"But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:" I Peter 3:15
Patriots in the 18th century fought for freedom. At that time, freedom from the tyranny of a king across the ocean was utmost on the soldiers' minds. Many pastors ( like John Gano whose claim to fame was baptizing George Washington) or ministers joined the fight, both from the pulpit and on the field. These men fought for the freedom to preach the Gospel as they saw fit. Their Lord's passion for saving lost souls the captain of their zeal. The war these pastors fought both on and off the field still exists today.
John Leland, Baptist preacher in Virginia during the War of Independence wrote:
"Souls appeared very precious to me, and my heart was drawn out in prayer for their salvation." The Writings of the Late Elder John Leland, L.F. Greene (p.20)
His heart so burdened, he fervently prayed that God might give him success. And God did:
"From November 1779, to July 1780, I baptized one hundred and thiry, the chiefest of whom professed to be the seals of my ministry...The chiefest of my success was in York, where Lord Cornwallis and the British army were made prisoners, in October 1781. Matthew Wood, Robert Stacy and Thomas Cheesman, (all preachers afterwards,) were the children of this revival." (p.21)Even officers fought on both the spiritual front and the war front. Colonel Harwood entered one of John Leland's meetings with the intention of stopping him. However, John Leland stamped the floor and "made no more of me than if I had been a dog." The colonel left without stopping the preaching of the Gospel.
Captain Robert Howard determined to 'lash' John Leland out of York county, because the elder had baptized his wife. The captain lost the battle, and he became "serious, penitent, believing, and was baptized." Afterward he accompanied Elder Leland to meetings.
Those preachers who sought to win the souls of many lost before and during the revolutionary war stood with those soldiers who sought to win freedom. Against threats and persecutions, they spread the good news of the free salvation given by God to all men.
Today we celebrate the faithful service of those in the military. Without their great sacrifice our freedoms would be lost. They deserve our honor, our respect, and our gratefulness.
Let us also not forget the Soldier who took the hill at Calvary. He won the war for our souls by giving His own life. Let us stand along side His soldiers who fight in the spiritual fields of our lives, on their knees and with the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. Let us join them as Captain Howard joined John Leland. Let us listen to them as George Washington listened to John Gano. Let us be willing to suffer as Christ, our great Captain of the Lord's Army and of our salvation, suffered on our behalf.
But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man."For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings."