Thursday, February 5, 2015


Desmond Doss is one of my all-time favorite Christian heroes. The documentary on his life CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTOR is one of my all-time favorite documentaries. Below you will find a link to the film and a Bible study based upon it:

Conscientious Objector Bible Study

00:00:01- 00:19:49

1 John 3:11-16

11 For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another; 12 not as Cain, who was of the evil one and slew his brother. And for what reason did he slay him? Because his deeds were evil, and his brother’s were righteous.
 13 Do not be surprised, brethren, if the world hates you.
14We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death. 15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. 16 We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

What do you think it means to say “Whoso would be a man, must be a non-conformist”?

Do you agree with that statement? Why or why not?
(Note: Emerson was talking about being a fully formed human being. To be fully human you must live according to principles, and living according to principles will make it difficult to live like everyone else does. You cannot ‘conform’ and be true to yourself. You must be yourself no matter what anyone says.)

Who are some of your heroes, real and fictional?

What are some real-life figures that have one foot in this world and another foot in the world of myth?
(Note: Think Babe Ruth, Robert Johnson, Abraham Lincoln, Bruce Lee, Jimi Hendrix, Sergeant York, just to name a few)

What would it be like to meet someone like that and get to tell their story?

What makes someone a hero?
(Note: Heroism is about living according to what you think is right no matter the cost. True heroism is about risk taking for the right reasons, about making yourself vulnerable and receiving the consequences of that vulnerability.)

What did the narrator say about Desmond’s amazing actions?
(Note: He says that the more you learn about them, the more Desmond seems to become an almost mythical figure, like you can’t believe he really exists.)

What kind of man is Desmond?
(Note: He is a simple man, very everyday and humble.)

What did Desmond’s family have in their living room?
(Note: An illustrated copy of the Ten Commandments.)

Which commandment did he focus on and why did he focus on that one?
(Note: Desmond focused on the commandment ‘thou shalt not kill’, because it came to him as a mystery. He could not understand why anyone would kill anyone else. That mystery brought fascination and then conviction.)

Does the fact that people murder strike you as a mystery?
(Note: It is interesting the various reactions people get to the idea. For some it is a complete mystery, and others see it as a natural consequence of what they see as obviously true in human nature. One wonders what this say about the people who hold the different attitudes.)

What message did Desmond receive from God through the picture of Cain and Abel?
(Note: He knew he was to do no harm to anyone.)

What did Desmond’s brother say about him?
(Note: He said that he was incredibly stubborn; he would never give up.)

What tragedies did Desmond face as a child?
(Note: His family was poor and his father was absentee. He saw his father almost kill a man and get arrested.)

How does Desmond’s early life match up to Jesus Christ?
(Note: It is amazing the ‘Christic’ images in Desmond’s life. Raised by his mother who was devoutly religious, pacifistic in his approach to life, there are some striking similarities here.)

Matthew 4:8-9
8 Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory; 9 and he said to Him, “All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me.”

Romans 13:1-3
 1 Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. 3 For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same;

Matthew 22:21b
“ Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s.”

How powerful are the principles of your religion in your life?
(Note: Most of us, most of the time, do not let our spirituality truly guide our actions as Desmond did. For him God fully permeated his life, and few of us even approach that kind of ‘environmental’ faith.)

Why did Desmond pass on a military deferment if he was so opposed to war?
(Note: Desmond believed it was important to serve your country, just as he thought it was important to stay true to the commandments. He believed in his country, and saw his very right to be free TO follow the commandments as under threat by those who were threatening the US. So he wanted to serve, but not to kill.)

Do you think it is possible to serve both God and country at the same time? Why or why not?
(Note: This is a big question with no easy answer. There are traditions in the Bible that seem to indicate that all political power is a satanic challenge to God. There are others that say political power is God’s tool and still others that think a compromise is possible. Where you come out is up to you to discover.)

Why did his volunteering for the Army worry Desmond’s sister?

