A Ragtag Navy

One of the most remarkable naval operations in history broke every naval rule in the book, followed none of the established procedures for a naval operation and wasn't even accomplished by navy personnel. And yet, few people will contest that it was the greatest naval operation that ever happened. 

I'm talking about the rescue that happened at Dunkirk, in the spring of 1940. If you haven't read about it, grab any book you can on the history of World War II, and look it up. You'll be glad you did. 

It happened during the most discouraging point in the war. Hitler was winning, and if ever there was a time when evil was conquering the world, 1940 was it! France had fallen. The Dutch had surrendered. The Belgians had surrendered. Hitler's tanks were thundering to the coast just as fast as they could go, where some 340,000 British and Allied troops were trapped on the western coast of Europe, on the beach outside a little French port called Dunkirk. There was no way of escape. They were caught between the Germans and the sea. And the Germans outnumbered them 2 to 1! 

340,000 men facing certain destruction and the British navy had enough ships to rescue 17,000 of them. The English Parliament was ordered to prepare the public for a message of "slaughter". The entire free world turned on their radios and listened in grief to the catastrophe that was unfolding at Dunkirk. 

But on the morning of May 27, the cornered soldiers on the beach at Dunkirk began to hear the faintest "putt-putt" rumble coming through the English Channel fog. 

Moments later, a little "fleet" of ships began to emerge, that had to be the oddest thing the world has ever seen. Well, let's not even call them "ships", shall we? "Boats" is the proper term. There were trawlers, tugboats, fishing boats, lifeboats, fireboats, sailboats, motorboats; there was an old ferry-boat name the Gracie Fields. There were fifty river barges as well. (Can you imagine, going 'to sea' on a river barge?)There was even an American racing yacht—The Endeavor—fresh from the America's Cup races. 

And while we're at it, let's not call it a "little" fleet either. There were, after all, 850 of them, all crawling their way across the English Channel, and every single one of them manned by a civilian. 

J.B. Priestly, the English novelist was right there in the midst of them, manning a boat of his own. When he wrote about it later, he called it "a journey into Hell".The entire operation lasted nine days. Most of the vessels made the crossing several times and that's how long it took to evacuate all those men. 

It was the largest "ragtag" navy in history, accomplishing the greatest naval feat in history. Eventually they rescued 338,682 men and brought them safely back to the shores of England. Like I said, grab a book and look it up. You'll be overwhelmed. 

(By the way, you can ignore the very under whelming movie version that Christopher Nolan made last year. It is the typical Hollywood mishandling of Truth. The "cause" of the war is never mentioned; the evils of the enemy are never portrayed. There is not a single German soldier in the movie. "I didn't want to get into politics", Nolan tried to explain. Not a drop of blood is shed. Not a moment of footage is given to some of the greatest heroes at Dunkirk, like The Medway Queen, a paddle steamer that rescued 7,000 troops and shot down three German planes; or The Royal Daffodil that rescued 9,500 troops after stuffing a mattress into a hole in their hull, which had been blown there below the waterline. Read a book dear family, and spare yourself the insult of Hollywood's pathetic revisionism).

Oops. I'm ranting again. Let's see where was I? Oh yes... 

You know what occurs to me? This dear church of ours is an awful lot like that ragtag navy. Simple everyday people are manning this humble little vessel. Each of us with different vocations, different pursuits and with varying degrees of Christian maturity. There are not many "professionals" among us, but most of those, I notice, are just as humble as the rest; and in every way true servants! We don't always follow the 'protocol'; we don't do things the popular way. We have not the time, nor the resources, nor the will to be builders of a 'superchurch'. 

No! Of course we don't. There is a rescue underway, dear family! People are 'trapped', both at home and abroad! People are 'cornered' and their Enemy is coming! 

This world cannot save them! But—oh, praise God!—our Savior can! And you, dear humble, faithful OT, are part of his "fleet"! 

See you Sunday!                             RAS

An Agent of Christ
The God Who Waits