It was the afternoon of May 30th 1940 and John McCoy,
a young soldier from Newtownbutler in County Fermanagh,
Northern Ireland, stood with his friend Sam Gibson on a
hillside overlooking the burning town of Dunkirk in Northern
France. World War II was just nine months old and already
the Nazi war machine had driven allied troops to the coast.
On the beaches beneath him John could see thousands of
his comrades massing to await evacuation from France.
Overhead, the drone of aircraft engines provided a constant
reminder of the danger from Luftwaffe bombers.
John had joined the Royal Artillery in October 1939 and
soon after had been posted to France as an army driver.
Subsequent months had been around Dunkirk where
his regiment was charged with defending a canal. Now
British and other defenders of France were under severe
pressure from the Germans. In previous days John had been
near death on more than one occasion and had witnessed other
young men being sent to Eternity without a moments notice. As
he surveyed a scene of mayhem and carnage, John thought of the
Great Tribulation spoken of in the Bible and his mind went back to
his childhood days during which he attended the Gospel Hall at Clones,
County Monaghan and Drumlone, County Fermanagh with his godly
parents. It was there that he learned he was a sinner and in need of
God's salvation if he wished to be in Heaven at the end of his love life.
Many years had passed and although often he would have liked to be
saved. John put the matter off.
Although in real physical danger. John's greatest concern was not
now for his life but for his soul, for he knew that if he died without
being saved he would be in Hell and eventually the Lake of Fire
eternally. (Revelation 20v15). Staring death in the face, John
McCoy knew without doubt that he was not ready to die. Hoping
to escape from the nightmare, he attempted to board a British
destroyer leaving Dunkirk harbour, but was denied
access because he could not swim. Disappointed and
now bearing God's voice above the sound of battle,
John retreated to a trench alone. Unknown to
him, God was protecting him for shortly afterwards
that destroyer took a direct hit from the enemy fire and
sank near the coast.
What must I do to be saved?
Alone in the trench the lost sinner, pulled out his New Testament
and began to read the Gospel of John and the Acts of the Apostles.
Coming to Acts chapter 16 he read of the jailer at Philippi who was, as
a trembling soul near death asked, "What must I do to be saved?"
This was the very question John was asking of God. Paul and Silas
provided the answer in Acts 16v31, "Believe on the Lord Jesus
Christ, and thou shalt be saved " As he thought about the Lord
Jesus who died on the cross at Calvary for sinners, John simply
and sincerely said, Lord I believe that Jesus died for me." In that
moment he had trusted Christ as his personal Saviour and was
assured from God's Word that his soul was saved. John McCoy was
ready to die if he had to. For the first time in his life he bowed his
head and thanked God for sending His Son to die for him. He then
prayed for physical deliverance from the horror all around him.
His first prayer answered
Latter that day God moved to answer John's first prayer as a believer.
A German armoured division had been heading for Dunkirk but bypassed
the town and went on to Calais giving allied troops the opportunity to
escape. Soon word arrived of a small Dutch fishing vessel leaving Dunkirk
that evening. John made his way to the pier at the appointed time and,
along with other British and French personnel, sailed out of France under
cover of a thick mist, which shrouded the area. At first the little boat
stuck on a sand bank but was lifted by the swelling tide and moved across
the Channel. As the mist lifted next morning the evacuees were greeted
by the welcome sight of the white cliffs of Dover. In one day John McCoy
was saved twice at Dunkirk. Many years have passed but still the old soldier
is thanking God for that double deliverance.
What about you?
Most of us are unlikely to face the horrors of war but all must
face the prospect of death. A missionary once said, 'When
the time comes to die, make sure that all you have to do is
die," Are you ready to die? Only those who are born again
are ready and fitted for Heaven for Jesus said "Except a man be
born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God." (John 3v3). God
has provided the way of salvation through His Son. The Bible says,
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten
Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should no perish, but
have everlasting life." (John 3:15). Now is God's time of salvation
(2 Corinthians 6:2). Repent of your sins and accept the Lord Jesus
Christ as your Saviour today.