To Battle We Go: Missing In Action

May 29, 2023 | by Brad Rowland

To Battle We Go: Missing In Action

By: Dr. Steve Kellner

Compiling casualty figures is a grisly task but it's taken very seriously by our military services. One of the first things that happens after any combat action is an accountability formation so that leaders can determine the number and type of casualties, those killed, wounded, and missing. This is done so that commanders know how many effective troops are available for the next action, and whether they need to send in reinforcements. But another important reason is to show their concern for every individual member of the unit, their whereabouts, the extent of their wounds, whether they have been captured by the enemy, and their general condition. Everyone is accounted for, a critical factor in the morale and fighting spirit of the unit.

But it's not enough to simply list someone as missing or "MIA.” A special unit called the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency is tasked with the never-ending worldwide search for the missing. Sometimes it takes decades to find them (usually by identifying their remains, sadly), but it still helps to bring closure and comfort to the families of the missing. The US Congress has sought to bring attention to this effort by making September 15th "National POW/MIA Recognition Day," and mandating that the POW/ MIA flag be flown over government buildings on six different federal holidays. This flag, with the motto "You Are Not Forgotten", is the only flag to fly inside the rotunda of the US Capitol.

Reflecting on this commitment to locate the missing makes me think of all the Salvationists I have known over the years who are now "MIA," no longer involved with the Army in any way, at least to my knowledge. (At my age the number is probably up into the thousands!) Perhaps they have found another church home and are serving the Lord faithfully, and if so, wonderful. But shouldn't we know where they are? Based on present societal trends there is a better than average chance that they are not involved in any church, or that Christianity plays little to no role in their lives.

I was one of those missing Salvationists for about 15 years and so have some experience on the other side of this issue. As it happens, my family and I were faithfully serving the Lord in several other churches during that time, but I must admit that there was no great effort by the Army writ large to track us down after we left, and, unfortunately, this has been the experience of many former Salvationists.

Perhaps we can't have a MIA Salvationists flag or set aside a Sunday as "National Missing Salvationists Sunday." Or maybe we can! But, at the very least, every corps should make a good faith effort to contact known former Salvationists in their city or town. If nothing else, this effort to know their whereabouts and general spiritual condition might bring comfort to them or their families. But it would also show concern for current corps members, that everyone is accounted for, and this would certainly raise the morale and fighting spirit of a corps congregation.

MIA Salvationists, you are not forgotten!

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