What did Desmond’s commander tell him when he said he would not carry a gun?
(Note: He told Desmond, ‘this is where WE tell YOU the way things are going to be.’)

Do you think it was fair to put Desmond in the labor camp with the other objectors? Why or why not?
(Note: Desmond should not have been lumped in with those who opposed the US as an institution, for this is not what he believed. His desire to be a medic should at least have been considered, as it finally was.)

How did Desmond try to argue against his inclusion in the camps? What did he mean by this?
(Note: Desmond says he was not a conscientious objector but a conscientious supporter. He wanted to help the war effort, but there had to be some restrictions on what he could do because of his religious beliefs.)

Do you think it is wrong to try to get people to give up a moral conviction opposing war, in some circumstances?
(Note: We need to respect people’s genuine religious convictions but you can easily give people an ‘out’ that will be exploited. So looking down on conscientious objection makes some sense. What these people don’t realize is that he already had an out if he wanted to avoid war, and didn’t take it.)

What do you think of conscientious objectors?

Matthew 5:11
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Galatians 1:10
For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.

Psalm 1:1-2
1 How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,
Nor stand in the path of sinners,
Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!
2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
And in His law he meditates day and night.

Why did the army put Desmond with a rifle company?
(Note: They were trying to create the ultimate ‘peer pressure’, letting the men abuse Desmond to get him to change his ways. This fish out of water move would make life very difficult for him, unless he did change or quit.)

What do you think of this move?

People talk a lot about ‘peer pressure’, do you experience this very often? How do you respond to it?

How do your struggles in this matter compare to Desmond’s?

How did the other soldiers treat Desmond?
(Note: They treated him hatefully, like garbage. He had no friends and was attacked at every turn, even to the point of being threatened with murder. It was quite disgusting.)

What was his constant companion during this time?

How did they treat him for being so loyal to his Bible?

What did one of the men say about what Desmond endured?
(Note: He said he could not have handled it.)

Do you think you could have handled what he went through in the Barracks?

What made it possible for Desmond to endure?

Does your religion give you this kind of strength? Do you think it should?
(Note: If you find no strength from your religion then you aren’t getting out of it what you should. The main sign of God’s presence is His empowering of His people. This is the very essence of the Holy Spirit.)

What did the alienation mean for Desmond as a soldier?
(Note: Soldiers face difficulties in the best of circumstances, difficulties they need their fellow soldiers’ help to deal with. Desmond’s alienation meant he was less than what he needed to be just to deal with his situation.)

What would it have meant if Desmond had succumbed to the social pressures he faced?
(Note: It would’ve meant the sacrifice of his very soul. Desmond has his own connection to God, and he could not sacrifice this for anything.)

Do you think you ‘go along to get along’ too much?


Proverbs 18:22
He who finds a wife finds a good thing
And obtains favor from the LORD.

Who supported Desmond during his trials in basic training?

What can this teach us about a strong romantic relationship?
(Note: As the Proverbs passage says, finding the right mate can be the foundation of a well-lived life. God’s favor is in a good wife or husband. Look hard and think long about who you will marry, for it means a lot.)

Exodus 20:9-11
Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath of the LORD your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you. 11 For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.

Mark 3:1-5
1 He entered again into a synagogue; and a man was there whose hand was withered. 2 They were watching Him to see if He would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse Him. 3 He said to the man with the withered hand, “Get up and come forward!” 4 And He said to them, “Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the Sabbath, to save a life or to kill?” But they kept silent. 5 After looking around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored.

Luke 24:1-3
1 But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. 2 And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.

1 Maccabees 2:39-41

What does keeping the Sabbath mean to you?

Why do we worship on Sunday and not Saturday?
(Note: Christians worship on Sunday because Jesus was resurrected on a Sunday and appeared on the following Sundays afterward.)

What do you think of Desmond’s decision not to work from sun down Friday to sun down Saturday?

