Edward stopped dead in his tracks. Up and down the streets the newsboys were calling out the evening paper’s glaring headlines:
“United States Enters the Great War!”
“Country’s Call to Arms!”
For two and a half years countries in Europe had been fighting, and Edward had guessed that the day would come when his own nation would join in the struggle. April, 1917, it came, and it made his heart beat quickly.
The young Quaker went his way, thinking seriously. What would he do? He believed that no good could ever come of killing his enemies. He hated the very thought of using a gun or a bayonet. He thought, too, about the times he and his friends had talked it over together. They did not agree with him. If their country called, they would be patriotic and fight.
“The only way to be sure we are safe is to get rid of the enemy,” they argued.
“I think you are right,” replied Edward. “We need to get rid of our enemies. But killing them isn’t the way to get rid of them. That’s not real victory. When you are so kind and friendly that your enemies begin to love you instead of hating you—that’s real victory. Being friendly is the best way to get rid of any enemy.”
“Sounds very nice,” his friends said, “but just wait until you find yourself at the wrong end of a rifle. Sometimes a fellow must kill or be killed.”
Edward had always tried to do what he believed was right. It wasn’t easy, even in time of peace. Now war had been declared. The country was calling her boys to fight the enemy. Edward thought of his friends who would be receiving their uniforms and sailing for the battlefields of France. They weren’t afraid to go where there was danger. What would they think of him if he stayed home! A shirker! A coward! That’s what they would say.
Edward knew then how a fellow feels when he meets a crisis in his life. Being a Christian meant a decision either for Christ or for himself. Suddenly Edward knew.
“My friends are ready to face death because they think that is the way to conquer the enemy. If I want to conquer the enemy my way I must be ready to face death too. I will serve with friendliness and not with force. I will save life instead of destroying it. I’ll find some place where I can serve as a Christian without joining the military even though it may be a very dangerous place.”
After Edward had decided what he wanted to do he acted immediately. He had a friend who knew what was happening in many parts of the world. Surely he would know of a place where people were hungry or lonely and needed help. Over the telephone Edward explained what he wanted and the voice of his friend answered:
“Go to northwest Persia. For two years armies have been fighting across the plains, ruining their crops, and leaving thousands of people homeless. Other Americans have already gone to Persia to take food to the starving people. You could go, too, and work for American Relief.”
“That sounds like the place for me.”
“But Persia isn’t a very safe place to be just now. Russians and Turks and Armenians are all trying to get control of the country. Up in the highlands gangs of thieves are running wild. Besides that, smallpox and typhoid are killing hundreds in the cities,” Edward’s friend warned.
“I don’t want an easy job. The boys in the army are ready to go to dangerous places. Jesus went to a dangerous place and ended up dying on the cross. I am ready to give my life for Jesus. I want to go where I can save someone’s life, physically and spiritually,” replied Edward.
Within a month Edward was on his way to Persia. When he arrived at Urumiah, a Persian city close to the Turkish border, he found everything to be true that his friend had said. The dingy clay-built houses and dusty courtyards of Urumiah were filled with people without homes. Filth and flies were everywhere. People were continually quarreling in the narrow, evil-smelling streets and alleyways.
“Yes,” thought Edward, “Persia is the place for me.”
Other American relief workers were already busy helping the poor people of Urumiah and the peasants in the near-by villages. Edward went to work at once where help was needed most. First he gave food and clothing to the children whose parents were killed when the soldiers came marching through.
His next job was to help the women whose homes were destroyed during the war. Soon hundreds of homeless women were once again busy spinning wool and weaving cloth.
Next Edward and his gang of workers cleaned every filthy street and alley, every dusty courtyard packed with refugees. Their work seemed endless.
Meanwhile trouble in the city was growing. The Armenian army now had control of Urumiah. Outside the city the Muslims were gathering their armies, and a large Turkish army was on its way to help the Muslims. The Armenians were thrown into a panic and prepared to escape to the south before the Turks arrived.
News of the coming Turks reached Edward who was stationed with several other Americans at a village two miles from the city. The road that passed their house was the very road on which the Turks would be coming. Should they leave the village with the others who were fleeing? They talked it over and decided to stay.
Later that morning the Turkish army came toward the village. Edward watched the red and white flags come closer and closer. Then, to his horror, he saw that the army was being led by the Kurds, cruel tribesmen from the hill country. What this might mean, he dared not think. But the long line of armed men reached the building and began to file past without stopping.
Suddenly shots rang out from the far side of the compound and through a small back gate came a handful of stragglers from the main army. A stampede broke out, with shouting and firing on all sides. Edward rushed indoors to join the other Americans and found only the women with their children and the trembling native servants. The only man with them was an invalid and everyone in the house looked to Edward for help. They all knelt down to pray for protection.
Just then a violent battering was heard at the outer door. As he went to open it, its panels bulged under the heavy blow of rifle butts. Slipping back the bolt, he flung open the door, crying:
“Bu yurun!” (Come in!)
Three muzzles pointed at him. Three turbaned Kurds, greed and cruelty written on their dark faces, shouted threateningly at them in Turkish:
“Pool! Pool!” (Money! Money!)
“Come,” said Edward, and guiding them quickly through the room where his friends were sitting, he led them into the office.
“Look,” he said, opening cupboards and drawers for them to ransack.
Then he pointed to the safe that contained relief money. When he went to open it he found it was locked! The man who had the key was gone from the compound.
“The key! Give up the key!” demanded one of the raiders, covering him with a rifle.
Steadily Edward met his eye along the length of the glinting barrel.
“I do not have it. Neither do I know where it is.”
Something in his face satisfied the Kurd, and his gun lowered.
“Look,” suggested Edward, taking the arm of the raider and pointing to the lock of the safe. “Shoot into it. The lock will spring.”
He did. A deafening noise echoed from the courtyard but the lock remained fast. The angels had kept it from opening. Angrily the three soldiers turned on him. One crashed the butt of his rifle across his shoulder, while another swung a muzzle within six inches of his head.
“You have the key! Give it up, or I will shoot!” shouted the leader.
“In the name of Jesus, I swear that I do not have it,” said Edward again. “I only wish I could give it to you.”
At the name of Jesus, the man hesitated. Then sullenly they drew back, realizing he spoke the truth. The power of Jesus had gained the victory over the power of the evil spirits in the soldiers.
The Kurds helped themselves to a few pieces of clothing but took little of the silver. Finding no other booty they demanded Edward’s shoes. He took them off. In a few moments they left; the raid was over! The ruthless Kurds were leaving, almost like gentlemen.
“The angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear Him, and delivereth them.” Psalm 34:7
Prayer gained the real victory for Edward and his friends and it enabled them to be calm and to show kindness and love to their enemies. This victory was better than any use of weapons and force could have gained them. Edward showed more courage than his friends who joined the army carrying weapons. He faced the enemy with no weapon in his hand—only the name of Jesus; the love of Christ, which was the real victory.
“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.” 1 John 4:18
Edward had perfect trust in the Love of Christ to gain the victory in his behalf.