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.