Written by Jeff Andrechyn
There is a fascinating new book out called To Kingdom Come, by Robert Mrazek, about the epic saga of survival in the air war over Germany durning the second world war. Prior to the invasion of Normandy we sent B-17’s (Flying Fortress) deep into Germany to bomb their factories and cripple their ability to make war. Daylight precision bombing left these aircraft extremely vulnerable to German fighters and antiaircraft guns. The book covers a period when a B17’s chance of coming home from a mission over Germany was one in three. We lost 200,000 men over Europe during the war, most of them were under 25 years old.
A new friend of mine, John Hard Sr., completed his 35th mission as a pilot one day before his 21st birthday. John survived a mission over Hamburg where his squadron lost 1/3 of the fleet and John limped back to England full of bullet holes and only two of four engines running on his B17. John said that the war made men out of boys.
The problem early on during the war, was that our fighters (P51’s) could not carry enough fuel to escort the bombers to the targets over Germany and back. The German fighters waited like a pack of coyotes for our fighters to turn around for England, then they would attack. One German ace (Major Connie Mayer) shot down four B-17’s in 30 minutes. Each B-17 had ten crewmen on board. Once the bombers got past the enemy fighters the flak started and the airmen said it was just fate from there. If an aircraft was hit, the other crews would watch as the airmen from the wounded ship bailed out and witness the possibility of their parachutes catching on fire, not opening, or the enemy fighters that would machine gun them while they were descending.
Everything changed when we developed drop tanks for our P51’s. Our fighters were able to escort the bombers deep into Germany where we then found Major Connie Mayer and shot him down!
What is needed for every mission deep into enemy territory is support. There are ‘milk runs’ over France (easy missions), but it’s the dangerous missions deep into enemy territory that need coordinated support. It’s the same with our life in the Kingdom.
Paul said in Galatians, “You, my brothers, were called to be free, but do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature, rather, serve one another in love.” The body of Christ is an amazing “Flying Fortress” when it functions like it was designed to fly. It’s a place where the “gates of hell cannot prevail.”
Running support is a noble cause that has been overlooked, under developed, and under appreciated in Christianity today. Instead we have all been trained to look for the next Christian rock star who might lead us to the promised land. I like what the Lord told the people in the book of Joshua: “Moses is dead.” What God was after the whole time was a nation, that’s how to take the land, not alone, but as a nation.
On the mount of transfiguration Peter was so impressed to see Moses and Elijah (the law and the prophets) next to Jesus that he wanted to make three tabernacles, but the Father speaks from heaven saying, “This is my beloved son, hear Him.”
Jesus is the one we are looking to and we all run support for this Kingdom that He brought to earth. We don’t need another rock star christian ~ what we need are 200,000 men and women living in their glory who love and support one another.
The key to making effective runs deep into enemy territory is to lend your support to what you are passionate about, and how you were designed by God. If you are on a mission you are not passionate about, then at the first sign of enemy fighters or flak, you will turn back to England and we will find you licking your wounds in the cantina.
I have something to say to you if you have experienced a tough mission over Germany that went bad and one third of your squadron was shot down and you have been in the cantina drinking far to long. There is a life in you that came out of a Fellowship, a Trinity. This life in you runs deeper than the relational wounds that have isolated you. You were designed to fly and lend support to a squadron.
Come and help us develop drop tanks for fighters who were designed to fly further than they thought possible. We could use your support.