Stories from the trenches - evangelists during World War One
As people across the world join together to mark the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War One, Church Army too is remembering its evangelists and volunteers who in 1914 stepped up to the challenge of sharing the gospel with those facing great adversity in the trenches and on the home front.
Whether through recreation huts and tents, hostels and rest homes, mobile canteens and hospital visiting, thousands of men and women found hope in their darkest hour thanks to Church Army’s work.
Here a young evangelist describes his work on the western front:
I am a speck of black in a huge sea of khaki. I have two soldiers to help me. I sleep on the floor. The mud is awful; I very soon had to invest in rubber trench boots to the thighs. I have to wear continually a satchel containing two gas helmets; you see the gas rolling along in a distant cloud when it’s coming.
I have a kitten I found, with blood on its body and one eye shut amongst the ruins; it’s growing into a big cat, shares my rations, sleeps beside me and helps me with the rats which were bigger than itself at first… the men make a great fuss of it.
I’m proud of Church Army at the front. It makes one feel proud when one hears a soldier who has come in say, ‘Thank God! Another Church Army Hut’…
And judging by the men I have been amongst, there’s a bit of real religion and recognition of God at the bottom of them all. When the crisis comes, the soul does turn to its Maker.
To read more stories from Church Army’s work during World War One and to find out more about their Open to All appeal, please visit www.churcharmy.org.uk/ww1