How do the Bible passages influence your position on this matter?
(Note: It is interesting how admirable the impulse is even as we have good reasons not to accept it. We applaud Desmond for doing what he did but at the same time we know, or should know, that this is not how Jesus wanted us to apply the Sabbath rules. What is true is that most of us turn aside from the Sabbath commandment far too easily. For too many of us, Sunday is just an hour at church in the morning, and nothing else.)

Which one probably would not have been able to influence Desmond and why?
(Note: Desmond would not have accepted the Maccabees passage because he would not accept the apocrypha as Canonical, but in terms of subject matter it applied perfectly to his situation.)

How did the other soldiers respond to Desmond’s practices on Saturday?
(Note: They hated him for getting a day off they didn’t get, and they gave him all the worst duties on Sunday to punish him for it.)

What do you think of this reaction?
(Note: It makes some sense. In the end Desmond WAS getting special treatment for his religious beliefs.)

What was the Jewish commander’s argument against Desmond’s keeping of the Sabbath? What do you think of this?
(Note: He said to Desmond that he, too, was supposed to keep the Sabbath but that there were some duties that one could point to in order to supersede those responsibilities. It is interesting how ‘New Testament’ the Jewish man’s position seems, in contrast to Desmond.)

What do you think of the threat to court martial Desmond?
(Note: Again, it makes some sense, because Desmond seems to be a problem in the abstract. But when you look at the details of his service, it seems like his positives outweigh the negatives.)

Romans 12:14-20
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. 16 Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. 17 Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. 19 Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,” says the Lord. 20 “BUT IF YOUR ENEMY IS HUNGRY, FEED HIM, AND IF HE IS THIRSTY, GIVE HIM A DRINK; FOR IN SO DOING YOU WILL HEAP BURNING COALS ON HIS HEAD.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Does it surprise you that these men thought of maneuvers in the US as the worst environment they experienced throughout the war?
(Note: Amazing when you think about the fact that they served in the jungles of the Eastern Front.)

Does it surprise you that Desmond risked so much for the men in his unit, going above his commanding officer’s head?
(Note: Isn’t it amazing that he does so much for those who treated him so badly. This reveals a lot about his character.)

What were some of the things Desmond did for his men?
(Note: He shared his water with them, and worked hard to heal every wound.)

Why did Jack Glover think that Desmond needed a gun? Do you agree with him on this point?
(Note: Jack says that war is killing, and you cannot win a war without guns, and so every man needs a gun. Other medics had guns, and so Desmond should too. But Desmond’s point that there were other ways he could contribute is valid as well.)

What did the men say about Jack Glover and Desmond’s convictions?
(Note: They said that both men were being the best people they could be, acting on their best moral insights. Both were good men trying to do the right thing.)

Why is it important to remember that good men can disagree about important issues on moral grounds?
(Note: Hopefully it makes us more humble about what we think is right. We must keep in mind this essential truth if we are truly to live out love as we fight for what is right.)

How did Desmond frame his position in his letters to his wife?
(Note: He said he’d be just as important on the front lines as one who gives life, as he would be as one who takes life.)

Isaiah 53:2-3, 7
2 For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot,
And like a root out of parched ground;
He has no stately form or majesty
That we should look upon Him,
Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.
3 He was despised and forsaken of men,
A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
And like one from whom men hide their face
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.

 7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He did not open His mouth;
Like a lamb that is led to slaughter,
And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers,
So He did not open His mouth.

How did they try to remove Desmond from the army?
(Note: They tried to give him a medical discharge on the grounds that he was no good to the army if he would not fight.)

How did he respond to the charges, what was his attitude like?
(Note: He was peaceful and calm, reacting calmly and with the words of truth and love. So reminiscent of Isaiah 53:7).

Ironically, what save Desmond during this time?
(Note: The very religious freedoms Desmond wanted to help fight for saved him. No high-up was going to throw a man out on religious grounds for fear of their actions being unconstitutional.)

