A few weeks ago, I told the story of a young Christian man doing his National Service back in the fifties. It had been told to me by a GP who led a Christian group when I was at school. He had been really impressed by the determination of one man in his dormitory who maintained a life of prayer and knelt by the side of his bed each night before lights out.
His daily devotions were showered with an avalanche of army boots, swearing and mockery. However, he refused to give up, and gradually won the respect of the men in the dorm for his consistency and courage.
Last week, at the Confirmation Service, I met a vicar whose son is in a similar position. He has joined the army and is now in India. He is a Christian and shares a dorm with a lot of other men.
The big difference is that people do not mock him for his faith. A lot of the soldiers are interested in what he has to say and he has even led one person to faith. I told his father about the experiences of the young man in National Service. His feeling was that those days were long gone. At least in his son’s experience.
We should not lose sight of the fact that what we used to call “political correctness” has brought many good things in its wake. Being willing to respect those whose views we do not share is a big part of education today. Things have moved on. It does not make everything that we hear right.
But if that means that Christians in the army can pray in peace without a lot of heavy boots raining down on them, then that is something to give thanks for.