“Welcome to our liberators!” The signs with that message were everywhere on that day in 1995 as my wife and I drove through villages in France’s beautiful Normandy region.
The year before, June 6, 1994, had been the 50th anniversary of the D-Day invasions by the Allies against the Nazis. Twelve months before, my wife and I, Ronald Reagan and other world leaders had driven through the little towns, and so had many of the former soldiers who had risked their lives on that day a half-century earlier.
Many people worldwide were not yet born when the invasion occurred, or, like me, they were alive, but too young to remember. However, in 1994 many were still alive who had celebrated that invasion. They had not forgotten and painted the greetings welcoming their “liberators” on the sides and roofs of barns and old houses, and anywhere else there was space for the message. The welcome was intended above all for the old soldiers who were the most honored guests that day — even more than celebrities and national leaders.
The paint on the barns, houses, shops, and outbuildings now is gone, but not the passion, as my wife and I have discovered on each of our five trips to the Normandy beaches and battlefields.
On one of those journeys, we took a couple of those old soldiers with us. I lost sight of one of them, who had watched the ship ahead of his landing craft torpedoed and sunk, with the loss of all hands. I found him at a monument at the Omaha Beach cemetery bearing the names of those sailors. He was standing there, laying on his hands as if to bless each one, as tears streamed down his face.
On another of our Normandy visits, one of our granddaughters, a Marine sergeant, accompanied us. I had the immense joy of descending the bluffs overlooking Omaha Beach with her, then walking that sacred ground as she contemplated the immense suffering, and also the victories.
I have been particularly blessed by what I call the “D-Day Gospel.” The Apostle Paul, through the Holy Spirit, tells us in Romans 1 that “the things that are made” provide an understanding of God’s work in the finite world. That especially refers to natural creation, but the Holy Spirit also reveals much through time and historical events — like D-Day.
For example, the Jews and others languishing in Nazi concentration camps in 1944 did not know that at 6:30 a.m., Normandy time, “H-Hour” had been reached and the landings were underway. They did not know their liberators had come. As they suffered through another day of beatings, work, and death, the Allied troops were already advancing on the grim world they inhabited.
So it is that the “H-Hour” for the world’s Liberator has come, but many labor on under bondage because the announcement hasn’t made its way to them, or having heard it, they deemed it to be too good to be true, and so they lived as if the Incarnation – invasion had not come into the landscapes of finite time.
Hitler was also in the dark at H-Hour, June 6, 1944 — if not physically, then certainly spiritually and emotionally. The Nazi monster did not know it at that moment, but it was all over for him the moment the first Allied boot slammed onto the Normandy beach.
It would take months for the flesh-and-blood effects of the invasion to reach the heart of Berlin and the bunker where Hitler’s body lay dead by his own hand.
So, when the heartbeat of the Messiah, and the onset of His humanity took sound and shape in the Virgin Mary, the invasion had come, and it was over for the prince of darkness. However, as with the Nazi soldiers, Satan would resist and fight on. The Allies had to advance mile by mile, village by village, town by town, city by city, nation by nation, taking their victory into each place the evil one had seized or been given occupancy.
So, it is now: we must take victory into every stronghold of darkness. The path from the first appearance of Christ, the cross, the empty tomb, and His invasion of the world stretches back 2,000 years. The battle will continue until the trumpet of victory sounds at Christ’s second coming.
We are living and ministering in a hard period, and struggle to get the Gospel into every place. Our battle is not against flesh and blood, but the spiritual forces of wickedness. We war in an age when the prince of darkness and his forces fight back with fury. There is widespread apostasy, the collapse of once-mighty Christian institutions, weariness, and discouragement.
However, we must remember the D-Day Gospel of good news: Christ has come, the invasion of love, joy, and peace through Christ is underway. The manifest victory will come incrementally and at the cost of blood and tears. But what the “Gospel of D-Day” tells us is to proclaim the Lord’s coming and advance the liberating might of the Invasion of Christ and Heaven into every place, and not stop until He comes and His Kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy reigns everywhere.
Wallace B. Henley is a former pastor, daily newspaper editor, White House and Congressional aide. He served 18 years as a teaching pastor at Houston's Second Baptist Church. Henley is author or co-author of more than 25 books, including God and Churchill, co-authored with Sir Winston Churchill's great grandson, Jonathan Sandys. Henley's latest book is Who will rule the coming 'gods'? The looming spiritual crisis of artificial intelligence.