“In Memory Of Charlie Kline”
March 1, 2016
Note: Today’s message is a powerful testimony concerning God’s Word. It’s a bit longer than most of our messages but we believe it’s worth the read.
Message Summary: As the Lord speaks in Isaiah 55:11 His Word does “not return to Me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”
Listen to this message on your audio player. Note: Due to the nature of today’s message a podcast was not prepared. A video link to this testimony is below.
“As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:10,11).
This last Sunday we had a Gideon presentation in our church. The Gideons are an international organization of men devoted to the distribution of the Scriptures. Our speaker was a quiet-spoken insurance agent named Jay Eshleman, who began his presentation with a moving video testimony of Leroy Cannady. (See link below)
Most all of our American readers have found a Bible tucked into a bed night stand drawer at a hotel. My most treasured Gideon Bible is a New Testament distributed to my uncle during World War 2 with a very inspiring inscription by President Roosevelt. You can read the inscription below to see how far our leading government officials have distanced themselves from freely expressing themselves when upholding the Judeo-Christian foundations of our country.
We had Gideons in each church we served and recall going to Gideon banquets in northern Pennsylvania and New England and during short-term interim pastorates here in southern Pennsylvania. We have heard many wonderful testimonies concerning the power of God’s Word.
But probably our most memorable story was some 20 years ago when we went to a state Gideon banquet in New England and heard John Parkinson, a New York state farmer, share a remarkable first hand testimony regarding the power of God’s Word and the amazing results of a faithful, persistent witness by a man named Charlie Kline. He spoke at our church the following Sunday and I wrote down his message at that time when it was fresh. This message is a little long but it’s a great story that will bless you. I also link to a 14 minute video that is well worth the time to watch. (Link below)
Parkinson had no interest in spiritual things at the time the Bible was given to him but he still carried the little Testament in his pocket. He met a fellow Marine by the name of Charlie Kline who bore witness to Christ and persistently tried to persuade John to become a follower of Christ, but John just as persistently refused.
The war was over by the time John got to Okinawa and upon the completion of his first term of service he returned home to his farm in upstate New York. But he determined that there was nothing to keep him there so he re-enlisted. This time he was traveling through the Mediterranean when he met up with Charlie Kline again who was still witnessing for Christ. And John was still rejecting.
While they were at sea the Korean War broke out and his unit was deployed to Korea and became a part of the famed Inchon landing. They marched inland and just when it appeared the war was nearly ove, the Chinese entered the war and John described the horrendous battles that followed in November 1950.
One night he and Charlie were two of only 6 men left from the original 96 men in his unit and things looked utterly hopeless. Again Charlie witnessed to John but he again refused, angrily shoving Charlie away.
But later that same night in desperation John finally cried out to God. He pulled out his Gideon Testament and “randomly” turned to the 23rd Psalm where he read the phrase, “Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me.” This was remarkable “coincidence” as he looked out on the valley filled with death, since he had no Christian training or Bible knowledge that would prompt him to turn to that famous passage of comfort.
John did make it out and immediately found a chaplain who led him to the Lord. He inquired about Charlie Kline, but several mentioned that they thought he was among the injured and removed on a stretcher. He was assumed dead. John returned to upstate New York and this time the farm looked pretty good! He married and began to farm.
Now, “for the rest of the story”:
He joined the Gideons and began to share his testimony. In 1985 he was at a Gideon’s Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. While being introduced he noticed a commotion in the back of the room. A man stood up and shouted “We finally got ya!” It was none other than Charlie Kline!
What a reunion that was! As it turned out Charlie had gotten separated from the rest of the unit that dark night in 1950 and lost his direction. He walked right into the Chinese camp and had to spend three nights in a culvert in sub-freezing temperatures to avoid detection. He eventually made it out, but of course he had no idea what happened to John. At least not until 35 years later!
Indeed, as the Lord speaks in Isaiah 55:11 His Word does “not return to Me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, through the prophet Isaiah’s words, we are reminded that Your Word does not return empty but accomplishes that which You desire. It is a lamp unto our feet and a light for our path. Your Word is divinely inspired and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness so that we are thoroughly equipped for every good work. We’re grateful for the guidance we receive daily through faithfully reading and applying Scripture to our lives. As we wrestle daily against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, and against spiritual wickedness in high places we look to You as our Captain protecting us and guiding us here below as You lead us toward our future eternal fortress in heaven. Keep us faithful till that final promotion. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.
On the first page of the Gideon New Testament distributed to WW2 servicemen was a message from Franklin D. Roosevelt.
The White House
January 25, 1941
To the Armed Forces:
As Commander-in-Chief I take pleasure in commending the reading of the Bible to all who serve in the armed forces of the United States. Throughout the centuries men of many faiths and diverse origins have found in the Sacred Book words of wisdom, counsel and inspiration. It is a fountain of strength and now, as always, an aid in attaining the highest aspirations of the human soul.
Very sincerely yours,
(Signed) Franklin D. Roosevelt
“Ancient Words” Video Michael W. Smith
“Word of God Speak” Video MercyMe
John Parkinson’s testimony on YouTube (14 minutes) Apparently he was still living in 2011! He does refer to Charlie Kline passing on. I calculate he would have been nearly 90 at this time.
CHOSIN, a Korean War documentary film by Brian Iglesias Video This ends with a short message by John Parkinson. A very moving piece only 2:41 minutes long
Gideon video testimonies. We saw the story of Leroy Cannady
The Gideons have seen more and more restrictions placed on their Scripture distribution. Although not compulsory there are numerous forces who feel that even making Bibles available must be prohibited.
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