To Battle We Go: The Ultimate Weapon
By: Dr. Steve Kellner
At the main entrance to Fort Dix, New Jersey, the U.S. Army base where I underwent my basic training many years ago, there was (and is) a towering statue of an American soldier. I often saw it as my platoon marched or ran by the gate. The soldier is depicted in full combat gear, rifle at the ready with fixed bayonet, and running into combat. The inscription below the statue reads, “Fort Dix, New Jersey, home of the ultimate weapon: The American fighting man!” The statue was erected in the 1950’s, so the inscription is a little dated. Nowadays, it would include the American fighting woman as well.
The message of the statue and inscription is twofold. First, that the primary, and really the only, purpose of Fort Dix is to train soldiers to fight. At the time I went through there were thousands of trainees on the base, all in various phases of basic and advanced infantry training, night and day, weekdays and weekends, year-round. There was, to my knowledge, no other kind of training going on there, no artillery ranges, no airplanes or helicopters flying overhead, and certainly no ships or submarines! And there was no technology in use to speak of unless you consider a rifle or compass technology.
The second message is that no matter how technologically advanced and awesomely impressive the weaponry of our military is, sooner or later victory in war comes down to “boots on the ground,” the individual infantry soldiers who take and hold ground. After the field of combat is electronically surveilled, bombs dropped, and missiles launched, flesh and blood infantry soldiers must finish the job.
Certainly, we in today’s Salvation Army do many things differently than early day Salvationists. Those pioneers could not have imagined the tools and technology we have available to spread the gospel and meet human need. To cite but one example, one “viral” tweet or YouTube video can potentially reach millions of people with the gospel message, something that would have taken thousands of Salvationists years to do not so long ago.
Once all the tools and technology have laid the groundwork, it still takes individual flesh and blood (or should I say Blood & Fire?) Salvationists to complete the mission, whether that is praying with a seeker at the mercy seat, teaching a Sunday school class, leading worship on Sundays, or serving sandwiches and coffee to a homeless person or disaster victim. In this we are no different than our Army forebears, and they would have no problem recognizing us as one of their own.
We individual Salvationists must be ready to be the boots on the ground of our movement, and that means training night and day, weekdays and weekends, and yearround. Our training doesn’t include shooting a rifle or using a compass, but it does include daily time in the Word and in prayer, the meaningful worship and rich fellowship of a healthy corps congregation, and specific training for the role in which we are serving. Then we can truly become the ultimate weapon in the war against the powers of darkness and the rulers of this world: The Salvationist man or woman!