Real Heroes for Real Men
Our sons’ modern heroes tend to be some guy on YouTube, a sports celebrity, or a popular musician. But are these men worthy of hero status? If you were choosing, would you choose these men? Let’s take a look at a few real heroes for real men.
The 20th century alone has provided many outstanding men for our sons to emulate. Unfortunately some of the best are not a natural part of “social studies” curriculum. While a typical history of the 20th century focuses on wars, economics, and culture, it often overlooks the men who swam against the tide and stood for what was right, despite the cost. World changers are usually not part of popular culture. But they should be.
Sargent Alvin York
York was a young Tennessean who had become a Christian as a young man. When he was drafted into the U.S. Army to serve in the first World War, he became a conciencous objector (he refused to take a life). This status was denied, and he was shipped to France in 1918. What followed was a series of heroic moves that earned him the Medal of Honor for wiping out a German machine-gun nest.
You can read his autobiography (which I highly recommend — he was a humble, backwoods mountain boy and it makes for very entertaining reading!), watch the old Gary Cooper movie about his life.
|Sergeant York and the Great War
By My Father’s World
Sergeant York and the Great War is Sergeant Alvin C. York’s reminisces of his childhood growing up in rural Tennessee along with his war-time journal of his time spent serving in the Army during the first World War (with his original grammar and spelling left intact). A chronology of his life are also included. Photos and details have been added to enhance the study of World War I for young students. 209 pages, softcover.
He was a priest and theologian who saw the dangers of Hitler and the Nazi party. Bonhoeffer became openly outspoken against Hitler and urged the church in Germany to resist becoming one with the Nazis.
|Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy, softcover
By Eric Metaxas / Thomas Nelson
A gripping story of moral courage in the face of unspeakable evil! This groundbreaking biography details previously unknown facts about Bonhoeffer’s life—including his decision to return to Germany and his romance—and documents the role he played as a double agent in the plot against Hitler. Revised and updated edition features a new introduction by Metaxas. 640 pages, softcover from Nelson.
He wrote an excellent book entitled The Cost of Discipleship, which is amazingly applicable to the church today. Eric Metaxis has also written a wonderful biography of Bonhoeffer that every Christian should read.
|The Cost of Discipleship
By Dietrich Bonhoeffer / Touchstone
The Cost of Discipleship compels the reader to face himself and God in any situation. Bonhoeffer speaks of “Cheap Grace”: preaching forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, communion without confession. “Cheap Grace” is grace without discipleship. “Costly Grace” is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock. “It’s costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life.”
There is a new major motion picture about his life coming soon. In the meantime, there are multiple documentaries available on Prime video and Youtube:
Jim Elliot and Nate Saint risked their lives to take the gospel of Jesus Christ to the primitive Indian tribes in Ecuador. You can read a short version of their story at Christianity Today, but I highly recommend Elizabeth Elliot’s book Shadow of the Almighty: The Life and Testament of Jim Elliot.
|Shadow of the Almighty: The Life and Testament of Jim Elliot
By Elisabeth Elliot / Hendrickson Publishers
“Elliot’s account is more than inspirational reading; it belongs to the very heartbeat of evangelical witness,”—Christianity Today. Offering one of the great missionary biographies of the 20th century, Elliot draws extensively on her husband’s letters and diaries to recount how he and four others were killed by Ecuador’s Huaorani (Aucu) tribe in 1956. 351 pages, hardcover.
You might also be interested in reading the story of Nate Saint by his son Steve, in Jungle Pilot: The Story of Nate Saint.
|Jungle Pilot: The Story of Nate Saint, Martyred Missionary to Ecuador
By Russell Hitt / Discovery House
Even after 60 years, the account of missionary pilot Nate Saint and his four friends martyred in Ecuador by the Auca tribe remains an inspiration. Not only is the story itself an edge-of-your-seat adventure, but Saint’s life story also grips readers and compels them to consider how they can live fully abandoned to God.
You can watch Through Gates of Splendor on Amazone Prime Video, a personal video narrated by Elizabeth Elliot. There is also a Torchlighters movie about Jim Elliot for kids.
|Torchlighters: Jim Elliot Story [Video Download]
By Vision Video
This young preacher from North Carolina would go on to spend his life preaching the gospel and would be responsible for the salvation of thousands of souls. The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association has a documentary on YouTube:
And a YouTube search of his sermons will keep you busy for HOURS. His autobiography is available here:
|Billy Graham: A Biography of America’s Greatest Evangelist
By W. Terry Whalin / Morgan James Publishing
Richard Wurmbrand swam against the tide of Communism in Romania, and was imprisoned and tortured for doing so. He and his wife are the founders of Voice of the Martyrs. He tells his amazing story in Tortured for Christ.
|Tortured for Christ
By Richard Wurmbrand / Magdalene Press
A timeless and best-selling account of courage, faith, endurance, and shocking forgiveness that continues to encourage Christians around the world! Wurmbrand documents how he met secretly with other Romanian believers for worship, took great risks to evangelize occupying Russian soldiers, and was imprisoned and tortured for 14 years as a result of his obedient witness. 171 pages, softcover.
You can see a documentary about Wurmbrand on YouTube:
As Christians, we live in difficult times. There is so much encouragement and inspiration to be found in the true stories of the men who have gone before us. Elizabeth Elliot said, “There is nothing like the biographies of great Christians to give us perspective and help us to keep spiritual balance.” How true!
What great heroes would you add to this list? Share in the comments below!
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