How did Cunningham frame the gun/violence debate to Desmond?
(Note: He asked Desmond what he’d do if his mother was threatened with a gun, and then he threatened to court martial Desmond if he would not take a gun.)

How did Desmond respond?
(Note: He said that he would respond with violence against an attacker, but not with a gun and not with murder.)

What do you think of this response?
(Note: Desmond is probably not being very realistic about his options in the situation given, but regardless the commander’s actions were unfounded. Desmond was talking about his action towards the state and the state’s enemies during a time of war, not a direct threat on a family member.)

What were some of the hardships Cunningham put on Desmond?
(Note: He gave him the worst jobs, refused him any leave, made him work constantly, and even prevented him from seeing his brother. It reminds one of religious persecution.)

What do you think of Cunningham’s behavior?
(Note: Cunningham really crosses a line here. Desmond’s other ‘army enemies’ had acted reasonably though in a short-sighted manner. This guy was downright evil in his approach to the whole matter.)

Why do you think some of the men started to come to Desmond’s aid?
(Note: At this point they’d seen him work and they had some idea about what kind of person he was. Besides, you can bet this officer treated them badly too and they didn’t like seeing him pick on Desmond.)

What did Desmond say about compromising his beliefs?
(Note: He said if he had compromised once it would’ve started him down a long road of compromise until there was nothing left of his convictions.)

What do you think of this analysis?


Job 19:14-21

14 “My relatives have failed,
And my intimate friends have forgotten me.
15 “Those who live in my house and my maids consider me a stranger.
I am a foreigner in their sight.
16 “I call to my servant, but he does not answer;
I have to implore him with my mouth.
17 “My breath is offensive to my wife,
And I am loathsome to my own brothers.
18 “Even young children despise me;
I rise up and they speak against me.
19 “All my associates abhor me,
And those I love have turned against me.
20 “My bone clings to my skin and my flesh,
And I have escaped only by the skin of my teeth.
21 “Pity me, pity me, O you my friends,
For the hand of God has struck me.

What did Desmond say it was like to leave his wife and loved ones?
(Note: He says it was his lowest moment, he and other men cried though they didn’t want to.)

Can you imagine what it must be like to go off to war?

What were some of the hardships faced by the men on the Eastern Front?
(Note: The men described hell on earth. They had to go to the bathroom in their helmets, endure constant shelling, every moment and every person they faced was pure danger and on and on. War really is hell.)

Matthew 10:41-42
He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward; and he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward. 42 And whoever in the name of a disciple gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water to drink, truly I say to you, he shall not lose his reward.”

1 John 3:16
We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

What did Desmond do at night?
(Note: He crawled around in the “no man’s land” in front of the front lines and treated everyone he found. He just worked and treated.)

Why do you think this was against the rules?
(Note: Desmond himself could’ve been killed and medics were vital to the war effort. It was an incredibly dangerous thing, putting yourself in the line of fire for extended periods of time.)

What were some of the things the men said about his actions in Guam?
(Note: They said they don’t know how he survived doing what he did, and that his bravery was unmatched. He saved countless lives at great personal risk.)

What do you think about Desmond disobeying orders to help his men?
(Note: Desmond was following the underlying reason for his presence on the front. It would’ve been hard for a commander to really do anything about it without alienating his men. Desmond was, after all, saving THEM.)

What does all this reveal about Desmond’s character?
(Note: Desmond was a committed person who genuinely wanted to help. He loved his men and cared supremely about his job.)

What story sticks with Desmond? Why does it stick with him?
(Note: The story of the man with the blood in his face sticks with Desmond because of the smile he had when he realized he wasn’t blind. That smile made all his work worth it.)

Do you think that Desmond’s actions were worth anything, if the man died shortly after?

Why do you think this?
(Note: It depends on what you think ‘worth’ comes from. For Desmond, it mattered a lot, but we must remember the religious context of his sense of meaning and value. The real question is whether it would be worth anything without that context.)

