WHEN those who lost their lives in armed conflict are remembered in services this weekend and on Remembrance Day, there is a body of men and women who tend to be overlooked. These are those who survived the conflict, but not intact.
The ratio of wounded to dead has varied from conflict to conflict, depending on the nature of the weapons used and the medical facilities available. Casualty figures for the First World War are notoriously unreliable. It is certain, none the less, that the number who were wounded was more than double that of those who were killed.
Some sources put the ratio as high as 6:1. In subsequent wars, life-saving treatment has attempted to keep pace with the sophistication of weaponry. As a result, members of the armed forces can now survive injuries that would once have killed them. But rebuilding lives is often as difficult as rebuilding bodies.
Kirstie Ennis, a US marine, now aged 24, took part in the 1000-mile walk which ended at Buckingham Palace last weekend. Her face had to be reconstructed after a helicopter crash in Afghanistan, and she awaits an operation to amputate her leg. Yet she told the press: “The six of us here today did come home: we are actually the lucky ones.” It is important to note that many who attend Remembrance services this weekend are themselves victims.
It is also important to recall among the many other victims those whose misfortune it is to live in a place where conflict breaks out. Civilians in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere do not have access to anything like the level of health care available to the Western military.
THERE are some interesting figures in Talking Jesus, the evangelism-related survey commissioned by the Church of England and others, and to be discussed in the General Synod. Much has been made of the largely negative reactions recorded by those subjected to the “Jesus talk”, but this is hardly surprising, given the disjunction between what non-Christians think they want and what Christians absolutely know they need. We have no information, sadly, about the nature of these encounters which might point to a happier outcome.
One of the findings was that 66 per cent of “practising Christians” had spoken about Jesus to a non-Christian in the previous month. Here we take issue with the words rather than the figures. The report defines a “practising” Christian as someone who prays regularly, reads the Bible, and attends church at least once a month. No mention is made of Christian service, or of the concept that demonstrating the love of Christ through action and pastoral care might be a more effective form of evangelism than speaking about Christ appears to be.