Alvin York – Hero of the Argonne

Wife Reb and son Josiah join Colonel Douglas Mastrianno as he autographs copies of his new book while at Bill Rudge Ministries.  This incredible book of faith and courage is getting tremendous coverage through various secular, Christian, and military media venues.

Wife Reb and son Josiah join Colonel Douglas Mastrianno as he autographs copies of his new book while at Bill Rudge Ministries. This incredible book of faith and courage is getting tremendous coverage through various secular, Christian, and military media venues.

By Colonel Douglas V. Mastriano, Ph.D.

Colonel Douglas Mastriano, Ph.D. is a professor at the US Army War College and has served in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as throughout Europe and the U.S. He has sponsored Bill Rudge to speak on many military bases. Doug’s amazing accounts of Desert Storm were shared in a BRM newsletter and CD entitled Divine Intervention at Desert Storm. His book, Alvin York: A New Biography of the Hero of the Argonne, can be ordered online at http://www.kentuckypress.com. The Mastrianos are faithful supporters of BRM. Please continue to pray for Colonel Mastriano and his family. 

Revelation 12:11 says “They overcame him (Satan), by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony.” A testimony is a powerful thing –– even enough to destroy Satan’s work. The incredible thing is that all Christians have a testimony, and with that in mind, it is incredible how God chooses to use us in powerful ways to change this world for His kingdom.

Thus is the story of Sgt. Alvin York, Medal of Honor 1918. I first saw the Sgt. York movie back in 1972 and remember being troubled by this tale. York was portrayed as someone not looking to be a hero, believing it was against his Christian faith to serve in the Army. This was contrary to the image I had of a hero being a sort of go get-em John Wayne type. But, despite not being all I thought a hero should be, York was the real deal as he proved during the October 1918 Battle for the Argonne Forest, France, where he was indeed a man of iron and honor. It is precisely this that I have tried to capture in my new book, Alvin York: A New Biography of the Hero of the Argonne.

York was America’s greatest hero in World War One; his fearless courage displayed on the 8th of October 1918. During one of the fiercest battles of the war, York’s unit found itself in a crossfire from four battle-hardened German regiments. As the casualties mounted, all hope seemed lost for the beleaguered Americans. Yet in the midst of this, Alvin York rose to the occasion. During the melee and with great daring, he charged a machine gun, fought off a bayonet attack and captured 132 German soldiers. His actions saved the day for the Americans and forced the Germans to withdraw.

Alvin York was born into a poor family in Tennessee on 13 December 1887. When Alvin’s father died in 1911, York rejected his family’s faith. However, on 1 January 1915, Alvin attended a revival meeting. During the sermon, York felt as if lightning hit his soul and he was moved to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. From this point his life was forever changed, and he stopped “smoking, drinking, gambling, cussing and brawling.” York took this commitment seriously, grew in his faith, taught Sunday School, led the choir and even became an elder in his church. York’s old friends tried to persuade him to go drinking, but he refused. It took moral courage for York to remain committed to the Lord, but with the strength of the Holy Spirit and personal resolve, York stayed faithful to his beliefs.

We see in the story of York’s life that character is like a muscle; the more it is exercised, the stronger it becomes. This suggests that every time we choose to do what is right, we build character and moral courage. York consistently chose to follow the Lord’s Way and as a result, he was able to accomplish unimaginable feats later in the heat of battle. York was a hero in battle because he was morally brave in his heart. York had strengthened his character muscle before the time of battle and the courage displayed that fateful day in France was merely an outward manifestation of the internally brave man he had become.

Using cutting-edge historical and scientific analysis to the York story, we have an account of an American hero who accomplished amazing feats on the battlefield! It is timely as well, that 2014 is the centennial of the First World War. As noteworthy as that is, however, there is something deeper and more compelling about York. In the book we find that York was one of those rare people who really walked his talk and strove to live his life honorably and honestly.

Alvin York was a man of character, the sort of hero we need today in America. My prayer is that this book will inspire the next generation to strive to emulate the moral character of York and to make the difference in whatever God has called them to achieve. Indeed, in this book you will see that “we overcome… by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony!”

My Journey from Atheist to Christian

by Dr. Michael Abdul-Malak

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Dr. Michael Abdul-Malak

Dr. Michael Abdul-Malak, a highly respected gynecologist, is not only a friend of Bill and Karen Rudge, having delivered two of their grandchildren, he also is a supporter of the Bill Rudge Ministries. The following testimony describes his journey from avid atheist to devout Christian.

