today -- keep lifting your voice in intercession and expect great things! (George, Baht Rivka, Elianna & Obadiah)