by Maurice Hall
Editor’s Note: Jon Gary Williams shared this story with these comments: In the 1970s one of our truly great missionaries, brother Maurice Hall, submitted to a brotherhood paper a note about an incident that happened to him while serving in the Army in the Philippines during WWII. In 1983 I asked if he would be kind enough to relate the incident in more detail. Below is his heart-warming story.
(BNc) — During World War II I arrived in Manila, Philippine Island for duty with the U.S. Army, Armed Forces Western Pacific. I looked unsuccessfully for a group of Christian men with whom to worship. I wrote to the Gospel Advocate and made an announcement of my search. I prayed that God would help me.
One Saturday afternoon, feeling particularly depressed, I left my office to go to the PX barber shop for a hair cut. Three chairs were open. I chose the middle one. In a strong southern accent, the barber said, “How do y’all want your hair cut, suh?”
I replied, “Give me a G.I.” Then I said, “With an accent like that, where is your home?” He said, “Limestone County, Alabama.” I told him the only other person I ever met from Limestone County was Bennie Fudge, a fellow student at Lipscomb College. He said, “Do you know brother Fudge?” I jumped down out of the chair, faced him and said, “Are you a Christian? I’ve been praying to God to help me find some Christians with whom I could worship.”
He replied, “Yes suh, I’m a Christian and I’ve been praying to find other members of the church that I could worship with.” I got back in the chair and he finished cutting my hair as we talked and planned. “Let’s meet out front of this building tomorrow at 10:00 A.M., over there in that grassy area by that tree,” I said.
The next morning, I called the motor pool for a jeep. After a while when the jeep did not come, I called again and said, “Sargent, that jeep for Lt. Hall has not come. Are you having a problem?”
He replied, “No sir, I dispatched a Filipino driver, but since he hasn’t come I’ll come myself.”
A few minutes later he arrived. I directed him to the grassy area, across from the barber shop. Then I said, “Stop there, by that tree. We’ll be here about an hour. We’re going to worship together. We’d be glad to have you join us, but if you don’t want to, then please come back for us in an hour.”
The driver asked, “What kind of worship are you having?” I said, “As far as I know it will be the first time the church of Christ has met in the Philippines since the war.” He seemed surprised and asked, “Are you men members of the church of Christ? I’ve been praying to God to help me find brethren to worship with. I’m a member of the church from Dallas, Texas.”
That day we rejoiced, sang, prayed, studied and communed together, praising God that through his love and mercy he could bring some of his children together in a foreign, desolate land in the middle of war.