I was born and raised in a nominal Christian home in Homs, the third largest city in Syria. I attempted to read the Bible regularly and to live according to its teachings to the best of my ability. However, no matter how hard I strove to be religious, I nearly always failed to adhere to the teachings of the Bible.

In my early teenage years, having failed to live according to the teaching of the Bible on the one hand, and influenced by the strong atheistic environment surrounding me on the other hand, I became skeptical of the Bible’s teachings. I concluded that Christianity was impractical, and in fact impossible to truly adhere to. Later on, through the study of evolution in public school, reading Darwin’s book “The Origin of Species,” and being exposed to the writings of Karl Marx, I became an avid atheist.

By the age of 17, I had co-founded and led an atheist group that strove to convert fellow students to atheism. At the age of 18, I graduated from high school with the highest score in the entire central district of Syria, and was one of the top ten students in the entire country. Had I not been so skeptical of Christianity, I would have been the top student. In every subject except for religion and sociology, I had received a perfect score.

I went to Damascus for my first year of Medical School in the fall of 1972, and just like Saul of Tarsus –– who made the same journey –– I was full of enthusiasm to fight those who believed in God.

Midway through my first year in Medical School, my closest friend and co-founder of the atheist group converted to Islam. He immediately started to pressure me to become a Muslim.

After a few months of studying the Qur’an and interacting with that group, I was quite impressed, mostly by their dedication to what they believed and how much they supported each other. I became convinced that Islam was the most realistic and the most practical religion to follow. I was ready to announce my conversion to Islam. The only obstacle in taking that step was my concern about the reaction it would provoke within my family members and friends.

In the summer after finishing my first year in Medical School as one of the top three students, I went to my hometown in contemplation of announcing my conversion to Islam.

One day before the end of my visit, I asked my cousin if we could go see the cedars of Lebanon. He took me to a friend of his who owned a car, with the hope that he would be willing to give us a ride there. We were greeted at the door of his friend’s house by a middle-aged man who appeared to be very friendly. He immediately initiated a conversation with us. When he found out that I was attending Medical School in Damascus, he informed me that he was from Damascus as well. He then invited us inside and gave us the most amazing testimony I had ever heard in my life up until that point. He proceeded to testify to us how God had changed his life from an adulterer, gambler, smoker, and an alcoholic to a new man who was able to establish himself and start a wonderful family. He then told us how a man had once visited his shop and had spoken to him about the changing power of the Lord Jesus Christ. He then described to us how he had immediately changed as soon as he surrendered his life to Christ. It was a very powerful testimony about the ability of God to change lives.

I thought to myself, “If that is what Christianity is all about, then I want to be a Christian.” I was, however, curious about the difference between Christianity and Islam. I inquired of him, “What is the difference between Islam and Christianity?” He stated in very simple terms, “Islam is like any other religion. It will teach you what to do, but it will not give you the power to do it. Christianity is Christ Himself living inside of you and giving you the power to do what he wants you to do.” I knew at that moment that Islam was not the solution that I was looking for. I knew also that it was Christianity, and more specifically, Christ that I truly needed. I definitely changed my mind about becoming a Muslim, however, I was not yet ready to accept Jesus as my personal Savior.

Soon the summer ended, and I returned to Damascus to start my second year in Medical School. Even though I became busy immediately in trying to focus on my goal of staying at the top of my class, God continued to work in my life through my studies and in many other ways. One peculiar way he worked on me was through a calendar someone had placed in my rental room. It had a daily Bible verse of encouragement, as well as a commentary on the backside. Every night before I went to bed, I had a strong urge like a still, small voice inside my head that was calling me to read the verse of the day. One night, I was so exhausted from studying I went to bed before I read the verse. I could not go to sleep. I felt strongly compelled to get up and read the slip. “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matt 16:26, NKJV). That verse was exactly what I needed to hear. It penetrated so deep within my heart that I could no longer resist God. I was ready right then and there to surrender my life to God, but I did not know how to do it. I felt at that moment the urge to go and see that man whom I had met in Lebanon in the summer. The moment I greeted him, he recognized me and invited me inside. He asked me about my relationship with the Lord as if he had known all along what had been going on in my life. He invited me to go to his church the next day.

When the preacher got up to the pulpit, read from the Bible, and began preaching. I felt as if he was speaking directly to me. I could not wait for the sermon to end, just so that I could talk to him and ask him to explain to me how I could become a Christian.

