The Catholic Defender In The Land Of The Morning Calm, South Korea
I transferred in January 1998 from Fort Campbell KY for a tour in the "Land of the Morning Calm" known for it's clear waters and high mountains. I would be stationed at Camp Casey/Hovey about 12 miles from the 38th parallel that separates the North and South Korean States. Korea was liberated by the United States along with the Soviet Union on 15 August, 1945 from Empirical Japan. The North were supported by the Soviets while the South was supported by the United Stated and Western powers.
On June 25, 1950, the Soviet Backed North invaded South Korea beginning the Korean conflict that finally a cease fire was called on July 27, 1953. War was never officially ended but ever since the cease fire, there have been an uneasy stale-mate that continues today. The North Koreans have built up a powerful military developing nuclear capabilities and it has been the United States that has kept them in check. Korea is known as the "Land of the Morning Calm" but at any time the threat of war continues.
I was one of about 23,408 American Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines that would act like a speed bump should the North wish to resume the fighting. But we maintain a serious threat as the major world power today. Still, that does not totally erase the constant threat and from time to time skirmishes that take place. I've been to the "Victory Bridge" that separates the militant zone. Part of our road marches for EFMB (Emergency Field Medical Badge) coincide with the chained fence at the South Korean border.
I was a Medical Platoon Sergeant for a Field Artillery unit within the 2nd Infantry Division. I immediately began making improvements within the Platoon and developing a sound Combat Life Saver Program getting the Battalion on track along with supplying them with medical supplies. Life there was always hectic and challenging, I did enjoy playing tennis with our Physician;s Assistant who was very credible. He was a good tennis player as well!
It seemed we were always under some kind of alert status because the threat was always present so accountability was a major focus. Going off post Soldiers could get into trouble as some of the establishments were not always good places to go. Rarely did I ever go off post, but once in a while I did. I would quickly become an asset to the Catholic Priest on Camp Hovey. I would be leading helping Soldiers come into the Catholic Faith, I served as a Eucharistic Minister in the field in the absence of a priest, and I served at Mass in the Post Chapel.
My off time was consumed supporting Father and the Catholic Community like everywhere else I have been in my military career, the field exercises were great opportunities to share the faith. There was a Soldier who kept on challenging me as he was a Charismatic Protestant and wanted me to accept his beliefs. His view was similar to those who believe in the various rapture doctrines you will find preachers like Jack Van Impe promoting with his television shows and movies. I find him entertaining and interesting until he jumps on the rapture trap.
A lot of Protestant denominations do hold to the belief in the rapture but it really has no basis in Scripture or early Church teaching, despite that, they try to apply Scriptural test to what is not there. To counter Halloween's horror houses a number of groups offer "Judgement House" which is a powerful play that ultimately brings judgement on a cast member who will die in the play. Are you ready when the rapture takes place is the major theme. The whole presentation is to get you to recognize your need to accept Christ and get ready for the rapture because you do not want to be left behind.
I always told my challenger that I do want to be left behind which always flipped him out. The truth does not fit into his vocabulary and I know a lot of Converts to the Catholic faith who understands this background very well. It is a tough thing to overcome when it has been placed in your heart like it has for many growing up.
Matthew 13 Jesus gives the major clue on the subject of His return:
Matthew 13:24-30 states, "He proposed another parable to them. The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a man who sowed good seed in his field. While everyone was asleep his enemy came and sowed weeds all through the wheat, and then went off. When the crop grew and bore fruit, the weeds appeared as well. The slaves of the householder came to him and said, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where have the weeds come from?’ He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ His slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ He replied, ‘No, if you pull up the weeds you might uproot the wheat along with them. Let them grow together until harvest;* then at harvest time I will say to the harvesters, “First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning; but gather the wheat into my barn."
Notice that the weeds are first collected for the fire and the wheat was gathered to be placed in the barn. Jesus gives the Apostles His meaning:
Then, dismissing the crowds, he went into the house. His disciples approached him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.” He said in reply, “He who sows good seed is the Son of Man, the field is the world, the good seed the children of the kingdom. The weeds are the children of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. Just as weeds are collected and burned [up] with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all who cause others to sin and all evildoers. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears ought to hear.
Naturally I prefer to hold tight and wait with the Saints who will shine like the sun. This would never make sense to my challenger who could not see it.
The "Rapturist" often quote Matthew 24:40-44 which states, "Two men will be out in the field; one will be taken, and one will be left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken, and one will be left. Therefore, stay awake! For you do not know on which the day your Lord will come. Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour of night when the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and not let his house be broken into. So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come".
The principle scripture most quoted to support the doctrine of the Rapture comes from 1 Thess 4:16-17 which states, "For the Lord himself, with the word of command, with the voice of an archangel and with the TRUMPET of God, will come down from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the CLOUDS to meet the Lord in the air. Thus we shall always be with the Lord". Verse 17, St. Jerome called "will be caught up together" rapiemur, a Latin verb meaning to be "snatched up". The Ana-Baptist movement from Holland, developed the doctrine of the Rapture beginning in the 1830-40's. The Early Church Fathers to include St. Jerome never envisioned a Rapture to take the Christians out before the "Great Tribulation". Consider the "Trumpet of God" in verse 16. Matthew 24:30-31 clarifies this stating, "And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming upon the CLOUDS (1 Thess 4:17) of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send out his angels with a TRUMPET blast, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other". Taking a look at the angels, consider Matthew 13:41-42? It states, "The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all who cause others to sin and all evildoers. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears ought to hear". The more you read into the return of Christ, the more I would prefer to be "left behind"! The first taken would be thrown into the fire. Those remaining will be taken to heaven. Consider Matthew 24:22, Jesus says, "And if those days had not been shortened, no one would be saved; but for the sake of the elect (the Church) they will be shortened". If the Church was taken, there would be no need to shorten the days. When you look at all of the scripture, the Catholic Church becomes more and more solid. The Church proclaims the "Parousia", He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead! Revelation 22:20 says, "The one who gives this testimony says, 'Yes, I am coming soon' Amen! Come, Lord Jesus"! You should look at the whole text. I recommend David Currie's book, "Rapture, End Times Error that Leaves The Bible behind". Mr. Currie is a Catholic Convert formerly a Baptist. He has another well known book "Born Fundelmentalist, Born Again Catholic". Also Paul Thigpen's book "The Rapture Trap" is very good on the subject.
In the end we are "seed planters" and some will never fully understand if your heart is not open to the truth. Sometimes it is a process taking time, it is a gradual scene that time can help a person in their prayerful meditation. Some times the light bulb turns on like a lightning bolt. It is an individual thing and we can only pray for those who do hold out.