Integrity, loyalty, resourcefulness and self-sacrifice for a worthy cause are exceedingly rare in our age. There is a need today for men and women with these qualities people who can carry "a message to Garcia."
IT WAS 1898 — just weeks before the Spanish-American War. The War Department wanted to get in touch with General Calixto Garcia y Iniguez, leader of the Cuban insurgents. Colonel Arthur Wagner summoned a first lieutenant in the Ninth Infantry and a West Point graduate, Andrew Summers Rowan. His instructions were oral. Rowan's assignment: find Garcia, learn the strength of the insurrectionist forces, what supplies they needed, Garcia's plan of campaign, the morale of his followers, and whether he would cooperate with an American army.
Rowan sailed to Kingston, Jamaica, establishing secret contacts with exiled Cuban patriots. From there he took a fishing boat to Cuba. A Spanish patrol boat stopped and inspected their vessel, but Rowan, carefully hidden, escaped detection. At a remote point on Oriente Bay, Cuban guides were waiting and received Rowan. Then for six days they trekked through the steaming jungle, plagued by intense heat, barbarous insects, putrid water and numerous Spanish patrols. Despite the extraordinary hardship, Rowan finally met General Garcia, learned of his desperate need for artillery, ammunition and rifles, and his desire for American help. After barely six hours of rest, Rowan and a few companions plunged again into the thickly overgrown jungle to reach the north coast. They traveled only at night to escape detection by swarming Spanish patrols. They sailed from the coast in a tiny three-man boat with gunnysack sails, barely eluded several Spanish patrol boats, and suffered a severe storm before finally landing at Nassau in the Bahamas. Rowan's perilous journey was widely reported in the American press. He was promoted to captain for his valor and courage in executing his dangerous mission. Twenty-four years later the United States remembered his valorous mission and awarded him the Distinguished Service Cross.
"A Message to Garcia"
In the meantime, Rowan's escapades so stirred philosopher Elbert Hubbard in 1899 that he wrote an article entitled "A Message to Garcia," congratulating Rowan for his heroism, gallantry, enterprise, resourcefulness and loyalty. It was soon being translated into other languages. During the war between Russia and Japan, every Russian soldier was given a copy to read. Finding copies on the bodies of dead Russian soldiers, the Japanese had it translated into their language. Within the space of sixteen years, over forty million copies of "A Message to Garcia" were printed. It has been translated into every major language! Why did Hubbard's article have such an impact? There are many reasons: for one, Rowan's exploits caught the popular fancy because it was the account of an uncommon man who accepted his difficult assignment and fulfilled it successfully in spite of extreme odds and seemingly insurmountable difficulty. Rowan never asked, "Who is Garcia?" "Where is he?" "How do I get to him?" "Why choose me?" "Why can't someone else do it?" "What's in it for me?" Rowan simply took the job — and accomplished his mission. Elbert Hubbard, the "sage of East Aurora," concluded in his article: "Civilization is one long, anxious search for just such individuals. Anything such a man asks shall be granted.... The world cries out for such: he is needed and needed badly — the man who can 'Carry a Message to Garcia.'"
The Urgent Need Now
Such people are very rare in the world today! The world needs men and women who are loyal, who act promptly, who have a sense of responsibility and deep commitment, who are motivated, resourceful, persevering and DILIGENT. In our modern self-seeking, lackadaisical society — where slipshod service, dishonesty in business, and competitive clawing and scratching to "get ahead" are rampant signs of decay — such qualities as Rowan displayed are becoming increasingly hard to find. Rowan was willing to risk his life to accomplish a perilous mission, with no thought of glory, reward or recognition. He sweated through steaming jungles, hacked his way through vine-covered paths, and kept on going past countless dangers to life and limb. What about you? Are you striving to become such a person? Are you really going "all out" in service to God?
How to Be a Success
Rowan followed several of the laws of success which Mr. Herbert Armstrong has since described. He had a GOAL — he knew what his mission was. I t was vivid before him. He never lost sight of it, or allowed it to become muddled or nebulous. When it comes to keeping your eyes on the goal of God's Kingdom and completing God's Work, how easily are you distracted — perhaps by bright lights, glittering temptations — or discouraged perhaps by an insult, a casual remark, an apparent injustice or inequity? Rowan was educated — trained as a military officer. He knew how to accomplish his task. He was an excellent soldier and knew his job. And, of course, he was in tip-top health. Andrew Rowan also had the ingredient called DRIVE! He was zealous in carrying out his assignment. He toiled and labored to accomplish his objective, without wondering if he would ever be honored or recognized — simply because he loved his country, his native land. He allowed no obstacle or series of problems to stand in his way. Absolutely nothing was allowed to prevent him from accomplishing his mission. Are you willing to labor as Rowan did, and drive yourself, to accomplish the Work of God?