The pastor explained to me that we are all sinners and that the only way to have our sins forgiven is through the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross. He read Revelation 3:20, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” He cautioned me however that following Christ could be very costly. I told him that there was no question in my mind that I wanted to open the door for Jesus to enter my life and save me from my sinful nature, regardless of the cost. He told me to repeat after him as he prayed, asking Jesus to forgive my sins, enter my life, and make me a new person in him. I prayed with all of my heart, and I felt an enormous burden fall from my shoulders. I felt like I was indeed a new person, and that the past twenty years of my life were a total waste. I wished that I had known Jesus much earlier.

To Him be the glory now and forever. Amen.

How I Learned to Trust God

Bill Rudge with ministry supporter and friend, Dr. T.V. Oommen, in 2010.

Bill Rudge with ministry supporter and friend, Dr. T.V. Oommen, in 2010.

by Dr. T. V. Oommen

There have been numerous instances in my life when I have had to put my whole trust in God for divine guidance and intervention. I knew from my Bible that as a child of God I have direct access to God, and I need to trust my heavenly Father. Jesus Himself emphasized this point when He told His disciples not to worry about anything, for the heavenly Father knows they need all those things they were anxious about. One of my favorite New Testament passages is Luke 12:22-30 about a worry-free life. I have tried to lead one as much as possible.

Almost anyone can pray in a crisis situation, but how many can trust God in a crisis? How many can keep calm in a seemingly hopeless situation? I learned early in life that trusting God fully is what every Christian should practice. Praying without trust is wasted prayer.

Let me give you a few instances where I had to let God work out the seemingly hopeless situations. Early in November 2006, my wife and I had to fly to India from Raleigh, North Carolina to attend her mother’s funeral. Tickets were speedily booked through a connection in New York and were to be sent overnight by FedEx to our house so that we could leave the same day. But the next day we waited and waited, and the tickets did not arrive at our door. Some phone calls to the ticket agent and FedEx revealed that the tickets had indeed been delivered, but there was an address error.

I went to check at the address they gave, but no mail could be found. It was already noon. Without the tickets our trip would be cancelled. I refused to worry and entrusted the whole situation to God. My two sons joined in the search, and finally at 1:00 p.m. my younger son found the ticket envelope. It had been underneath the front door with a tiny bit sticking out. He pulled it out and found it contained the ticket. So we left Raleigh later that day.

I have had several other similar close calls. Refusing to panic and leaving the matter with God, He has always proven faithful.

Back in December 1976, I was in Illinois with family and without a job because my research grant at Southern Illinois University had stopped. We lived on unemployment benefits for a while and then it ran out. I had a wife and three small children to feed, but not a penny in the bank. I couldn’t leave the States because I had applied for a green card. Even though I did not know what to do, I did not panic.

For Thanksgiving we visited a close friend in Pittsburgh who had been with me in Seattle while we both were doing our Ph.D. program. This friend learned of our predicament and a plan was hatched: write a resume and give it to a top Westinghouse executive who attended the church they went to in Pittsburgh. So after the church service we saw this executive who graciously took the resume. Then we left Pittsburgh and stopped in Indiana where my brother was doing his doctoral studies.

While in Indiana I received a phone call from the Westinghouse executive’s assistant that there was a job opening in a Westinghouse large power transformer plant in Indiana. The assistant wanted to know if I would be interested in an interview for the job. I had no background on transformers, but went for the interview. The engineering manager there wasn’t sure what I could do there as a chemist, but soon learned that I could be of help in a new materials testing lab. So I got the job as a development engineer.

In ten days we moved from Illinois to Indiana in ice-cold weather –– all at company expense. I steadily progressed in my job and retired after 24 years from the highest rank for professionals.

My whole life has been full of miraculous experiences, which involved divine interventions. I would not have had education beyond high school without one of those miracles; I would not have gone for graduate studies or earned a Ph.D. later in life. But God’s leading hand was obvious in all these matters.

We have gone through other family crises as well. All of my three children have had near-fatal encounters at some point in their lives but were delivered from harm. I myself had at least three encounters, the last two within the past three years –– one a cancer encounter (which is in remission now), and the other a recent heart procedure which almost was fatal. But at age 72 I am living a busy and active life, doing some engineering consulting and traveling. I also lead Bible studies for young software engineers.

It is not enough to be successful in life with whatever we pursue. Each of us has to give an account of our lives before God. Are we ready for that? Have we led an exemplary Christian life? Have we lived lives that blessed others? Have we prepared ourselves for eternity by building character? Have we used our time and talents for God’s kingdom? These are key questions we must ask ourselves. Therefore I do not want to boast of my career achievements –– for which I owe thankfulness to God

From Atheist to Creationist to Christian

By Spike Psarris

The following was excerpted from “Creation Conversion: The Turning Point” in Acts & Facts, June 2014. Mr. Psarris has a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Massachusetts, and was formerly an engineer in the United States military space program.