How did that event affect Desmond?
(Note: Desmond no longer wanted to know the names of the men he saved so he wouldn’t learn later on whether they survived. The surplus death would’ve demoralized him and made it impossible to do his job.)

Matthew 5:16

Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

Matthew 5:38-40
38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘AN EYE FOR AN EYE, AND A TOOTH FOR A TOOTH.’ 39 But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. 40 If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also.

What started to happen as Desmond went about his work?
(Note: Desmond quickly became a legend. People heard stories about him saving everybody, everyone had a ‘Desmond Doss saved me’ story. It was like he was the Angel Raphael himself going around and healing people.)

What were some of the stories that grew up around him?

Do you aspire to leave a mark that others know about? Can you make something like this happen, or does it just happen?

What do you think of Desmond helping enemy wounded?

How did the enemy treat medics? Why would they do this?
(Note: Japanese tried to kill medics, to demoralize the men. Without medics at your back, you know any wound is probably a death sentence.)

How did the Japanese behave during the war?
(Note: Their war crimes are too horrible to describe, including institutionalized rape. They used terror tactics to motivate native peoples to fight the Americans. They violated the white flag symbol. They used women and children to fight.)

What was it like for the men in the story to talk about killing the women used against them in war?
(Note: That look on the one man’s face is too terrible to describe in words. He is haunted by it. It cut him in his soul.)

How did Desmond respond to this brutality?

Why do you think he did this?
(Note: Desmond lived out the idea that God is life. He was committed to saving life, plain and simple. He didn’t make moral judgments beyond that commitment.)

What happened when he tried to save Japanese soldiers?

What do you think of this?
(Note: It is understandable. But one wonders if Desmond saving a few Japanese soldiers would’ve meant anything that horrible. Though there was the issue of supplies. Perhaps they couldn’t keep prisoners alive and would’ve had to kill them anyways.)

Matthew 7:19-21
Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 So then, you will know them by their fruits.
   21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.

What do we learn about Cunningham during the war?
(Note: He was a coward, and he ran in battle. So terrible was his behavior that his men thought about killing him.)

What does this tell us about his earlier bullying behavior?
(Note: Isn’t it funny how often bullies turn out to be cowards. The need to feel superior often hides real inferiority.)

How did he compare to Desmond Doss?

How did all this change the attitude about Desmond vis a vis his fellow soldiers?
(Note: They started to see that Desmond was the real deal: that he was a man of faith and all he did was about faith and not cowardice. They respected him and started to hold him in awe, as the stories indicate.)

What did they say about him not carrying a weapon?


Isaiah 46:8-11
8 “Remember this, and be assured;
Recall it to mind, you transgressors.
9 “Remember the former things long past,
For I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is no one like Me,
10 Declaring the end from the beginning,
And from ancient times things which have not been done,
Saying, ‘My purpose will be established,
And I will accomplish all My good pleasure’;
11 Calling a bird of prey from the east,
The man of My purpose from a far country.
Truly I have spoken; truly I will bring it to pass.
I have planned it, surely I will do it.

What was life like on Okinawa?

What did the men say about the dead?
(Note: The presence of death is particularly emphasized in the film. The blood in the water, the bodies piled up. It is very poignant and very hard even to hear about.)

What do you think this environment was like for someone like Desmond Doss?
(Note: Can you imagine a pacifist in a situation like this? It is almost unthinkable.)

Do you think it was right for the men to go back to the escarpment on Okinawa? What is the purpose in them going?
(Note: It sure seems to cause them a lot of pain, but the purpose of their attending was to honor a man who needed to be honored and tell a story that needed to be told. And for them, that was worth it.)

What is Okinawa like today?

