In 1968, Admiral Elmo Zumwalt, Jr., took command of the American naval forces in Vietnam. In an effort to reduce U.S. casualties, he ordered the waterways sprayed with the chemical defoliant Agent Orange. It was a move designed to push back the jungle and make it harder for North Vietnamese to ambush Navy river patrol boats at pointblank range. One of those boats was commanded by 21-year-old Lt. Elmo Zumwalt III. The tragedy and irony of the story is that today he suffers from an unusually fatal form of lymph cancer that both father and son believe was caused by his exposure to Agent Orange. Theirs is the heartbreaking story of a father who made a decision that unintentionally resulted in great suffering for his own son. Yet they both agree that it was the right one.
The Trail of a Right Choice
...but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Joshua 24:15
A young man by the name of James Taylor had lived a worldly life, and was a leader in opposing a revival that had swept his neighborhood. The morning of his wedding day he awoke with the words of Joshua 24:15 on his mind. In earlier years he had memorized that verse. Unlike our modern customs, he put in a full days work before his wedding that evening. As he went about his labors, the Holy Spirit convicted his heart, and he accepted Jesus as his Savior. He said, “Yes, we will serve the Lord!” At first his bride was dismayed by this decision, but she soon became a believer, and a Christian home was established.
You say, “Whats so unusual about that story?” Well, that young man was the great-grandfather of J. Hudson Taylor, founder of the China Inland Mission, now called the Overseas Missionary Fellowship. Nor has the influence of that first decision been without present-day consequences. The newly appointed general director of that organization is the great-grandson of the founder.
Though saving faith cannot be transmitted from parents to children, God does use the holy influence of fathers and mothers upon their offspring and upon successive generations. What if James Taylor hadnt yielded to Christ? What if his decision had been different? It is possible that a company of dedicated missionaries would not be serving in the Orient now under an organization whose founding was a direct result of that mans conversion.
The trail of a right choice in your home may lead to great blessings many years down the road.- P.R.V.
Parents, remember you bear Christs dear name,
Your lives are for children to view;
You are living examplestheyll praise you or blame,
And measure the Savior by you.
A child may not inherit his fathers talent, but he will absorb his values.