by Bill Koeneke (Britain/USA)
Living on the east coast of New Jersey, I often went swimming in the summer. I was 7 or 8 years of age at the time when on one such occasion, I was suddenly caught by the undertow and dragged out to sea. It was perhaps only 10 yards or so, but it seemed a very long way out. Frightened, I became disoriented, attempting to grab onto something–anything–and then I began to lose consciousness. It felt like an oncoming pleasant death. I simply gave in to what seemed inevitable. Suddenly someone grabbed me, pulled me out, and pumped me out—and here I am, yours truly! On this occasion I had eluded death. Since that event I continue to fear being in deep water.
As a young lad in my teens, I became interested in justice, and I was always eager that the good guys would win over the bad guys. Some of my favourite radio and cinema programs involved cops and robbers and cowboys. As I matured, and near the end of my last year of college, I decided I wanted to join the FBI. I travelled to one of their field offices to take a written test. Unfortunately, I was so nervous that, as a result, I failed to pass the test which appeared at first to be fairly easy — I “flunked out” as they say. Fortunately, however, in the years following and together with a bit of hindsight and also in the light of my calling, it has occurred to me I had been, in effect, diverted from this career where I would have had to carry a weapon and perhaps, in the line of duty, would have had to kill someone.
Prior to the closing years of World War II, I joined the U.S. Army Air Force and was trained in Texas as an Airplane and Engine mechanic on their B-29 bomber aircraft. Following completion of the course, I was shipped to an east coast camp where I was asked to volunteer for a secret mission. Not knowing what the mission was all about, and wary of volunteering for the unknown, I declined. Subsequently I learned that it would have involved a transfer to the Pacific island of Tinian where some of the Army’s B-29 aircraft were stationed.
That assignment, in turn, would have involved me as a mechanic, along with others, helping to prepare one such aircraft which eventually was used to drop the first atomic bomb on Japan–with the result of having directly killed, out of a total population of 450,000, around 135,000 in Hiroshima and 64,000 in Nagasaki and let alone those thousands who subsequently died weeks and months later from exposure to the effects of radiation and flash burns. In the light of my calling I have come to realize I was led to opt out of a potential scenario where I would have been directly involved in a mission with devastating consequences.
I was then shipped to the European theater of operations in southern France where there were no B-29s, in order to work on other types of aircraft as a mechanic while involved also in the refuelling unit. Thus I was spared from being assigned to one of the crews flying out of other airfields, for example in England, with B-17 aircraft, the so-called “Flying Fortress” that had as their daily mission the job of bombing, and thus killing, thousands of Germans, and in a number of cases the airmen themselves being shot down.
As a result of these incidents and considering the possibility of similar happenings in the past of which I am unaware, I feel mightily blessed, for with hindsight I have come to realise that, in effect, and unknowingly at the time, I was being super-naturally protected and prepared for a very special future mission. Once discharged from the Air Force in 1946, it was to be another 26 years before I actually realized God’s calling for that future mission.
It has been brought to our attention that God predestined and foreknew those whom He would ultimately call, and that the called-out ones are no longer subject to time and chance. I believe, based on the incidents I related above, that even prior to my actual calling, God was already watching over me, and that He was guiding and directing me in certain incidents.
Considering my own situation in that light, God called me for a far greater mission than anything this world could offer—a mission in which I have been involved for the past 39 years—and Amen to that!