Not One Was Lost
Sometimes it’s great to just hear a good “praise report,” as we used to call them in Bible College days, 100 years ago. They encourage our faith and glorify our Lord.
The following story not only pictures the protective hand of God released through watchman prayer, but also reveals His providential hand working - even when we are unaware. Sometimes our activities or schedules are interrupted by circumstances, other people, or even demonic entities. However, at times it can be Holy Spirit, working for His purposes and our good. As watchmen, we must check in with Him before assuming changes are bad.
This is the story of Francis Barton and was written by his daughter, Linda Henson. The account has been added to the Archives of the WWII 292nd Engineers. And Linda begins:
“In 1943, my father had the best job he’d ever had. One day the dreaded draft notice arrived. Many of his family and friends encouraged him to go to the courthouse and claim exemption due to working in a munitions plant and having two small children. His answer was, ‘If the man who went in my place was killed, I couldn’t live with myself.’ So, off he went to thirteen weeks of training that turned gentle family men into warriors.
“Following training, he was sent to New York, where he boarded a ship to be a part of the World War II military force. On the ship, all the recruits were assembled, and the Commander asked if anyone had any experience cutting hair. No one volunteered. Dad seemed to be the only one who responded. His only experience consisted of trimming his brother’s and father’s hair on Saturday nights so they could go to church, but that was of little consequence. He was assigned the task of being the company barber for the duration of his military service. And, of course, the barbering was done after all other training and chores were completed. Dad says he enjoyed the extra job; it helped to keep his mind off of the loneliness and the horrors of war and gave him extra funds to send home to his family.
“Dad was an engineer. Engineers built the roads and bridges so that the troops could travel.
“Just after the famed “Battle of the Bulge,” his 292nd Engineers were given the task of building a bridge across the river which would open the way for the Allies’ invasion troops into Berlin. The Germans knew of the planned attack and gathered all the artillery they could muster, lined the river with big guns, and flooded the river.
“Dad’s company approached the river and found it flooded, so they set up camp several miles away from the river, where they rehearsed their plan, prepared their equipment, and....waited ....and waited for the waters to recede. At any moment, the command would come, and they would have to rush to do their job. To say the atmosphere was tense would be an understatement. While they waited, the officers daily reminded the men to write letters home to their families because most of them would not come back from this assignment. It was not unusual to see a man wiping tears as he wrote his letter to his family, and some were praying with Chaplains.
“On the first Christmas of my parents’ marriage, there was not much money, so they decided that they would buy a Bible, and that would be their gift to each other. This is the kind of man who was facing death alongside so many others.
“One night, after all the military duties were finished, he set up his barber shop and began to cut hair. It almost seemed ludicrous that so many men wanted their hair cut when any day could be their last, but maybe it seemed a hopeful thing to do. At any rate, it felt like everyone in the company needed a haircut; he thought the line would never end. The last man raised up out of the chair around 3:00 A.M. Dad was so tired he just fell into his cot.
“Around 6:00 A.M., he awoke with a start! Somehow he felt something was wrong. Immediately he was on his feet. As he looked around, he saw that no one else was in the tent. He ran to the next tent. NO ONE. The next. NO ONE. What had happened? Cooks never leave camp, so he ran to the mess tent. ‘Where is everybody? What’s happened?’ The cooks said that the call had come for the engineers to build the bridge.
“‘Why didn’t someone wake me” he asked in total desperation.
“‘The colonel said you worked all night; let you sleep.’
“Now, it’s unheard of for an officer in the armed forces to have mercy and let a soldier sleep when such an important job has to be done. But that’s what happened. My father was beside himself. Men might die in his place! They were too far away, he’d never catch them in time.
“He did the only thing that he knew to do. He ran back to his tent and fell on his knees. He prayed through the first hour. He prayed through the second hour. He prayed all afternoon. He never got up. He could hear the shells bursting miles away and feel the earth tremors as bombs dropped. His mind conjured up images of his friends being slaughtered. He kept on praying. Finally, he heard sounds of the returning army.
“He was so stiff from being on his knees he could hardly walk, but he began to trudge down the trail that they had made as they left. Who would be missing? Terrors invaded his mind as he limped toward the advancing men. He could see the trucks in the distance and hear shouts but couldn’t make out what they were saying. Were they angry that he was left asleep?
“Tears filled his eyes at the thought of trucks loaded with the dead. The closer he got, he heard more shouting, and still, he couldn’t make out what they were saying. He prepared himself for the looks of disappointment from his friends.
“Finally, he came into hearing distance and stopped dead in his tracks, for the words they were shouting were, ‘NOT ONE WAS LOST! NOT ONE WAS LOST.’
“Just a few miles up the river, two other companies had been given the same assignment, and they were cut to shreds. Many families of those men received the letters that had been written.
“Heroes come in many forms. I believe my Dad saved the lives of those men that day.
“Note: One of Dad’s buddies had kept a diary every day of the war even though it was not allowed. Just before my father died, the children of his army buddy put the diary on the computer and sent it to us. We quickly turned to the date of this event. There, he told the same story of how Barton was left sleeping because he had worked all night. He ended by saying, ‘The Man Upstairs must have been watching out for us because we all came back.’” (1)
Pray with me:
Father, thank You for encouraging us with this incredible testimony. Your sovereign hand is working at times when we are completely unaware of it. Teach us to listen, to be alert for divine occurrences and setups. Far too often it takes a burning bush to get us to turn aside and listen. Usually, You speak through the still small voice.
We pledge to listen more carefully for Your alerts. You told us to watch/be on the alert for one another (Ephesians 6.18). As we listen to You, we’ll save lives, thwart attacks of the enemy and seize opportunities.
You have told us we are in a critical month for our nation. Several have gone to DC to pray, others to their state and city government headquarters. We agree now for Your breakthroughs to occur. Batter through demonic strongholds and barriers. We declare that Baal’s strong hold on America is broken, in the name of Jesus. The national covenant with death has been reversed, he may no longer rule our nation. We declare also that his regional entrenchments are uprooted, freeing entire cities and states. And we now ask for Holy Spirit to be poured out.
We declare that we are watching, alertly listening to the warnings of Holy Spirit, and thereby are shapers of history!
Click on the link below to watch the full video.
Taken from the Pentecostal Evangel, Springfield, MO, November 9, 2008 and November 9, 2014. Used by permission from author Linda Henson.