2 Kings 19:14-19, 32-34

14 Then Hezekiah took the letter from the hand of the messengers and read it, and he went up to the house of the LORD and spread it out before the LORD. 15 Hezekiah prayed before the LORD and said, “O LORD, the God of Israel, who are enthroned above the cherubim, You are the God, You alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. 16 Incline Your ear, O LORD, and hear; open Your eyes, O LORD, and see; and listen to the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to reproach the living God. 17 Truly, O LORD, the kings of Assyria have devastated the nations and their lands 18 and have cast their gods into the fire, for they were not gods but the work of men’s hands, wood and stone. So they have destroyed them. 19 Now, O LORD our God, I pray, deliver us from his hand that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You alone, O LORD, are God.”

32 ‘Therefore thus says the LORD concerning the king of Assyria, “He will not come to this city or shoot an arrow there; and he will not come before it with a shield or throw up a siege ramp against it. 33 By the way that he came, by the same he will return, and he shall not come to this city,”’ declares the LORD. 34 ‘For I will defend this city to save it for My own sake and for My servant David’s sake.’”

What happened when Desmond was on top of the escarpment?
(Note: The bullets stopped and it all went calm.)

What was it like when the men went over the ridge? What was fighting for that ridge like?

What did Desmond do before B company went over the ridge?

What ended up happening?
(Note: Not one man died on a ridge that constantly claimed entire companies.)

How do people treat this in the film and why do they treat it that way?
(Note: It is treated as a miracle because nobody could understand how, in a line of attacks that claimed countless lives, this attack ended without a single man killed.)

Do you believe that Desmond’s prayer could’ve actually saved the men? Why or why not?
(Note: It is hard to believe that God saved this one company because of one man’s prayer. At the same time the story does make you wonder.)

Do you pray before difficult situations?

Matthew 10:8
Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay.

Why didn’t Ralph Baker save the man who lost his legs?
(Note: There is a principle in medicine and especially in military medicine called triage. It is the idea that you save the least injured first so as to maximize the number of people helped. It is an important medical principle.)

What principle guided Desmond? Why did this principle guide him?
(Note: Desmond saved those who were hurt the worst, first. It was to save as many lives as possible.)

What do you think of this decision on Desmond’s part?
(Note: This is a tough question. Triage is very important, yet we are likely to be deeply moved by what Desmond did. How do we make sense of these conflicting moral intuitions?)

What was Desmond’s motto?
(Note: Where there is life, there is hope.)

What happened to the legless man Desmond saved?

Luke 14:26
“If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.

What was Desmond’s biggest temptation during the war?
(Note: He had a grenade near him and Japanese men who were very close that he could get the jump on before they took him and his men out.)

What dilemma was Desmond facing here?
(Note: Desmond was forced to choose between his pacifist convictions and protecting his men by any means necessary.)

Was it fair for Desmond to choose his principles over the risk to his friends?
(Note: Another tough question. At what point is Desmond sacrificing life to save life? He doesn’t seem aware that a sin of omission can be as great as a sinful act.)

What dilemma did his friends face not far away?
(Note: Whether to kill a friend to end his misery and save their own lives.)

What do you think of what they considered?
(Note: Situations like this may be beyond moral judgment. We cannot even see what the right thing is. We can only be thankful they survived without having to make that decision.)


Judges 7:12
Now the Midianites and the Amalekites and all the sons of the east were lying in the valley as numerous as locusts; and their camels were without number, as numerous as the sand on the seashore.

Psalm 91:1-10
 1 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress,
My God, in whom I trust!”
3 For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper
And from the deadly pestilence.
4 He will cover you with His pinions,
And under His wings you may seek refuge;
His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark.
 5 You will not be afraid of the terror by night,
Or of the arrow that flies by day;
6 Of the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
Or of the destruction that lays waste at noon.
7 A thousand may fall at your side
And ten thousand at your right hand,
But it shall not approach you.
8 You will only look on with your eyes
And see the recompense of the wicked.
9 or you have made the LORD, my refuge,
Even the Most High, your dwelling place.
10 No evil will befall you,
Nor will any plague come near your tent.

