Daniel Poling’s son came to his father’s study before leaving for the service, during the time of war, to ask a very difficult thing.  “Dad” he said, “I don’t want you to pray for my return, that wouldn’t be fair.  Many will not return and to ask God for special family favors just wouldn’t be fair.  Pray, Dad, that I shall do my duty and something more, pray that I shall never be a coward.  Pray that I shall have strength, courage, understanding of men, and especially that I shall be patient.  O Dad, just pray that I shall be adequate.”

I believe that his prayer was answered in this way:

On February 3, 1943, the Army transport ship “Dorchester” was torpedoed by a German U-boat while crossing the icy North Atlantic in a convoy.  Of the 902 soldiers, merchant seamen and civilian workers aboard, only  230 were rescued.  As the “Dorchester” slid beneath the waves, four chaplains calmed frightened men and led as many as they could to safety.  When they ran out of life jackets, they gave away their own.  Rabbi Goode did not call out for a Jew; Father Washington did not call out for a Catholic; nor did Fox or Poling call out for a Protestant.  They simply gave their life jackets to the next man in line.

Those swimming in the water and floating in rafts never forgot their last glimpse of the chaplains:  all four – Methodist minister, Jewish rabbi, Reformed Church in America minister and Roman Catholic priest – were linked arm in arm, praying and singing hymns as they went down with the ship.  In the face of tragedy, they became an enduring example of faith, courage, selflessness and sacrificial love.  In 1988, Congress designated February 3 as “Four Chaplains Day.”

Wouldn’t it be wonderful, if all of us were so committed to Christ, that no matter who we are or what we are, we would reach out to help those in need, even if it meant our own life?  That would be like the story Jesus told about the Good Samaritan who met the needs of a total stranger, a Jew.  What a day it would be, when we could forget all our labels that divide us and together seek for the good of those around us.   Isn’t that what Jesus prayed for, that His followers would be ONE so they could WIN the world to Jesus?  (Read John 17: 20-26)

One Response to “FOUR CHAPLAINS”

  1. Thank you so much Max for this devotional. Yes , It will Be perfect one day ! We will all be one in the family of God ! All who have accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior will be with Him ! No difference in race , denominations ,The country one is from, rich or poor .

    Love and Prayers, Joann

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