Small Group Tools
Contemporary Comments 2017
Texts: Luke 11:37–54; 12:4–21, 35–53; Amos 6:1; Luke 8:4–15; 22:24–27
He was on a mission that went awry. Michael Guarnaccio came ashore to the beaches of France to help launch Operation Overlord to help break the Nazi grip on Europe. It was the largest amphibious invasion in history and the casualties were high. Over 120,000 allied soldiers lost their lives on D-Day. Guarnaccio was almost one of them.
Breaking through the Atlantic Wall created by Germany, the invasion fleet drew from eight different navies. After massive air attacks and naval bombardments, the amphibious landings began in the early morning hours on five beaches. The enemy was ready and the response was brutal.
Many describe disembarking from the small landing crafts as “walking into the jaws of death.” Gunfire mowed down wave after wave of soldiers. Dead bodies began to pile up on the sandy shores. In an interview last week, Guarnaccio remembers, “Everybody was dead in the water, let’s put it this way,” he paused. “And my best friends.”1
Somehow Michael made it through and advanced on a German unit. When they saw him they shot at him. The only cover the 20-year-old infantryman could find was a dead cow. Little did he realize it was booby-trapped with explosives. When the cow was detonated, it blew up and left Guarnaccio unconscious and full of shrapnel. He explains, “When I opened my eyes, the first thing I did was to look and see if I had all my parts.”
Even though Michael had injuries that nearly killed him, he never received the Bronze star for his heroic service on that day so long ago. But just last week, after 71 years, his part in a mission that nearly cost him his life was acknowledged. In fact, he received eight service medals for his valor.
Our Sabbath school lesson this new quarter is titled, "Biblical Missionaries." And this week’s lesson is called, “The Missionary Nature of God.” You’ll note that the word “mission” is woven into both these descriptors. Missionaries are on a mission, which is described as Christ’s great commission, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…” (Matthew 28:18 NKJV).
Our mission is not to attack human enemy forces. The service we are called to perform is to carry the good news of salvation to the entire world. It is a mission of love and compassion directed by a God who gave up all of heaven to save our doomed planet. It is within the nature of the Lord to seek and save lost people.
Michael Guarnaccio stepped into the jaws of death and wasn’t recognized for his service for 71 years. Someday our missionary service for God will be acknowledged. Heaven has not forgotten. An unfading crown of gold will forever memorialize our part in the great controversy, a war of cosmic proportions.
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