EMBRACED BY GOD: A Time To Remember
A Tribute to My Father

When I think of what it takes to stand firm in the face of tremendous adversity, my mind goes immediately to our nation’s military. The men and women who protect our country at home and abroad put their lives on the line every day as they position themselves to protect the freedoms that all United States citizens enjoy. It is becoming more and more apparent the sacrifices our service men and women make as they tirelessly serve our country.

My father, Reverend George Wade, as a young preacher’s son from the cotton fields of Alabama, made such a sacrifice. He served this country in the United States Army during World War II. I recall now, when he told the story of how he surrendered his life to Christ and soon after, was called to preach the gospel. Dad said while he was on active duty in Belgium, he served as an ammunitions truck driver. One Saturday, while trekking down a rural, dusty road headed for the front line, his company came under heavy enemy attack and was captured. They were taken as prisoners of war and held hostage in the enemy’s camp. Dad and several of his company comrades managed to escape the prison during the night and during their flight, they were separated. Dad hid out in a potato farmer’s barn until daylight. Unbeknownst to anyone and on guard for his life, he concealed himself underneath a stack of hay in a corner of the barn. He lay there, secretly planning his next move, when he heard someone coming into the barn. As the potential threat moved closer and closer to the lofty stack of hay where Dad hid holding his breath, he knew that this could very well be the last breath he would ever draw. Then the unthinkable happened. He had been discovered! A pitchfork thrust through the stack of hay, barely missing his body. Dad flinched. Slowly and with great caution, the white Belgian farmer peered through the hay. He was just as shocked to see a black United States Army Corporal staring back at him. Stunned, Dad lay perfectly still. Then the miraculous happened. The farmer lifted his pitchfork full of hay and replaced the straw right back on top of my father and quietly left his barn. My dad was able to get out of the farmer’s barn without being discovered further, to reconnect later that morning with his troops. Dad knew his life had been spared for a reason. Knowing he had been given another opportunity, Dad prayed an earnest prayer that morning and surrendered his life to the Lord. When he heard church bells ringing in the distance, Dad remembered that this was no ordinary Sunday morning. It was Easter Sunday morning. Dad had heard the Word of God preached his entire life by his father, a Baptist pastor. But that Resurrection Sunday, he had a new appreciation for Psalm 27:1-4. “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell. Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident. One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple.”

After my father was discharged from the Army, he, my mother and my oldest brother headed north to Michigan. Not long after settling down in Jackson, Dad was called to serve as the pastor of a fledgling church work there. The Lily Missionary Baptist Church, where Dad served as pastor for nearly forty years, and where I served as church pianist and choir director for nearly twenty years, still stands as a landmark in my hometown. Dad is in Heaven now, but his legacy of courage, conviction and commitment lives on.

An excerpt from Babbie's book, Embraced By God

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