Most of us will be familiar with the ministry of the Army Scripture Readers working under the auspices of SASRA (Soldiers’ and Airmen’s Scripture Readers Association). They have been faithfully witnessing for Christ for almost 200 years. Scripture Reading to the End is one of three books published in the 100th anniversary year of the end of the First World War, recording the ministry of the Scripture Readers during those dreadful years (the other titles being Rough Journal and SASRA at the Somme).
Soon after the outbreak of World War I, SASRA was given permission to post Scripture Readers to army bases set behind the front lines. One such Scripture Reader was William Ransley, himself a veteran of the Boer War. During 1918, he worked as a Scripture Reader in barracks and hospitals in Boulogne, France. This short book is an edited version of his diaries, providing an account of his ministry during that period.
We are familiar with diaries produced by soldiers in the trenches recording their horrific experiences. It is good to also have this account from a servant of Christ. It reminds us that alongside the chaos and horror of war, there were men who were quietly, faithfully and unspectacularly speaking God’s Word to the wounded and dying.
Along with sharing the gospel to servicemen, Ransley encouraged fellow Christian believers who were far from home and whose faith may have been faltering. His compassion and love for those to whom he ministered is evident. The diary is not written in polished English, the theology is not deep and few obvious conversions are recorded, but only eternity will reveal the full impact that God’s Word and a godly life had on the men ministered to by Ransley, some of whom would die of their wounds shortly thereafter. The diary is edited by Bill Newton who adds some historical and biblical explanatory notes.