What was it like fighting the Japanese army on Okinawa?
(Note: They were like the Amalekites described in Judges, like locusts with wave after wave coming upon the men. It was terrible to see, apparently.)

What happened when the advance over the escarpment was stopped by the Japanese?
(Note: Most of the men were left over the ridge, injured.)

What was Desmond like through all of it?
(Note: He was calm, cool, and collected. He knew God was with him and that gave him peace and power.)

What did Sintola say about his conversation with Desmond?
(Note: He said he offered Desmond a gun and Desmond refused, and he saw in that moment at true hero.)

What did Desmond do on that ridge after the battle?
(Note: He began lowering men down one at a time over the ridge, saving countless lives.)

What does Desmond say God told him to do?
(Note: He says that God told him to use a knot he had stumbled onto by accident in basic training, with two loops. This allowed him to get the men over the side.)

What did the people tell Desmond as he was doing what he was doing? What did they call him?
(Note: They told him to stop and called him crazy.)

What were some of the miraculous elements during Desmond’s time up on the escarpment?
(Note: He was a small man so his ability to even lift the men over was amazing. His avoidance of the gunfire was even moreso, the Japanese guns jamming was miraculous, and his guts in facing the situation was perhaps the greatest miracle of all.)

What was Desmond’s prayer as he was up on the ridge?
(Note: “Oh God let me get just one more,”

What does this say about Desmond?
(Note: It shows that he was committed to this life, right here, right now. It reveals his commitment to saving the person in front of him.)

Why did he do what he did?
(Note: He knew any captured men would be tortured and he wasn’t going to let that happen.)

Do you believe it was God that protected Desmond?

What does Desmond say about why he did what he did? What guided him?

How did Desmond’s actions affect his fellow men?
(Note: These men had come to believe that God’s hand was on Desmond, and that they were in the presence of something very special. Desmond comes off as more than just a man, as an almost supernatural figure. They saw the Kingdom of God in him.)

Judges 4:4-10
4 Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, was judging Israel at that time. 5 She used to sit under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim; and the sons of Israel came up to her for judgment. 6 Now she sent and summoned Barak the son of Abinoam from Kedesh-naphtali, and said to him, “Behold, the LORD, the God of Israel, has commanded, ‘Go and march to Mount Tabor, and take with you ten thousand men from the sons of Naphtali and from the sons of Zebulun. 7 I will draw out to you Sisera, the commander of Jabin’s army, with his chariots and his many troops to the river Kishon, and I will give him into your hand.’” 8 Then Barak said to her, “If you will go with me, then I will go; but if you will not go with me, I will not go.” 9 She said, “I will surely go with you; nevertheless, the honor shall not be yours on the journey that you are about to take, for the LORD will sell Sisera into the hands of a woman.” Then Deborah arose and went with Barak to Kedesh. 10 Barak called Zebulun and Naphtali together to Kedesh, and ten thousand men went up with him; Deborah also went up with him.

Why did the men need Desmond to come with them on Operation Iceberg?
(Note: They felt safer with him on board, like they had God on their side. That boosted their morale and that is very useful in war.)

What did the officers who once tried to get Desmond thrown out of the army do for Desmond before Operation Iceberg?
(Note: He delayed the battle so Desmond had time to pray.)

Why did Desmond decide to fight on the Sabbath?
(Note: He knew doing good on the Sabbath was allowed, and he felt that God had let me know it was allowed. He did as God told him to, first and foremost.)

Why did the officer interviewed say that Desmond’s faith was important to his success?
(Note: Desmond was able to do much of what he could do because he believed in God. It made him confident and made him a better morale booster. It made him larger than life.)

Who did Desmond save during the battle?
(Note: He saved the commander who had tried to get him to take a gun earlier on.)

