Elmer Bendiner was a WW2 B-17 navigator. In the thick of war against the Nazi’s, one of the most incredible stories unfolded. Bendiner explains: “Our B-17 (THE TONDELAYO) was barraged by flak from Nazi antiaircraft guns. That was not unusual, but on this particular occasion, our gas tanks were hit. Later, as I reflected on the miracle of a twenty-millimeter shell piercing the fuel tank without touching off an explosion, our pilot, Bohn Fawkes, told me it was not quite that simple. On the morning following the raid, Bohn had gone down to ask our crew chief for that shell as a souvenir of unbelievable luck. The crew chief told Bohn that not just one shell but eleven had been found in the gas tanks–eleven unexploded shells where only one was sufficient to blast us out of the sky. It was as if the sea had been parted for us. Even after thirty-five years, so awesome an event leaves me shaken, especially after I heard the rest of the story from Bohn.
“He was told that the shells had been sent to the armorers to be defused. The armorers told him that Intelligence had picked them up. They could not say why at the time, but Bohn eventually sought out the answer. Apparently when the armorers opened each of those shells, they found no explosive charge. They were clean as a whistle and just as harmless. Empty? Not all of them. One contained a carefully rolled piece of paper. On it was a scrawl in Czech. The Intelligence people scoured our base for a man who could read Czech. Eventually, they found one to decipher the note. It set us marveling. Translated, the note read: ‘This is all we can do for you now’” (Bendiner, Elmer. The Fall of Fortresses).
Likely in some unknown, rundown, horrendous living conditions sat a few Nazi slaves. With German soldiers watching over them, they were forced to produce ammunition for the Nazis. Oppressed and unable to truly fight back, all they could see to do was to leave out the charges in a few shells in hopes of helping the Americans. This clearly seemed insignificant to these unnamed heroes, but it saved lives.
Today we too are at war. Day after day we fight temptation and fend off attacks from Satan’s arrows (Ephesians 6:16). In this spiritual battle, sometimes even what seems like the smallest of actions can have monumental effects. A simple letter could literally change someone’s life. A warm meal could give someone the strength to get through the day. A word of encouragement could pull someone away from a spiritual collapse. Lending someone your shoulder to cry on could form an eternally significant bond.
1 Corinthians 15:58 says, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.” No matter how small the action may seem, we truly never know how much it might help someone. Even when seems insignificant, our work for the Lord is not in vain. Let’s take the words of Galatians 6:10 to heart and keep helping each other: “Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.”