Sermon Illustrations

Arthur and Skinner were high school buddies. They grew up together in Mount Carmel, PA. They joined the army together. They rode the same troopship to the Philippines. That’s where they were separated. Skinner was on Bataan when it fell to the Japanese in 1942. Arthur was captured a month later. Through the grapevine, Arthur learned the whereabouts of his friend. Skinner was near death in a nearby camp. Arthur volunteered for work detail in the hope that his company might pass through the other camp. One day they did. Arthur requested and was given 5 minutes to find and speak to his friend. He knew to go to the sick side of the camp. It was divided into two sections- one for those expected to recover, the other for those given no hope. Those expected to die lived in a barracks called Zero Ward. That’s where Arthur found Skinner. He called his name, and out of the barracks walked the 69 pound shadow of the friend he had once known. Arthur writes: I stood at the wire fence of the Japanese prisoner of war camp on Luzon and watched my childhood buddy, caked in filth and racked with the pain of multiple diseases, totter toward me. He was dead; only his spirit hadn’t left his body. I wanted to look away, but couldn’t. His blue eyes, watery and dulled, locked on me and wouldn’t let go. Skinner was nearly gone. Arthur didn’t know what to do or say. His minutes were nearly up. He began to finger the heavy knot of the handkerchief tied around his neck. In it was his high school class ring. At the risk of punishment, he’d smuggled the ring into camp. Knowing the bad conditions, he had been saving it to barter for medicine or food for himself. But one look at Skinner, and he knew he couldn’t save it any longer. As he told his friend good bye, he slipped the ring through the fence into Skinner’s hand and told him to “wheel and deal” with it. Skinner objected, but Arthur insisted. He turned and left, not knowing if he would ever see his friend alive again.

What kind of love would do something like that? It’s one thing to give a gift to the healthy. But to entrust your treasure to the dying- that’s saying something. This gesture declares: “Don’t despair. Don’t give up. I believe in you.” It’s no wonder Paul included this phrase in (1 Cor 13:7 KJV) Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. "Believes all things"

Many people out there need someone to come and given them a ring of belief.

Arthur did. What happened? Skinner took the ring and buried it in the barracks floor. The next day he took the biggest risk of his life. He approached the kindest of the guards and passed him the ring through the fence. “Is it valuable?” the guard asked. Skinner assured him that it was. The soldier smiled and slipped the ring into a pocket and left. A couple of days later he walked past Skinner and let a packet drop at his feet. Medicine tables. A day later he returned with limes to combat scurvy. Then came a new pair of pants and some canned beef. Within 3 weeks Skinner was on his feet. Within 3 months he was taken to the healthy side of the camp. In time he was able to work. All because of a ring. All because someone believed in him.

From Max Lucado’s Book "A Love Worth Giving"