Compiled and condensed from the writings and speeches of Ralph D. Winter
Ok now, one of my experiences getting into the war: I was at Cal Tech, already in my second year there. And the Navy and the Army both said, “We need some of these college students to join and especially those with engineering and scientific training. And we will pay their tuition until they graduate and then make them officers.” And this was a pretty good deal, because it wasn’t an option. It was only one of two or three inevitabilities. “You either do that, you go with the Army, or you get drafted. You don’t have any other choice.” Well, you know most students signed up for either the Army or the Navy in their officer program. And so, I got in the Navy.
All of a sudden the whole school was taken over by the Navy. And it was now a military training base. We were studying all the same engineering things and science things. But there was now a new course called “The History of Naval Warfare” and a few other things. And so, we were being prepared for being officers in the U.S. Navy.
Among other things, we were issued new clothes. We couldn’t just wear our own clothes. They shaved our heads. They changed everything. They had a whole new vocabulary. In the Navy they didn’t have walls and floors and ceilings. They had bulkheads. Every word practically, was different. People would say all kinds of crazy things like “Knock it off.” At night I thought to myself when I was first in the Navy, “What do they mean by knock it off?” They mean, “Shush up! Be quiet.” That was just a Navy phrase. But it became so customary that it eventually sounded perfectly fine.
Everything is subordinate to winning the war
The thing I do recall is, the clothes we were issued––the shoes, the pants, the other garments we were given––were absolutely high quality stuff. Now, my family was never really a poor family, but we never bought stuff like that. And the navy took very good care of you. You didn’t have to say, “Now let's see, I think I need to get my teeth cleaned.” [That] was on a schedule. Your whole life was scheduled. The Navy was really basically, a very good operation to belong to. Talk about safety and care and concern.
When somebody joins the Navy and he gets all these nice clothes, got his hat, got his belt, got his shoes. There is always a meal. You never have to lift a finger. You have a place to sleep. All this is worked out, and he says: “My, this is really great. I just love the Navy. The Navy has been so kind to me. I just want to glorify the Navy. The Navy has just taken my life and given me new clothes, and a new life and a new vocabulary” and on and on and on… and he keeps saying this and saying this and saying this. Pretty soon somebody is going to say: “Wait a minute, we didn’t give you these things to [make you] happy. We gave you these things to fight a war and to give your life if necessary."
You see, the Navy didn’t really care about me, they cared about winning the battle. The war was more important than any one person’s life. They were training us to give our lives. In the battle of Midway, there were seventy-five planes that took off after those Japanese ships. They knew they were never coming back, they didn’t have enough gas to get back. They were doing it, not to save their lives, but to give their lives. They were winning a war and everything was subordinate to that.
Up until now, in your church you may have gotten the impression that you get the missionary call and off you go. You lose all your possibilities of being a rich businessman or a great computer programmer because now God is going to waste your life as a missionary. Either that happens, or it doesn’t. Either you’re called as a missionary, or you can just live your life. Try to get the best job possible. Try to marry the right person. Get the right kind of house. Get the right kind of car. Maybe get a boat, and just have a great time! “My this is really great, I just love God. The Lord has been so kind to me. I just want to glorify the Lord. The Lord has just taken my life and given me new beliefs, a new life, new friends, new vocabulary. He is so good, so good, so good, so good, so good, so good…"
And God says, “Wait a minute, I didn’t give you these things to enjoy them merely, or simply to praise me. I gave you these things to fight a war and to give your life if necessary."
I don’t believe there is such a thing as a missionary call. Is there anybody here who has accepted Christ but not accepted his commission? If you have not accepted his commission you have not accepted Christ! You can’t divide between Christ and the work he is doing and the purposes he has.