I was an atheist and an evolutionist well into my adult years, working as an engineer in the military space program. One day a Christian co-worker challenged me on my atheism: “You believe in the laws of physics, don’t you?”

“Yes, we use them here every day,” I replied.

“Then how do you reconcile them with the Big Bang?” He didn’t explain what he meant, but he didn’t have to—I suddenly realized that fundamental physics and the Big Bang model don’t get along very well. This was a mental version of scales falling off my eyes as I realized I believed mutually incompatible things. I was surprised, and wondered: Why couldn’t I see this problem before?

This started a long process of re-examining my belief system. I went through a large pile of secular books and textbooks on origins-related science. I was already familiar with much of this material, but this time I was looking to see how many of the claims were based on actual data, versus how many were based on assumptions, flawed reasoning, or wishful thinking. My co-worker also lent me numerous creation and apologetics materials.

I started to see that science as seen from the Christian/creation perspective made a lot more sense than it did from my evolution perspective.

Meanwhile, I was taking some graduate-level physics classes. I started to notice more and more incompatibilities between physics and my evolutionary beliefs. For example, in an astrodynamics class we modeled orbital insertions (where one object gets gravitationally captured and goes into orbit around another). This requires precise maneuvering and the shedding of a lot of energy—our spacecraft can enter orbits around other planets only because they have thrusters, and thus can steer and brake. But objects like asteroids lack this ability, so they’re extremely unlikely to be captured gravitationally into stable orbits around other objects.

Nevertheless, secular scientists invoke gravitational captures over and over again to explain away numerous solar system “anomalies”—objects that don’t match their origin models. I had known this for years and accepted it uncritically. Now that I understood the physics behind captures, I realized how contrived the secular story was. This realization occurred repeatedly as I continued to re-examine my beliefs.

My research wasn’t limited to astronomy—I also investigated other origins-related sciences, as well as history and archaeology. Of these, the things that made the largest impression were the evidence of a global flood, the historicity and reliability of the biblical text, and the overwhelming historical evidence for the resurrection of Christ.

After almost a year of doing this, eventually I had to admit that the evidence (scientific, historical, etc.) did not agree with my atheism. Instead, the biblical account of history was true. I didn’t like this, though. If the Bible were true, then I was a sinner who deserved judgment. But I had to admit that this is where the evidence led.

After struggling with this for a while, I finally realized that yes, I am a sinner. And God knows my sin better than I do. But He also loves me enough to have sent His Son to pay for it in my place. I realized that, truly, the gospel is Good News. What better news could there be? At that point, I accepted the Lord and became a Christian.

There are many people who believe in creation because they are Christians. I am one for whom the opposite sequence is true—I became a creationist first, and a Christian afterward.

Gilbert West and Lord Lyttelton

Two professors at Oxford, the eminent Gilbert West and Lord Lyttelton, the famous English jurist, were determined to destroy Christianity. But to do so, both of these avowed skeptics agreed that two things were necessary. They must disprove the resurrection, and they must dispose of the conversion of the apostle Paul. They divided the task between them, West assuming responsibility for proving the fallacy of the resurrection and Lyttelton disproving Paul’s conversion on the Damascus road. They were to give themselves plenty of time—a year or more if necessary. When they met again to compare notes, they both had become strong and devoted Christians, each testifying to the remarkable change in his life through contact with the risen Christ.

Excerpted from “Who is this Jesus?” by Bill Rudge. 

 

 

It Was a Smoke Screen

by Bill Rudge

I had 101 excuses for not becoming a Christian. As I talked with Pastor Guy BonGiovanni following a service I attended with Karen, I told him, “Before I accept Christ, I want you to prove God exists. Prove evolution is not true. Explain where dinosaurs came from. Tell me why a supposedly loving God allows suffering and evil. And explain why Jesus Christ is unique in comparison to other religious leaders.”

Although he gave me some convincing explanations, I was not ready to accept Christ at that time. My questions were merely excuses –– a smoke screen to conceal my pride and bias –– to absolve me from having to surrender my life to Jesus Christ.

I wanted to continue in my delusion that I was god and continue to live my self-centered and pleasure-oriented lifestyle. But Pastor Guy’s words impacted me as the Holy Spirit began dealing in a powerful way.

I had been searching for meaning and purpose in life –– trying everything imaginable to find lasting happiness and peace. I just returned from hitchhiking across the country and knew that what I was looking for would not be found –– no matter where I went or what I did –– except through giving my life to Jesus Christ.

