New International Version (NIV)
12 The one who is victorious I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will they leave it. I will write on them the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on them my new name.
The day began as usual with the sun rising and the arduous climb up and out of the box that had been his bed now for almost three years. He had only been in Vietnam two months when he was captured by a VC patrol. Three of his buddies were killed that day and two others were sent north on a boat. The local authorities thought they had information about US troop movements and they were sent on to their headquarters up the river. He had been wounded and was not expected to survive the night. They tossed him headlong into the Pit that night thinking he would be dead in the morning.
He might have drowned then and there but another American was down below and pulled him up and out of the water at the bottom of the Pit. He held him through the night and tended his wounds as best he could. In the morning he had somehow survived. His torment though had only just begun. The captain of the camp called to them from above and his new friend told him he would have to make it up and out of the Pit or be killed. He helped him up and through his pain and fear, he pulled himself up and out of that hellhole.
The two of them lay at the captain’s feet trying to catch their breath. The captain came over pushed him over with his boot. The searing pain caused him to writhe in anguish. The captain smiled with delight as he watched him twist and turn. He told his men to place him in the Box for the next week, give him food and water, and prisoner’s clothes. The other young man was punched with a rifle butt and placed on work detail. He was never seen again.
Being placed in the Box saved his life because he got to rest and had food and water, but the Box was no picnic. It was just that, a box. It sat in the center of the camp in the blinding heat, which often reached over one hundred degrees in the summer. It was summer. By the end of the week though, he had regained enough strength to stand to his feet when they finally released him. The captain was there as he stood to his feet. Two VCs came over and smacked him with their rifle butts and placed him in chains. A set for his hands and another set for his feet. He would come to know their every link, as they would never be taken off of him. He was turned over to the children in the camp to be their slave. He would from then on work from sun up until sundown, driven by children with goads, sharp pointed sticks, and taunted the whole time with his new name, ông jangles! Which means, “he jangles” in Vietnamese. It was the sound that his chains made as he worked endlessly and endured his plight.
Each day he would also suffer the punches and kicks of the guards and the captain. At first, he would cry at night and call out to God, pleading for His intercession or for his death. Neither came; however, but he did come to accept his place. Several of the children grew to like him and they all quit their taunting. He had to work, but the beatings became fewer and fewer. Not so with the captain though. He continued to beat him and take great pleasure in hurting him and the other prisoners. He came to see though, that the captain was in a greater set of chains than he was. His chains were harsh, but the chains of hatred and anger that the captain wore were even worse. He could only imagine what had set the captain on this course. Some of the other prisoners had said he had a son before the war and he was a great violinist, but an American bomb had killed his son and his wife of twenty-eight years.
I met “He jangles” one morning. I had just pulled myself up out of the Pit. The captain kicked me in the face. He jangles ran to me and placed himself between the captain and me, begging for my safety. He had learned that the one thing the captain loved more than revenge, was begging. With one quick kick to “He Jangles” ribs, he turned and went back into his quarters. I was taken up river that afternoon, but I will always remember “He jangles” and wonder at his spirit. How he stood up to the trial that he endured or why, I will never know. I did come to know this though, we all have our Pits, our Boxes, our chains, and our spirits that mold us and hold us together. I also learned to never think less of a man unless you have been where he’s been. Each man faces his torment as he best can. Grant each man all the grace you can muster. It’s the only way to shine some heavenly light into the darkest of places.
Your grace and Your mercy rains down from heaven and clothes the righteous in the blood of Jesus.
Let every heart be glad. Let every heart take hope. Let every heart rejoice at the coming of our King.
Thank you, Lord.