Those We Never Forget

Besides family or the love of your life, over the years who do you remember most? Many of us may select a teacher; or it may be a pastor, Sunday school teacher or a teacher in elementary, high school or college. It may even be a friend or neighbor. It could be about anyone. Who has made a tremendous influence in your life?

The teacher I remember most was a very ordinary person who was my business professor in college. He was my instructor in at least 15 classes. He was Hayes Johnson, a World War II army veteran. He was captured in the Battle of Bataan in the Philippines. He was part of the Bataan Death March that took place in 1942, during World War II. The death march was 60 miles long and it took nearly a week. Approximately 72,000 Americans and Filipinos started and 54,000 made it. Along the way they were beheaded and throats were cut; they were casually shot, raped and stabbed by bayonets. Falling down was a death warrant. They were refused food and water.

He never discussed what he went through only to say that he was a participant of the Bataan Death March. He exuded with faith and confidence. As young college students his positive attitude affected many in the class. Two of my closest classmates shared the same response. One became president of a Christian college and the other became the college’s business manager.

One of the greatest influences we have is being a parent. However, we can be influential to friends, co-workers or neighbors. Do we represent the Son of God well to others? Do we have a sense of purpose in our lives or do we have no sense of direction? Do we really care what others think about us? How can we have the unconditional love that God tells us to have if we do not care how others see us?

One thing that Scripture has taught me is to be true to my convictions. I believe this is one of the greatest examples we can leave to others. Let’s define conviction as having a personal belief that the truths of the Bible are not to be compromised regardless of the circumstance. In the Book of Daniel there were four teenagers who refused to compromise. They were Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego who refused to obey the commands that were given to them and were given death sentences. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were told to kneel and worship an idol. They refused and were thrown into the fiery furnace, but God saved them. Daniel was commanded to stop praying to his God and he continued to pray. He was thrown into the lion’s den and survived. We learn from Scripture the convictions of Jesus and that of the apostle Paul. They were unwilling to compromise their morals or principles. Scripture is very clear, God blessed those who had strong convictions and refused to compromise.

We are living at a time when our political leaders will compromise at the drop-of-a-hat. They will deceive or do whatever it takes to get elected and re-elected. It seems like the only true conviction most have is to stay in power. How about the average Christians? How strong are our Christian convictions or how easy is it for us to compromise if it will be to our benefit?

I am far from being perfect but I have some strong Christian convictions and I believe it has been a tremendous advantage. I also believe my Christian convictions and unwillingness to compromise has influenced my family to accept and commit their lives to Christ. I urge you to develop strong convictions in what you believe and do not allow yourselves to compromise on principles. This must be part of our walk and it is our walk that people will remember and not just our talk.

What I saw in my business professor were strong convictions, love for life and for his students. What he had was catching. To this day I caught that positive attitude and it changed the direction of my life forever. I hope I may pass it on to others. I believe if you asked those who know me best they would tell you that I am positive, have a God-given faith and strong Christian convictions. Thanks to the Holy Spirit, Scripture and a teacher who really cared and instilled these attributions in his students.

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