by Jerry Wofford
When I first saw the book, Triumph Amidst Bloodshed: Civil War Soldiers’ Spiritual Victories, by Craig L. Claybrook and John Reed it caught my attention because of my interest in history and especially in the Civil War era. Once I began to delve into the first hand life and death stories told in its pages, I quickly realized that the message the Christian Commission ministers brought to wounded and dying soldiers was the same biblical truth that has so profoundly shaped my own life. The simple gospel that brought salvation and peace to these soldiers is the same word of grace and faith that I reached out to when at the age of fourteen I opened by heart to accept Christ’s sacrifice and receive Him as Savior.
The surrender and faith that was central to the stories of the Christian Commission ministers as told in Triumph Amidst Bloodshed have also been the core of the trust that brought the restoration of my own spiritual life. These minister’s words of caring and comfort came from a deep understanding of Scripture. I have found these biblical truths to be crucial for my life as well. During my first year of college, I heard someone say, “If you want to intellectually honest, you must set aside all the things you learned growing up and reason things out for yourself.” I certainly did not want to base my beliefs on bias and caprice, so I took this statement very seriously. I decided to major in philosophy and minor in psychology and religion. But, the more I read apologetics, comparative religion and philosophy books, the more confused I became and the more I was gripped by turmoil and despondency. Finding no help from philosophy in answering life’s fundamental questions, I chose to enter graduate school in psychology. During my studies for a Ph.D., I had neither time nor desire to pursue spiritual issues. I focused full attention on my academic studies. After obtaining a Ph.D. in industrial psychology, I began work for the Mead Corporation in their management development department.
A year after graduation, my wife and I had our second child. Feeling the responsibility of parenting two beautiful little girls, I realized that I must settle my questions about my faith in God. Walking through a green city park on a cool Spring day, I began to meditate on my questions about creation, the fate of people of other religions, the validity of Scripture, and other questions that had haunted me for so many years. It occurred to me that I had not found answers to my questions because I had taken the wrong path. I had thought that I was seeking the light at the end of the tunnel when, in fact, I had been in a cave going deeper and deeper into darkness. These were not philosophical, scientific or psychological issues. They were spiritual issues – questions of faith. I realized that I needed to accept the validity of Scripture as the true revelation of God and to seek the answers to my questions in its pages. I bowed my head and prayerfully surrendered my heart and mind to acceptance of the truth of the Bible. As I finished this short prayer, God’s warmth and love swept across my body. The Christian Commission ministers of Triumph Amidst Bloodshed displayed this confidence that the Bible is the truth from God.
Tears often filled my eyes as I read stories in Triumph Amidst Bloodshed that reveal how God’s acts of grace brought comfort, peace, and redemption in the midst of great suffering. I can identify fully with sense of the presence of His loving grace even though I have not experience this level of suffering.
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