Ever heard the expression “there are no atheists in foxholes”?
Sources are uncertain as to the origin of the famous saying though most pin it to the WWII Battle of Bataan in 1942. Although the adage occasionally means that all soldiers in combat are “converted” under fire, it is most often used to express the belief of the speaker that all people seek a divine power when they are facing an extreme threat. The quote is also referenced when discussing the opposite effect — that warfare causes some soldiers to question their existing belief in God due to the death and violence around them.
Although not everyone goes to war and not all reach the same conclusion or faith in God, you can just about guarantee that all soldiers have thought about it at one time or another.
For Christians seeking to evangelize, this can be a tough barrier to get through. It’s hard enough preaching to an unrepentant brick wall who’s heard about Jesus from every angle and still refuses the truth of the gospel. But how do you reach those who’ve been hardened by life and death experiences and won’t listen?
Speak the truth.
It’s not up to us to soften the hearts of our listeners, that’s the work of the Holy Spirit. It is our job to be obedient and to open our mouths.
How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!
At any risk the truth must be spoken.
History is riddled with accounts of people being converted on their death-bed. There’s something about knowing you’re at the end of the line and having no hope. That’s what makes Jesus so sweet to the believer — hope. We have assurance of new life in Christ Jesus. What does the deathbed atheist have? Nothing. Only a slow creeping shadow of doubt and fear.
So speak the truth and speak it plainly. Perishing sinners do not want your poetry, they want Christ.
Don’t stand idly by and add to the ranks of the deaf-bed atheists. Speak up!