Tadpole's Outdoor Blog

September 29, 2010

Alvin, you ain’t goin’ to amount to nuthin’ unless you change your ways and trust in God.

Filed under: Misc — Freddie Keel @ 9:32 pm

(I presented this devotional at the last meeting of the United Methodist Men – Hope you enjoy)

Alvin was born in 1887 to a hillbilly family in the Tennessee mountains.  He was the third of eleven children.  His dad worked as a blacksmith and as a logger to provide for his family.  His mom knitted all family clothing and struggled to keep enough food on the table for all the family.  The kids attended very little school as they were needed to work in the fields and harvest their own food.  The boys hunted to provide meat for the family.  Alvin was a good hunter with his stalking skills and became a dead-eye shot.

At age 24, Alvin’s dad died.  He was counted on to assist his mom in raising his younger brothers and sisters.  Alvin worked in railroad construction and as a logger. Alvin loved to drink and fight.  He spent lots of time in the local jails. His Godly mother tried to persuade Alvin to change his ways because she worried he would “amount to nothing unless he changed his ways and trusted God’’.  Alvin had his own agenda as he and his best friend wanted to prove they were the toughest.  His mother’s words went in one ear and out the other but her voice was lodged in his heart.

At age 27, his life changed as he and his best friend engaged in a fight with other saloon patrons during a night of heavy drinking. The incident resulted in his friend being beaten to death inside a saloon. The event was profound enough that Alvin followed his mother’s advice and stopped drinking alcohol. He was baptized as a born again Christian .

At age 29, Alvin registered for the draft as all men between 21 and 31 years of age. When he registered for the draft, he answered the question “Do you claim exemption from draft (specify grounds)?” by writing “Yes. Don’t Want To Fight.” His claim for conscientious objector status was denied.

Alvin enlisted in the United States Army as WWI was beginning. He continued to read his bible and study God’s Word.  He discussed his Biblical stance on war with his company commander and was convinced that warfare could be justified.

During an attack in France to secure German positions he recalled-“The Germans got us, and they got us right smart. They just stopped us dead in our tracks. Their machine guns were up there on the heights overlooking us and well hidden, and we couldn’t tell for certain where the terrible heavy fire was coming from… And I’m telling you they were shooting straight. Our boys just went down like the long grass before the mowing machine at home. Our attack just faded out… And there we were, lying down, about halfway across [the valley] and those German machine guns and big shells getting us hard.”

All of the commanding officers were killed so Alvin assumed command and led an attack with a few other soldiers on the German machine guns taking out 32 machine guns, killing 28 German soldiers and capturing 132 others.  He was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions.  Like most heroes, he shrugged it off and suggested anyone would have done the same thing.

Later he would remember thinking, “A higher power than man power guided and watched over me and told me what to do”.

After the war his story was published in the Saturday Evening Post.  Alvin refused many offers to profit from his fame, including thousands of dollars offered for appearances, newspaper articles, and movie rights to his life story. Companies wanted him to appear in advertisements or to pose with their products. He would lend his name to various charitable and civic causes.  He worked hard to develop his native area of Tennessee and wanted to build a Bible School.

Alvin had refused several times to authorize a film version of his life story. Finally, in 1940, as he was looking to finance an interdenominational Bible school, he yielded. In 1941, the movie Sergeant York with Gary Cooper in the title role told about his life and Medal of Honor action. The screenplay included much fictitious material though it was based on Alvin York’s Diary. It received 11 Oscar nominations and won two, including the Academy Award for Best Actor for Cooper. It was the highest-grossing picture of 1941. York’s earnings from the film, was about $150,000 in the first 2 years. Alvin eventually built part of his planned Bible school, which hosted 100 students until the late 1950s.  God was an important part of his life and he never failed to acknowledge his faith and the influence of his Godly mother as her words echoed through his soul, “Alvin, you ain’t going to amount nuthin’ unless you change your ways and trust God”.  Well he did and he did.

York died at the Veterans Hospital in Nashville, Tennessee, on September 2, 1964 and was buried at the Wolf River Cemetery in Pall Mall. His funeral sermon was delivered by Richard G. Humble, General Superintendent of the Churches of Christ in Christian Union.  Humble also preached Mrs. York’s funeral in 1984.

So the question is, can you be the Godly person that might lodge God’s Word in the heart of someone?

1 Comment »

  1. Neat story!

    Comment by Cindy — September 29, 2010 @ 9:51 pm | Reply

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