I went to Valley Forge National Park (Pennsylvania) on Saturday, June 11. It amazed me to see the stark log huts that were hastily built to house thousands of General Washington’s troops so they could endure the infamous winter of 1777-78.
The story is fairly well known. Washington retreated to Valley Forge because the British had captured Philadelphia in 1777. The American revolutionaries had already tasted battle, both defeat and success. At this point they needed to retreat, to regroup, and to prepare themselves to fight again. But winter was upon them and they had few supplies and no safe place near Philadelphia for their winter encampment. The story of the harshness of that famous winter is part of American legend. In reality it was not that unusual a winter, just "suffering as usual" as one later put it. Privation was the soldier’s constant lot. Their sacrifice was immense.
As I drove across the fields of the Valley Forge National Park, stopped my car and waked about, I looked at the various buildings that remained. I gazed into the simple huts with their hard bunks for eight to twelve men and "felt" the stark simplicity of it all. I wondered, "How could they do this?" Even more to the point I felt, "Why would they do this?"
What strikes me as more amazing is the continued sacrifice some Christians are making in the modern world for the advance of the gospel into difficult cultures and dying cities. Most historians will pay little or no attention to the sacrifices these Christians make but their sacrifices are being made for the Lrod fo Hosts who sees in secret and who will reward in his own time. Such is the nature of real faith.
Don’t get me wrong. Valley Forge made me appreciate the sacrifice of our American forefathers. But now I appreciate the very real sacrifices of Christian people I know across America, and in India and other difficult places, even more. The kingdom of God bids us all sacrifice things we can legitimately enjoy for the cause of the missio Dei. What sacrifice I make is my choice but God does see and reward, thus no sacrifice can be too great and none will go unnoticed.