So at the age of 18, I got on my knees and cried out to God, “If You prove Yourself real to me tonight, I will live my life for You.” God did, and I have never been the same. I have never looked back, except occasionally to remember what I was, where He brought me from, and what He has done in my life –– so I will never forget His amazing mercy and grace.

Trusting God With Unanswered Prayer

by Tabitha Rudge Smith

Is there a situation in your life that you have been praying about and feel God is not answering? All of us have felt this way one time or another. There have been many in the Bible who have felt this way too. John chapter 11 (concerning Lazarus, Mary, and Martha) deals with this issue and has much to say regarding God’s timing and answers to our requests. This chapter encouraged me in the middle of a trial my husband and I were facing.

My husband and I had been praying and crying out to God to have another child. After one year of trying, I found out that I had a tumor in my stomach the size of a seven month fetus and they thought it was cancerous. After a four hour surgery in San Diego, the tumor was removed and, thank the Lord, there was no cancer. The surgery raised my chances for infertility, but I kept praying and trusting God. Four years later I was pregnant and ecstatic. Then at 10 weeks I miscarried.

Here is what the Lord showed me using John, chapter 11. Lazarus is very sick and his family sends word to Jesus telling him, “Lord, the one You love is sick.” Jesus loves Lazarus and loves this family deeply. When Jesus hears these words, He chooses not to go directly to them like they requested. Jesus instead chose not to honor their request and waited a few days to go and see them. By this time Lazarus has passed away.

The family knew if Jesus had been there Lazarus would not have died. When Jesus arrived He found them weeping. Verse 33 says that when Jesus saw their sadness, He was deeply moved in Spirit and troubled and He wept. Jesus was moved by their sorrow. Jesus was moved by my sorrow and every tear I cried for years when I would find out I was not pregnant again. He is moved to tears and deeply troubled by your sorrows too: a failing marriage, the job you desperately need, an unsaved loved one, or your sick child. He is weeping for you too because He loves you as much as He loved Lazarus.

So why, if He wept, did He wait? Verse 45 of John, chapter 11, gives the answer. It says, “Many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, saw what Jesus had done (raised Lazarus back to life), and put their faith in Him.” Jesus knew if He waited the faith of many would grow stronger and others would put their faith in Him. I realized at this point that I had to surrender everything to God and I prayed, “Lord whatever Your will –– to have more children or not –– I pray you are glorified.”

You may feel like Martha and wonder, “Lord, if you had been here my brother would not have died.” But if you know He loves you as much as He loved this family, you have to allow your faith to be strengthened and know you are serving a God who answers prayers according to His perfect timing so that He may be glorified and His purpose accomplished.

We do not serve a God who does not care, but One who weeps with us and will give us strength to wait for His timing and answer. Hold onto your faith and He will strengthen you. 2 Corinthians 4:16, 17 states, “Therefore we do not lose heart. … For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” One day Our God will come in all His majesty and He promises to wipe away every tear and there will be no more mourning or crying or death. This is the God we serve and to whom we pour out our hearts.

Even now that memory is painful but the Lord is our Refuge. He will be glorified in our lives and the trials we go through. We just have to let Him do the work He needs to do and cling to Him with all our might, while keeping a thankful heart in the midst of the trial.

The Most Priceless Gift

God had us wait six years to answer our prayer, but, even though we waited for Him to answer, we never had to wait for Him. He was with us the whole time holding my hand during surgery, collecting my tears in a bottle when I found out the baby’s heart in my belly stopped beating. He never left me. I thank Him for strengthening my husband’s, children’s, and my faith through those situations. Without those trials, the family we are and our faith in Him would not be what it is today.

And because God’s ways and timing are better than ours, He gave my family the most priceless gift at the most perfect time. He also gave me the best birthday gift ever. I found out I was pregnant with Reghan Mae on my birthday.

While writing this article I came across a note, which along with roses, was delivered anonymously the day after I was informed the ten-week-old baby in my womb had died. I cried. I later discovered this note and flowers were from my husband Clayton:

To Mom: I wish I could have met you, but I’m told that I have to wait. I know it’s worth it; I love you.

To my sisters: The names you came up with seemed fine to me, but my Father in Heaven has given me a great one. I won’t tell you what it is until you come; now it is you who will have to wait.

To my brother: I know you would have taught me many things and you would have worked hard to keep me safe. You may be worried about me even now, but if you knew the size of the angels in Heaven, you wouldn’t worry any longer. And now, when we finally meet, it is I who will be teaching you since the school I’m going to is much better than yours.

I’ll see you when you’re finished.

Yours