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D-Day: preparing the way

Like the minesweepers in Normandy, we’re all preparing the way for those who will follow

At 18 years old, Edward Lincoln Balshaw, the tallest man on his ship, was lowered into the water to test the depth before landing. It was Normandy, 7 June 1944. The day after D-Day.

What my grandad didn’t know was that his older brother, Ron, had been on the MMS28 in the preceding days, sweeping through those very same waters to check for Nazi minefields. Having had little to no contact during the war, the brothers couldn’t have known each other’s whereabouts, but as happenstance would have it my grandad’s older brother was looking out for him and preparing the way.

I will never fully understand the fear that my grandad must have experienced 75 years ago as he arrived in Normandy, or the courage it took to press on towards the beaches under heavy fire from German gun emplacements. My grandad never readily talked about that day, even when we went to France for the 60th D-Day celebrations before his death. Despite the allies’ victory, the pain was too great, the loss was too high, and the horrors were never forgotten.

As I have reflected on the 75th anniversary of D-Day this week, I have been reminded of just how thankful I should be to the men and women who have risked their lives in conflict for the sake of their country. And, as Christians, we are also grateful to all the men and women who have taken tremendous risks for the sake of the gospel.

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William Wilberforce. Amy Wilson Carmichael. Charles Spurgeon. William and Catherine Booth. William Temple. Hudson Taylor. William Carey. Elizabeth Fry. Charles Wesley. Gladys Aylward.

These are just a handful of the men and women who obediently followed the call to serve God and share the gospel wherever He took them, and there are thousands more just like them. If you haven’t heard of some of them then take a moment to look them up, learn more about what they did, and thank God for the sacrifices they made.

Each one of these men and women was just like my great-uncle Ron. Little did they know it at the time, but they were preparing the way for those who came after them; and generation after generation of God’s people have been blessed by their legacies. 

Through their sacrifice and obedience, God opened up doors in ministries around the world, and many of the hymns, theological understanding, and religious freedoms that we enjoy today are as a direct result of their service to God. 

My great-uncle Ron was recently awarded the Legion D’Honneur by the French government, and my family are incredibly proud of him. As the church, we also have every right to be proud of the service our brothers and sisters have made in pursuit of making Jesus known.

But it doesn’t end with them.

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:58

Each and every one of us will face situations where we are challenged to press on for the sake of the gospel in the face of adversity. Just as my great-uncle Ron had no idea that he was sweeping the English Channel to protect my grandad, we may never know the future impact of what God calls us to do in our lives. What may seem futile or make no sense to us now, could be precisely what God uses to later prepare the way for our brothers and sisters in Christ.

The question is, in the midst of political uncertainty, cultural change and ongoing opposition to the gospel, will we stay the course and press on? Will we be faithful and obedient to God today, preparing the way for others to do even greater things for God’s kingdom tomorrow?

About the author

Eve is a military kid and Durham Theology graduate, who spent a year studying graphic design before joining the Evangelical Alliance in 2017. She is passionate about creativity, seeing God's kingdom come, and anything that involves cheese and/or gin. Nomadic at heart, Eve lives in the architectural wonderland of Cambridge and commutes into London to work alongside the dream team at 176. She is insistent that ‘forward planning’ is the sixth official love language and, as such, runs the behind-the-scenes of greatcommission.co.uk, ensuring the UK church is equipped to share Jesus wherever we are.

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