[February 4, 2024]

Heartland Community Church


Running into battle…without a rifle

On October 12, 1945, President Harry Truman awarded the Medal of Honor to a most unlikely recipient: Army medic PFC Desmond Doss.

Deeply religious, Doss was a pacifist—he didn’t believe in violence and chose not to bear arms. His beliefs and the job he held when WWII began qualified him for a draft exemption, but he declined it and instead enlisted in the Army Medical Corps as a conscientious objector.

His conscientious objector status and refusal to handle duties on Saturdays (when he observed the sabbath) made him quite distinct from other recruits, and boot camp wasn’t easy for him. He faced threats and harassment. Many recruits threw shoes at him while he prayed, and some tried to have him transferred out of their unit.

But Doss surprised them all with his service with the 307th Infantry, 77th Infantry Division.

In late April 1945, Doss and his battalion were called upon to fight in Okinawa in a month-long campaign that would be one of the last and biggest in the Pacific.

Doss and his battalion’s mission was climbing the treacherous “Hacksaw Ridge” (a 400-foot-high jagged cliff) to reach a plateau. Waiting for them were thousands of heavily armed enemy soldiers.

About a week into the battle, Doss was the only medic available to advance with the rest of the men, who were close to taking the ridge from the enemy. It was his Sabbath, but Doss joined his men anyway, and they were soon faced with heavy fire and massive artillery.

The assault left many dead and injured, and the remaining soldiers of Doss’ battalion were driven back down the slope. But not Doss—he alone remained with the wounded.

Over several hours, Doss treated the injured and, one by one, dragged them to the edge of the cliff and lowered them to safety. After each successful rescue, he reportedly was heard to pray, “Dear God, let me get just one more man.” By nightfall, he had saved 75 soldiers, among them many who had berated him during the early days of his military career.

In October 1945, Doss was brought back to the states, and (after surgery for injuries he’d received in the line of duty) was taken straight to Washington, DC, where President Harry Truman placed the Medal of Honor around his neck.

During his military career, Doss also received the Purple Heart and a Bronze Star, all without harming another human being. And he also won the deep respect and praise of the many who had berated him in boot camp.

Doss passed away in 2006, at the age of 87. He was always proud of his service, saying being a medic was “the most rewarding work there is.”

Adapted by Jen Agena from: Pfc. Desmond Doss: The unlikely hero behind “Hacksaw Ridge”


[Monday, February 5]

Matthew 5:13-16

PFC Desmond Doss’s story (above) is one of a follower of Jesus who chose to assume risk and engage with those around him, while retaining beliefs that made him distinct from them. Do you tend to “go for it” and engage, or do you tend to play it safe—being too cozy with the world or keeping your faith too concealed to help those around you?


[Tuesday, February 6]

2 Corinthians 5:16-17

In what ways has being “in Christ” changed you? Are you willing and able to share this vulnerably with others as God leads you to? If not, what would need to change?


[Wednesday, February 7]

Colossians 3:5-14

This passage mentions many ways of living and relating to others that distinguish us as followers of Jesus. What are the ways you’re currently sensing God’s lead to put off the old self and put on the new, renewed, self, so you can reflect the image of Jesus to those around you?


[Thursday, February 8]

1 Peter 2:11-12, Matthew 6:1-6

Do your actions and the way you live make others “see your good deeds and glorify God”? And is your motive/goal to bring glory to God or to have your good deeds seen by/impress other humans?


[Friday, February 9]

Isaiah 58:6-10, Matthew 28:17-20

In what way(s) do you sense God leading you to spend yourselves in behalf of others? What feels risky about that? How do Jesus’ words in Matthew 28:17-20 reassure you?



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12175 S Strang Line Road, Olathe, KS 66062

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