On D-Day 1944, the “Screaming Eagle” 101st Airborne was airdropped into a tiny town (hamlet) in France called Angoville-au-Plain located a few miles Southwest of Utah Beach. As the battle raged in the French town, wounded soldiers were brought to a very small one-room stone church built in the 11th century. Two U.S. medics, Robert Wright and Kenneth Moore, set up a medical aid station inside this church’s sanctuary.
In the absence of proper medical beds, the medics worked to save the soldiers, both American and German, lying on the church’s wooden pews. When not directly caring for the wounded, the medics would leave the church to find other wounded soldiers needing care and carry them to the church in a farm cart. The fierce battle ended after 3 days on June 8, 1944. Following the war, the two medics were awarded Silver Stars for their efforts in saving 80 soldiers and a local civilian girl.
After this terrible battle, the townspeople tried to return to normal. They sought to replace the stained glass windows and patch the bullet holes and mortar damage. Instead of replacing the blood-stained pews, the people decided to varnish over the stains, preserving them as a memorial of the event.
In addition to the heroic story of two WW2 medics, these blood-stained pews convery a powerful reminder of the church’s calling - to bring hope and help to those who are wounded by the battle with darkness. Distorted and damaged, we all need mercy, compassion, and practical help. This is the purpose of the Church. Glorifying our compassionate and merciful King, Christians are to give practical aid to those who need it. Leaving the building, we must go out into the war-torn culture and lead them to the healing and wholeness Jesus gives. This is our job.
May our pews be stained with stories of healing, mercy, compassion, and new life.