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SASRA and the World War 1 centenary (2)

September 2018 | by SASRA

WW1: officers at no. 5 stationary hospital, Rouen. Photograph collection of Lieutenant Colonel G.J.S. Archer, RAMC. Credit: Wellcome Library, London.
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In this second article, the Soldiers’ and Airmen’s Scripture Readers Association (SASRA) continues to highlight the work of its forerunners in the last months of World War One.

Reading Ready and The British Flag and Christian Sentinel (the forerunners’ magazines), brings home both the physical suffering and the spiritual fruit known during the war. Please pray that spiritual fruit would also be seen in the British military in 2018.

Each month, Ready included ‘Our roll of honour’, listing members of the Soldiers’ Christian Association killed, wounded, etc., and also those honoured.  The final summary included 241 killed in action, 37 missing and 44 prisoners of war.  It also included 2 Distinguished Service Orders, 10 Military Crosses, 21 Distinguished Conduct Medals and 38 Military Medals. The following extracts are from September 1918:

‘I am a prisoner of war, and I am carrying on our meetings with the men. I should be so much obliged if you would send a parcel containing Bibles, also some New Testaments for giving away. We have Bible readings and prayer meetings every evening. “The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me.” ’

‘During the recent German offensive I had to be very thankful to escape with my life.  Unfortunately, I had to leave my entire kit and belongings, together with Hymn Books, Testaments, Gospels, Tracts, etc. These are all in the hands of the enemy. However, I have done my very best, which I realise is very poor, in making known to all the wonderful love of God.’

‘In our own little Branch, God is a reality to us indeed, often we have been able to meet for prayer and Bible readings, sometimes in the dug-out or in a cellar, and we usually leave these hallowed spots — with our joy full’.

‘Letter from a mother: “I have just received the belongings of my dear boy who was killed … he had a little Testament from the Hut at Rouen.  They were all so kind to him there, that I can never forget your work…” ’

‘Last night after the usual meetings of the day I was writing until one o’clock in the morning to the lads who have passed through here, many of them having been converted here whilst others have been blessed in passing through … God lately used me to go to a soldier who had been separated from his wife and children for several years. He asked me a few days later if I would write to his wife to tell her he had yielded to Christ. I agreed, if he would write a letter also and allow me to see it. In that letter he sought her forgiveness, told her that he had been aroused to see his need of a Saviour and the sin of unbelief. He asked her to pray for him.’

‘ “Cast thy bread upon the waters for thou shall find it after many days.” One is glad and thankful that God has brought about the fulfilment of the above text in one’s own experience. I have been meeting men to whom it was a privilege to speak words of comfort and consolation before they proceeded to the front during the earlier part of the war. They now tell me that when they were about to go over the top or were facing death in the path of duty, that the words spoken had been brought to remembrance and made of God a refuge in the time of storm.’

©SASRA