How did Desmond’s action change his commanders’ attitude towards him?
(Note: The commander saw Desmond’s value to the war effort. Even if Desmond didn’t want to win the war, he wanted to save lives, and that had value in itself. It also took real courage to be able to do it.)

What happened to Desmond during the battle?

Do you think this proves that Desmond was not touched by God, as previously thought?
(Note: This challenges the simplistic notion that because Desmond loved God he was protected.)

What did he do while he was injured? Can you imagine that?


Palm 119:139-141
39 My zeal has consumed me,
Because my adversaries have forgotten Your words.
140 Your word is very pure,
Therefore Your servant loves it.
141 I am small and despised,
Yet I do not forget Your precepts.

What loss concerns Desmond most after his extreme injury?

Why did it mean so much to him?
(Note: Desmond’s little Bible was like a doorway to God for him. Through it, he had God’s power to comfort him.)

What did the men do for Desmond?
(Note: They risked their life on the battlefield to find that Bible.)

What do you think of this?
(Note: It may seem crazy, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t right. Isn’t it amazing how religion reorients what you think is important? From the point of view of Desmond, it makes perfect sense.)

1 Corinthians 4:9-10
9 For, I think, God has exhibited us apostles last of all, as men condemned to death; because we have become a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men. 10 We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are prudent in Christ; we are weak, but you are strong; you are distinguished, but we are without honor.

Isaiah 53:8-12
8 By oppression and judgment He was taken away;
And as for His generation, who considered
That He was cut off out of the land of the living
For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due?
9 His grave was assigned with wicked men,
Yet He was with a rich man in His death,
Because He had done no violence,
Nor was there any deceit in His mouth.
 10 But the LORD was pleased
To crush Him, putting Him to grief;
If He would render Himself as a guilt offering,
He will see His offspring,
He will prolong His days,
And the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand.
11 As a result of the anguish of His soul,
He will see it and be satisfied;
By His knowledge the Righteous One,
My Servant, will justify the many,
As He will bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great,
And He will divide the booty with the strong;
Because He poured out Himself to death,
And was numbered with the transgressors;
Yet He Himself bore the sin of many,
And interceded for the transgressors.

What happened when Desmond came home?
(Note: He was greeted as a hero, and his legend grew to immense proportions.)

What was the ultimate irony in what Desmond did?
(Note: Desmond had risked all to save men who had treated him horribly.)

What did the men say about Desmond towards the end of the film?
(Note: They said he was a ‘wonderful nut’ the ‘bravest man’ a man of humility who changed their lives, and they were honored to have known him.)

What does it mean to say Desmond is a ‘wonderful nut’?
(Note: think about this in the context of the Corinthians passage. He was a fool for Christ, and so in his folly closer to the truth than anyone.)

Would you like to change lives like Desmond did?

What is the irony in Desmond getting the Medal of Honor?
(Note: The Medal is a combat medal, yet Desmond never fired a shot.)

Why do you think God would do this, bring a pacifist to the Medal of Honor?
(Note: God was raising up the least and making him the highest. In this act, the glory of God’s way could shine through like nowhere else.)

What did it mean to Desmond to get the Medal?

Psalm 68:19
19 Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears our burden,
The God who is our salvation.

What was everything that happened really about, for Desmond?

What happened to Desmond after the war?
(Note: Desmond went on to live a hard, tragic life.)

Again, how does this affect the view that God was with Desmond in a special way?
(Note: The real miracle was not what happened to Desmond, but the person Desmond became. That is the real testament to God’s present, more than any miracle.)

What does the narrator say about Desmond’s home?

What was the ultimate power Desmond got from his relationship with God?
(Note: Desmond was a man at peace who, simply through staying true to his faith, transformed the life of all around him. He bent reality around him, and shaped it into something new, and all without trying.)

How did Desmond’s receipt of the Medal of Honor differ from other recipients?
(Note: Others get the Medal for a single incident. Desmond had countless incidents that qualified him for the medal. To call that ‘amazing’ is an understatement.)

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