Rowan Had Resourcefulness
He figured out ways to overcome all obstacles in order to complete his mission. He wasn't daunted by impenetrable jungle growth, inaccessible mountains, poisonous snakes, miserable mosquitoes, polluted water, or Spanish patrol boats. He disappeared into the jungle and came out three weeks later on the other side of the island, having successfully traversed a hostile land on foot to fulfill his assignment. In living your spiritual life, and overcoming sin, do you use resourcefulness to find a way to succeed? Far too many people, when problems surround them, stop "dead in their tracks" — paralyzed into a state of inactivity. When unexpected problems arise, many people "cave in" and say, "I didn't bargain for this!" They exclaim in bitterness, "You didn't tell me about this specific problem. I've had it — I quit!" What are your reactions when such problems arise? Rowan also had tenacity of purpose — the sixth law of success. He PERSEVERED until the mission was accomplished and his task fully carried out. He had character. He knew that "when the going gets tough, the tough get going." He never quit, regardless of the threat to his life. With aching muscles and numb senses, he pulled himself through to final success by sheer determination and grit. How much tenacity of purpose — determination to succeed — perseverance in the face of inestimable odds — do you exhibit! When the spiritual fighting gets rough — when the world batters and smashes you — when things seem to blow up in your face, even •though you've done your best — is that when you call it quits, give up, throw in the towel and cry, "I'm finished — it's no use — I quit"? Rowan, of course, did not fully understand the seventh law of success — divine guidance and contact with God. But as a member of God's Church, with His Spirit within you, you have God's promise of additional help through every trial, every obstacle. Are you maintaining that spiritual contact daily, replenishing God's Spirit through earnest prayer and regular Bible study?
"Sunshine patriots" and "fair-weather sailors" are a dime a dozen. Many are willing to be Christians when times are good, when being a Christian is easy. But God expects more from His people. He has called us to be strong soldiers — spiritual warriors — mighty men and women of spiritual valor. The Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy: "Thou therefore ENDURE HARDNESS as a good soldier of Jesus Christ" (II Tim. 2:3). He added: "No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier" (verse 4). A good soldier obeys orders. A soldier, when he is on the front line or a member of a patrol searching for an enemy bunker, isn't thinking of "how to get ahead," or how to make "captain" or "sergeant," etc. His main concerns are simply how to do the job! As spiritual soldiers, we need to have the same attitude. Our only way to attain our objective, spiritually, is to fight the good fight — not turning our backs to the enemy, making ourselves easy targets. Soldiers work together as a unit. Each works as a part of a team. Each one does not "do his own thing" without regard for anyone else. Can you imagine how effective a military unit would be if half the men were attacking an enemy bunker and half were retreating? If each one of us would look upon our self as a literal soldier out on the front lines for Jesus Christ and the Work of God, we wouldn't bog down in petty complaints, vain comparisons, selfish ambitions, seeking after carnal rewards, vain glory, our own pleasure or material wealth. Paul encouraged Timothy: "Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life" (I Tim. 6:12). That requires vigorous effort. We cannot be timid, listless, "tired" soldiers. We must attack our spiritual objectives with all-out effort. The Christian life can also be compared to a wrestling match, where your strength is pitted against that of your opponents (the world, your own human nature, and the wiles of Satan the devil). In order to win over these adversaries, you must go all out, pull out all the stops — keep up your guard, be on the alert, and be aggressive. Don't let the enemy demoralize you, or "psyche you out" with his propaganda. You must resist the devil with every fiber of your being, straining against sin! In our age of idleness, lethargy and ease, everybody is concerned about self — his own material welfare. And if we are not super-careful, even we in God's Church can become inoculated with the world's attitude!
Our Prime Example
Jesus Christ set us the example. It was written of Him: "For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin" (Heb. 12:3-4). The Apostle Peter exhorts: "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: whom RESIST steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world" (I Pet. 5:8-9). The natural temptation is to get our mind off the enemy and his tactics and on to ourselves. Satan would like nothing better than to get us worried, thinking about our own lives, and get our mind off the captain of our faith, Jesus Christ, and the Kingdom of God. That's why James wrote also: "Resist the devil, and he will flee from you" James 4:7). Are you putting up resistance? Or are you a spiritual noodle — a pushover — a marshmallow?
The Tenacity of Jacob
When it came to determination our forefather Jacob was a real winner. After a long night of wrestling until daybreak with the One who became Christ (Gen. 32:24), who was testing Jacob to see if he had real character, Jacob still would not give up. When daybreak came, Christ said, "Let me go." But Jacob only panted, "I will not let you go, except you bless me" (verse 26). Was Jacob being disrespectful? No, not at all. He knew that God was testing his mettle to see if he would endure adversity. When Jacob passed the test, Christ then told him: "Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel [that is, prevailer, overcomer, ruler or champion with God]: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast PREVAILED" (verse 28). God names people what they are, for names have great meaning with Him. Jacob was one who prevailed — who fought till he got the victory. He endured to the end — never letting go even though he was in great pain as a result of his hip being out of joint (verse 25). That's why he was a conqueror, a champion, and why God changed his name. Brethren, in order for us to receive God's blessing, we too must strive, prevail, endure and fight the good fight, never giving up or letting go of the promises God has given to each of us. Jesus Christ commanded, "STRIVE to enter in at the strait gate..." (Luke 13:23). The original word used here is agonizomai in the Greek and means to struggle, to compete for a prize, to contend with an adversary — to fight, labor fervently, strive, to agonize! That's the kind of effort needed to be a champion — one who PREVAILS! There are some who grow weary with the fight. Some may start out to carry "a message to Garcia," but soon drop by the wayside due to "battle fatigue." Even seasoned veterans sometimes grow battle weary and give up. Unaccustomed to the self-discipline necessary to be a loyal soldier, all too many lack the tenacity and stick-to-itiveness that is necessary to be a winner and CONQUEROR.
