No one said a word. Planes flew overhead, and the faint sound of artillery explosions could be heard in the distance. The young men stared at one another in silence as their amphibious vehicle approached the shore.
The enemy had claimed a 50-mile stretch of beachhead in Normandy, and D-Day would either be the beginning of the end of the war or the end of a civilization. The aerial attack was critical, but there was only one way the battle of Normandy would end well for the Allies: ground troops.
The stakes were high. Men, women and children were depending on these young men for their very lives. The young men knew they might die the moment the door opened. There would be only one option for victory: They must advance.
The 156,000 men who stormed the beaches that day made history and brought the liberation of Western Europe, leading to the surrender of Germany the following spring. Their advance was our victory.
We are in a war for the souls of mankind, and too many times we retreat. Rather than standing strong and pursuing those whom the enemy has taken captive, we retreat into comfortable buildings of stained glass.
We rely on the shock and awe of our “aerial attacks” of Sunday-morning gatherings, revivals and evangelistic events. Although critical, the war will only be won when the ground troops advance into neighborhoods, schools and community gathering places.
We are losing ground. Baptisms in our South Carolina Baptist churches have been relatively flat since 1972, while the population of the state has increased by 1 million people. South Carolina is projected as the fifth-fastest growing state in the country. Four-hundred of our churches did not baptize anyone this past year. If there was ever a time to advance, it is today. We are surrounded by the lost. Be a disciple who serves them, shares the hope of the gospel, sends missionaries across the street and globe, and ultimately starts new churches to reach them.
You are invited to join the conversation of how we can accelerate efforts of gospel advancement in our state. Six regional gatherings across South Carolina are planned for the fall, and information can be found at www.scbaptist.org/advance.
We cannot stay on the ship any longer. We must advance.