When we arrived in Washington for our second tour of duty, we immediately looked up Barcroft Bible Church in Arlington. It had been recommended by Lee before we left Pensacola, and we were not disappointed as what we found. Our pastor was a Dallas Theological Seminary grad, and a great Bible teacher. The church had a youth program called Christian Service Brigade, and I really enjoyed being one of the leaders. It was like the Scouts, but was Christ-centered, and involved both boys and girls. My fondest memory of the group involved taking four young men on a weekend camping trip on the Appalachian Trail. It was very hot and humid the first day, and shortly after we began hiking, it began to rain lightly. We all put our ponchos on over our backpacks and continued the trek. Our plan was to hike to the camping area which was about five miles from where we started. The boys, all teens, didn't seem to be having any difficulty, but after about four miles, I was extremely weak, and "freezing." That was strange because it was about ninety degrees. We came to where the path crossed a road, and I could go no farther. Two of the boys decided to hike to the camp ranger's office to get help. It was not long before the ranger arrived and loaded us all in her vehicle. We were rescued!
The park ranger told me that I had suffered hypothermia; my poncho held in my body heat, and coupled with the exertion of hiking, had acted as a sauna. I had nearly sweated myself to death. I was dehydrated and very close to death according to her. Dry clothes, plenty of liquids, and rest seemed to take care of it, but we still decided to call the church and have someone come get us. Here I was, in the prime of my life (early thirties), and I had to be rescued by the very teens for which I had hoped to be a blessing. Had they not volunteered to go for help, I was so out-of-it that I probably would have died. God was merciful and those boys were definitely heroes that day. All their training had been put to good use, that is for sure.
Barcroft was also the place where my wife and I served on the Barcroft Service Ministry "board of directors." We had been on a retreat with several other couples, and while sitting around the fire in the lounge, the conversation seemed to be focused upon the needy in and near our church. Later, three couples got together and formed the BSM. It consisted of over one hundred volunteers who offered their skills free of charge to anyone in need. Three "shut-ins" offered to serve as "hot line" coordinators of services twenty-four hours a day. We listed our volunteers by skills and the "operators" contacted them depending upon the need. Twice a year, the auto mechanics met in the church parking lot and held a free auto service day. All of our labor was free, and on one occasion, the church paid for the materials for a roof replacement. Someone donated a large flatbed truck and, on nearly every Saturday, several of us helped families move. The joy of serving and the fellowship of working with one another made a lasting impression on the church, and on the community. We were fulfilling the Lord's admonition. To be continued.