Carry the Message!
In his widely published article, Elbert Hubbard wrote: "It is not book learning young men need, or instruction about this and that, but a stiffening of the vertebrae which will cause them to be loyal to a trust, to act promptly, concentrate their energies: do the thing — 'Carry a message to Garcia.'" Brethren, we have a "message for Garcia"! But our message is from God. We are charged with the commission of getting that message — the good news of His coming Kingdom — to all the world as a witness. If any people should be loyal to a trust, be willing and able to act promptly and to concentrate their energies on fulfilling an assigned task — if any people should "carry a message to Garcia," we should be that people! Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong, during his many years of experience, discovered long ago that the members who really grow spiritually are the ones who put their whole hearts into God's Work! Those who put this Work first in their lives are also the ones who endure to the end (Matt. 6:33). But those who put themselves first sooner or later fall by the wayside — becoming spiritual "casualties," losing out on the victory ahead. Rowan demonstrated stedfast, loyal character when given an assignment to go find a particular general. How much more should we demonstrate loyalty, faithfulness, dependability, dedication, determination, and resourcefulness in performing our part in carrying God's message of eternal salvation to the entire world!
Christ and Our Message
Jesus Christ came with a message, the true gospel. He carried the message faithfully, resourcefully, zealously. He fulfilled God's Work. He said, "I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day" John 9:4). He declared, "My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to FINISH HIS WORK" John 4:34). Of Jesus it was written, "The ZEAL of thine house hath eaten me up" John 2:17). Jesus was wrapped up in a cause, a work, a mission He regarded as greater than Himself. His paramount concern was the Work of God. He was willing to give His own life to accomplish that Work! Why was Jesus willing to go all the way? The answer is simple. Jesus had vision. He saw the end result. His eyes were not taken off the supreme goal by physical distractions or temptations of this temporary earthly life. His eyes and mind were focused on the overview. He foresaw that through His sacrifice billions of sons of God would someday exist in the family of God, ruling over the entire universe. Jesus never faltered. He was a "soldier" willing to give His life that billions might be saved from the eternal death due for their sins. Jesus sacrificed Himself That's the kind of spiritual soldier He was. Are you — today — living your life as a veritable "living sacrifice" for Jesus, counting this world's attractions as so much dung that you may enter God's Kingdom? Or, have personal problems or temptations distracted you from the supreme goal of life, or from carrying out your part in God's Work? Have financial considerations, sensual pleasures, family problems gotten your mind's eye off the Kingdom of God? Do petty grievances — even if they do seem valid — cause you to stumble and falter as you do your part in God's Work? Has vanity and ego led you to think you're too important for the job God has given you in His Church and Work? Have you begun to lose the view that God has called us to be humble, to get rid of self-esteem, and to serve Him as Jesus Christ set us the example?
Are You a Fighter?
You can be a valiant spiritual "man of war" — a good soldier — through the indwelling POWER and MIGHT of God's Holy Spirit (Isa. 11:2; II Tim. 1:7). You can pull down strongholds, put the enemy to flight, be made spiritually strong out of human weakness (Heb. 11:32-34). All the valiant men of God in the Bible had human weaknesses. They were far from perfect. They sinned. They became discouraged. They made mistakes. At times they even had attitude problems, felt "carnal," rebellious, stepped on, offended, hurt or angered. David, Moses, Abraham, Jeremiah, Jonah — they all had problems they had to overcome. Notice Gideon's example, briefly. Gideon had to be convinced through miracles that God was really with him. But the angel of the Lord still declared, "Thou mighty man of valor" Judges 6:12). He and 300 men, by the power of God, put to flight an army which in numbers was like an all-devouring plague of grasshoppers Judges 7:12, 21-22). God uses human instruments, brethren. All biblical history attests to that fact. And God has called and chosen you as a human servant. You are His instrument, today, to do your part in His Work, even as Gideon was His instrument over 3,000 years ago! Your part in God's Work is needed. Your prayers are important. Your diligence and faithfulness, as a loyal member of the Church of God, as a spiritual soldier of Jesus Christ, will make a difference. Will you carry a spiritual "message to Garcia"? Don't ask "Why me?" "Can't George do it instead?" "Why does this need to be done?" "Is there any hurry?" "What difference does it make?" Be a loyal and responsible servant of God. Be a resourceful and enterprising, courageous soldier of Jesus Christ. Carry "a message to Garcia"!