War. Who am I to comment on war? I have never seen war with my own eyes, I have never experienced my nation at war nor had my life on the line because of war. This I am thankful for. Many here in Australia are just like me. War is something we may see on the news or read about it the newspaper.
Where is God when the world is at war? Can God's presence be felt in a time of such hurt and destruction? By reading this autobiography, I not only discovered some raw truths about war, I also discovered that God is ever present amidst something even as destructive as war.
As a 16 year old Aussie boy, the author of Voice from the Stars, Tom Scotland, was faced with the very real possibility in 1939 that he would have to participate in war. What did that really mean to West Australian teenager? What would that mean for his future? Within 3 years of this first realisation, Tom found himself piloting his first air operation over enemy targets in Hungary.
Tom Scotland had had been selected to join what was known as the Pathfinders Force (PFF), who had the hugely difficult task of leading the bombing force across Europe at night, requiring close teamwork, precise navigation, and the will to carry on to mark out a target in the face of strong enemy opposition (Voice from the Stars, T. Scotland).
On Tom's first PFF air operation his plane took off down the runway behind another PFF crew, whose pilot was Tom's friend and fellow Australian. The other aircraft never returned to home base. And this was the first of a subsequent 61 air operations over enemy targets. Through Tom's autobiography he brings home the harsh reality war. "There were no farewells, only a cold hard sky offering silent reminder, this is war!" (Voice from the Stars, p.157)
Tom's book gives insight into the very real experience of a very young man in the middle of a World War, with his life daily placed in the hands of the enemy. Every single air operation required in-depth briefing. The crews did not know day to day when they would be flying, until a list was posted on the notice board the morning of their night time attack. This would then be followed by a detailed briefing session.
Tom describes how it felt to see their crew appear in the list. A feeling that affected a man right to his core. A feeling of not knowing whether, tonight, this pilot still in his youth, would fly his plane home from enemy ground.
But amidst the roar of the Halifax engine, the exploding shells of enemy gunfire and even the fearful thumps of his own heartbeat, Tom heard a voice. He heard the voice more than once. "The stars represented to me an imposing presence and I was comforted by them…all I knew was that a presence had spoken to me….a voice spoke saying, some power out there made all of this" (Voice from the Stars).
It was not until after he arrived back in Australia in 1945 that he began to realise what the voice had been. He was introduced to a Bible and as he explored it pages he heard that voice again saying "Come to me". The same voice offering him comfort and hope as he flew above German gunfire, was calling to him to respond.
When God speaks there is no denying His powerful presence. Almost 60 years on, Tom has spent his life touching 1000's of lives and leading many people back to their creator. He has and continues to speak hope into damaged lives and has brought restoration, healing and freedom through sharing the amazing love of Jesus Christ. God was near in the midst of war. God is near today.
It took Tom many years to be able to speak of his personal experiences in war and without His personal relationship with Jesus, this would have never happened.
Reading about one man's experience in World War 2 has opened my eyes so much more to the reality of war. The determination, the will to survive, the pain. I have come to sincerely appreciate what has been done so that we have the freedom we experience today.
I have also realised that in times of war, God is there. God spoke to a man. And this man has gone onto inspire and to bring hope to the lives of 1000's. All because of a Voice from the Stars. War is horrific. But God can use any time and any place to speak. Let's open our ears and hearts to His gentle yet powerful voice and seek His face despite the 'wars' going on around us.
Laura Veloso is a stay-at-home mum on the Central Coast of NSW with three little boys under the age of 5. Laura has done short term missions to Bangladesh.