RIDGECREST — Retired Lt. Col. Oliver North served 22 years
in the Marine Corps, receiving the Silver Star for combat service during the
Vietnam War, along with the Bronze Star for valor and two Purple Hearts for
combat wounds. President Ronald Reagan described him as “an American hero.”
North, however, told motorcycle enthusiasts at the 2009
Rally to Ridgecrest that he met Jesus Christ in 1978 “after a life of
self-centeredness, thinking I was God’s gift to the Marine Corps and that all
the medals and accolades made me a greater man.”
North, now a best-selling author, syndicated columnist and
host of “War Stories With Oliver North” on the Fox News Channel, recounted how,
when he was a cocky Marine officer, his commanding officer, Lt. Col. John
Southy Grinalds, modeled for him the servant leadership of Christ. And Grinalds
challenged North to examine the Scriptures, which led to his conversion.
“I would not know Jesus Christ as my personal Savior if I
hadn’t had someone intentionally share with me,” North told 600-plus attendees
at the motorcycle rally held over Memorial Day weekend at LifeWay Ridgecrest
Conference Center near Asheville.
North encouraged the crowd to be intentional about sharing their
faith and living like Christ.
Describing members of the military as heroes, North said
what sets heroes apart as they face danger and uncertainty is that “they have a
profound, focused sense of mission.”
“Many people get up each day and don’t have a sense of
mission,” he said, noting that Christians should daily be inspired to the
mission of spreading the message of God’s sacrifice and salvation.
Each person has the opportunity to inspire others through
leadership, North said, explaining, “If you have an affinity and a passion for
something — such as motorcycles — you can be a leader and have that sense of
mission,” he said.
To have a sense of mission as a Christian calls for
proclaiming the truth “in a culture that doesn’t know the truth” and often — as
North said is the case with his colleagues in the media — reject truth.
A true sense of mission requires believers to use the truth
to encourage others who are struggling, just as the Apostle Paul encouraged
believers to “put on the full armor of God” for spiritual battle, North said.
To have a sense of mission requires believers “to walk the
talk,” North said, adding that “faithfulness is a way of life” that the world
“How are you representing Jesus to the world?” he asked.
“For most people, the only Jesus they will ever see is the Jesus they see in
Christians have the confidence of “knowing where we’re going
and how we’re getting there,” North said. “Every prayer I utter, whether it’s
on the battlefield or a Senate hearing, I know He will be faithful to me. I
know where I’m going and how I’m getting there.
“You could be the person who shows (Christ to the
unbeliever) through your words and life,” he challenged. “You don’t have to be
a great preacher; you just have to be faithful.”
North said that had Grinalds “not been someone who walked
the walk, I wouldn’t have followed. I came to understand what was really
important in life … all because there was a person who was a leader in my
Earlier in the day on Sunday, May 24, North spoke at a
wreath-laying ceremony at the nearby veterans’ cemetery, an annual part of the
A true hero is not the fantasy personification often seen on
television, he said, but one who is selfless.
“No nation has ever had a military force greater than the
United States of America has today,” North said. “They appreciate the prayers
of a grateful people.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE — Rankin is a writer in Franklin, Tenn.)