A Salvation Story
A Salvation Story For All
Help couldn’t come fast enough
Housing 110,000 captives—more than a quarter of them American—Stalag VII A was the largest prisoner-of-war camp in Germany during World War II. My uncle, Lt. Col. Ray Tyrrell, was one of them.
On June 21, 1944—on his 63rd combat mission from RAF East Wretham in England—Ray and 40 other U.S. Army Air Forces
P-51 fighter pilots escorted a flight of B-17s on a successful raid over Berlin. As he headed home, he spotted a Luftwaffe airfield and attacked.
After destroying two aircraft on the ground, Ray’s P-51 was hit by enemy flak and burst into flames. He bailed out, was captured by German soldiers, and spent the remainder of the war in two POW camps, first in Poland and then in southeast Germany.
In later life, like many wartime prisoners, Ray didn’t talk much about his days as a POW. We never learned what type of physical torture he endured, and we can only imagine how his imprisonment weighed on him emotionally. Despite existing with thousands of other prisoners, Ray lived in isolation. He was totally cut off from his family, friends, military compatriots, and country. He hoped to be saved but wondered if he’d ever taste freedom again.
Ten months after he was captured—on April 29, 1945—Ray was saved. U.S. 14th Armored Division tanks rolled through the double wire fences into the POW camp. The German commander immediately and unconditionally surrendered, and the 240 guards lined up and dropped their weapons.
Scenes of wild rejoicing began. Ray and the other prisoners—representing every nation that had fought the Nazis—were free! Amid thunderous cheers, they rushed to greet their liberators. Tanks and jeeps completely disappeared beneath a mass of jubilant humanity. Later General George S. Patton and an entourage of high-ranking officers joined the celebration.
God sent His Son to liberate mankind
God—Who is perfect, holy, and righteous—created mankind to enjoy a close, loving, personal relationship with Him. The all-powerful, all-knowing, everywhere-present Creator of the universe wants each of us to experience life filled with the wonderful blessings only He can provide. Sounds great, but something is blocking our path to God.
When Adam and Eve rebelled against God in the Garden of Eden and gave their allegiance to Satan, the Lord sentenced mankind to exist apart from His great love. We all begin life cut off from God and need to be saved.
Centuries later, our crafty adversary dangles enticing temptations before us so we won’t turn to God. If the devil is successful, not only will we be isolated from the Lord in this life, but we’ll be separated from Him for eternity. Unfortunately, we can do nothing to change this sad destiny. But God can!
Because God is just, He couldn’t simply ignore our disobedience. The penalty we deserve had to be paid. So the Lord took the initiative to reach out to us. His solution was to sacrifice His Son on the cross in our place. The sinless Son of God paid a debt He didn’t owe because we owed a debt we could never pay!
For many today, sacrifice involves giving up something relatively insignificant. Those of us in the military, though, better understand what sacrifice is all about. We see it in the brave soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines who give up their lives to protect their comrades and to preserve the freedoms our nation stands for.
Jesus tells us He is the only way to the Father. But simply agreeing intellectually that Jesus is God’s Son and that He died to take on our punishment isn’t enough. To be saved, we must place our trust in the Savior. We must turn away from anything that’s a barrier between us and God and step forward in faith that God hears our commitment, welcomes us into His family, and provides all the help we need to become the people He wants us to be.
As he waited to be saved, my uncle’s fate was totally out of his control. Your eternal fate, though, is in your hands. Will you continue in your isolation from God, or will you receive the salvation Jesus purchased for you through His sacrifice on the cross?