His Parting Gift
It was during the Cold War in a place where the temperature was often brutally cold. The place was the Cape Newenham Air Force Station on a remote Alaskan coast of the Bering Sea. Sergeant Sammie Morris, Sr. and a crew of about 110 men of the United States Air Force operated an early warning radar site and a communications link. Their base was located in the mouth of an inactive volcano, and the radar was mounted up on the rim of the crater. It often experienced near hurricane force winds kicked up by winter storms. Men on rotating shifts rode an open cable tram from the base up to the rim to operate and maintain the radar. Conditions were often brutal due to the biting cold, the bellowing winds, and the blanketing snow.
There were few outdoor activities during off time, besides fishing for salmon and dodging sea lions on the warmest summer days, which still required heavy jackets with fur-lined hoods. Sgt. Morris often filled his down time by reading his Bible. This made an impression on the fellow members of his squadron.
Sgt. Morris completed his assignment at Cape Newenham AFS at the end of 18 months. As a parting gift of appreciation, several men gave him a new Bible. Many of them signed the front leaf of the Bible. They had observed that his Bible had been his constant companion during some very difficult days, and his men wanted him to have a new one to continue with him.
That same Bible was buried with Master Sergeant Sammie Morris, Sr. yesterday. He passed away on October 29, 2017, at the age of 95. This very special copy of his constant companion accompanied his body to the grave.
Sammie Morris, Sr.’s parting gift to his family and friends is a legacy of not only reading and studying the Bible but also living it out in his life. He was “a doer of the Word and not a hearer only” (James 1:22); he was a Christian. His life reflected the admonition of James chapter 1:
“Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves… He who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.” – James 1:21-22, 25
This Word is able to save YOUR soul when it is appropriated and applied to YOUR life, for the Word tells of God’s love in giving His Son Jesus to die on the cross for our sins so that we can have forgiveness of our sins and receive the gift of eternal life (John 3:16; Romans 6:23; Ephesians 1:7).
The Word will save our souls when we follow the Word by placing our faith and trust in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), turning from our sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confessing Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10), and being baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of our sins (Acts 2:38). Then, as we continue to walk in the light of His Word, the blood of Jesus will continue to cleanse us from sin (1 John 1:7-9).
Won’t YOU receive through your trusting obedience the implanted Word which is to save YOUR soul?
-- Sammie Morris, Jr. and David A. Sargent
* In Loving Memory of Sammie Ray Morris, Sr., until we meet again. December 12, 1921 – October 29, 2017
David A. Sargent, Minister