by Tad Lindley
Last Saturday, November 11, was Veteran’s Day. In honor of those men and women who have sacrificed even their lives for the freedom of others, I offer this powerful testimony of God’s power from the life of Vietnam veteran. One of many who stood against the rampant spread of Communism across the planet. The following true story was relayed to me by Reverend Scott Graham as told to him by the pastor in the story. You can listen to the message multiple places on the internet by searching Scott Graham Victory Has a Song. This is only the beginning of the message here. I have run it almost every Veterans’ Day for a number of years, because of its power.
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…Where is God my maker who giveth songs in the night? (Job 35:10)
Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance. Selah. (Psalm 32:7)
The conversation between the two men started with an exchange of names and hometowns. Then the question of occupation arose. The pastor said, “I am a United Pentecostal Church pastor.”
The man got a faraway look in his eyes and said, “You know, it’s been a long time.”
The pastor looked at him, “Did you used to attend a United Pentecostal Church?”
“No. No I didn’t, I don’t guess I’ve ever been in a United Pentecostal Church in my life.”
“Well do you have family that attends one,” the preacher asked.
“No. No, I don’t, our family wasn’t a church going family, in fact besides weddings and funerals, maybe Easter here and there, I’ve probably only been in church two or three times in my life”.
“Did you have a friend? What did you mean when you said, ‘It’s been a long time’?”
The fellow looked at him and said, “Preacher, I’ve got a unique story, and it would probably take me a little while to tell it. Preacher, I’ve got something in my background that you’ve probably never met somebody who’s been quite where I’ve been.
“I was a POW in North Vietnam. I was a pilot. My plane was shot down. I was incarcerated there for quite some season of time. In fact I spent a season in the Hanoi Hilton. Pastor, I went through things that are horrid to even think about. I still wake up at night with nightmares of what went on there.
“The history revisionists and the propagandists can tell you what they want to, but I was there. I was shocked with electrical cords and I had limbs dislocated and they broke bones in my body, and I was beaten in horrible and horrific ways. I was kept in a little cage that I couldn’t even stand up in where I was all hunched over and it caused excruciating pain.
“They fed me little bowls of rancid soup that was just enough to keep me alive, but never enough to conquer my hunger. The only companions I had were the rats that came through my cell if I could stay awake long enough to keep them from chewing on me. It was all in all a horrible experience, and one that I would not wish upon my worst enemy.
“But preacher, here’s the thing. Just down the hall from me, in his own little cage, there was a United Pentecostal Church young man.”
The preacher (thinking perhaps he knew the young man) spoke, “My goodness, what was his name?”
The man said, “Well, I don’t know his name, in fact in that particular camp, we tried not to learn each other’s names, because we were under such duress that we were fearful that we would give out information about one of our companions that would be damaging to him, and so I never did know his name.”
The preacher said, “Well would you know him if you saw him?”
The former POW said, “Naw, I don’t guess I ever saw him. In that place we were kept isolated; we never saw each other. He was down the way a little bit, and I never did see him.”
Then the pastor asked, “Well if you don’t know his name, and you don’t know what he looked like, how could you possibly know anything about his religious background?”
And he said, “Preacher, it’s like this, there was something very unique about that man, because every night when the sun went down, when it got dark out, and the guards got far enough away that he thought maybe they wouldn’t hear him, no matter how bad they had beaten him, no matter how lonely he felt, no matter how much he was convinced there was no way out, no matter how much he thought he’d never see home again, it was the most amazing thing, Preacher, every night when it got dark, you would hear that man start to sing.
“Preacher, I still remember the song that he sang. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard it, it’s called Victory in Jesus. Did you ever hear that one?”
“Hear it,” the preacher said, “we still sing that one.”
A tear began to roll down the soldier’s face.
“Preacher, let me tell you something, I don’t know his name, but I know what everybody in that prison called him. Everybody that ever heard him one time only had one name for him, everybody there called him ‘Victory’.”
At that point he turned and pointed to the pastor and he said, “Preacher, I don’t know what you preach, I don’t know what you believe, or what your church is like, but I’ll tell you what I know: I know Victory had a God, because Victory would not stop singing. Victory had a God, because no matter how dark it got, Victory always had a song!”
In the darkest seasons of our lives God can put his pen on our heart and give us songs in the nighttime! Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance. Selah. (Psalm 32:7)
Tad Lindley is a minister at the United Pentecostal Church in Bethel, Alaska.