How God Saved My Lift: The Testimony of James Lipke. As told to the Editor.
I was born on September 17, 1947 in Lakewood, Ohio and born again ten years later on Sunday night July 9, 1958. It was through the preaching of the gospel by my father, James D. Lipke at West Side Gospel Hall in Cleveland, Ohio that I came to know the Lord. Asking my sister Lynn, the question, “How do you know you are saved,” she responded “You will know.” That night around 9:00 PM I was saved from my sin and I knew it without a doubt through the testimony of God’s Word. I was saved spiritually, but little did I realize, that God’s protecting hand would also save me from physical death many times afterwards.
As a young adult, I enlisted in the Navy attempting to enter the electronics field. Instead, I was made a hospital corpsman. We were given vaccines for tetanus, typhoid, typhus, yellow fever, cholera, smallpox, Hong Kong flu, and Gamma globulin. After graduating from Hospital Corps School, a year later in October, 1966, I became an Orthopedic Technician. Along with some other colleagues, we volunteered for Viet Nam and were sent to the FMF Fleet Marine Force at Camp Pendleton in February, 1969. That same month, I was permanently attached to the Marine Corps and upon graduation flew to the combat zone in Viet Nam. Little did I realize what would lie ahead.
While on a mission on February 24, 1969, we landed our helicopter on the top of a mountain. While attempting to walk on the landing ramp of the copter, I slipped on one of the ball bearings. My feet flew up and had it not been for the quick actions of the gunnery sergeant who grabbed me by my flak jacket behind my neck, I would have surely plummeted to my death over the edge of a 1000 ft. cliff. God saved my life through that gunnery sergeant.
On another occasion, we had been tasked with digging our own personal foxhole in a time of combat. It was six feet long by three feet wide, by five feet deep. As I was watching mortars falling from the sky, the gunnery sergeant yelled out “incoming” and grabbing me, pushed me down into my hole, saving my life from flying shrapnel. The Lord had again preserved my life.
One night, while searching in the blackness of night for a latrine, a nearby marine called out “halt, who goes there?” When I responded that I was looking for a latrine, he answered, “Turn around, 180 degrees. You are about to walk over a 1000-foot cliff!” God had saved my life yet again.
Once when on patrol, I hit an enemy trip wire that ran across the trail that we were walking on. I had purchased boots with three-inch treads to prevent sharpened punji sticks from piercing our boots. These punji sticks could cause very serious injury to a soldier’s foot if stepped on. Because my boot treads were so thick, they collected heavy mud. Due to the thick mud on top of these treads, I snapped the trip wire of a booby trap that I thought I had stepped over. This explosive device was constructed of a grenade inside of a soup can, nailed to a tree. When I hit the wire, the grenade flew right past my head, landing next to me. I expected the grenade to explode but it didn’t. Seconds passed but nothing. When it did not explode, the sergeant yelled out, “the grenade is a dud!” God had saved my life again.
There were other times that God preserved me in battle. When we thought we would die of thirst, the clouds that had prevented the copters from landing, miraculously opened up to allow them to drop water supplies to us.
Later in a major firefight, I helped to carry wounded soldiers aboard a helicopter, but it suddenly took off, forcing me to jump to the ground amidst sand boiling with bullets from Viet Cong gunfire, yet none of the bullets hit me. I was spared again by the hand of the Lord.
However, I was later injured from flying shrapnel when I was hit on my left shoulder and right left leg, when enemy troops ambushed our patrol in the A-Shau valley under a triple canopy jungle. I was medivacked to a hospital where I was treated for my wounds. Later, I was flown to Quang Tri where I became very sick with Plasmodium Falciparum Malaria. I was then flown to the USS Repose and then later that month to Japan. I recovered and was awarded the Purple Heart in August of 1969. When I was diagnosed with a rare disease (G6PD), I was prevented from returning to combat.
After military service I studied Biology at the University of California at San Diego (UCSD), studied creation science at the Institute of Creation Research (ICR), and worked for the city of San Diego first as a tech in the chemistry department, then later as an Information Systems Analyst in the City Clerk’s office.
I was saved once when I was born-again, but saved many times from death (at least ten times) through the Lord’s gracious protection. Not only is He my Savior and Defender, but He is also my Provider – past, present, and future – and is now preparing a place for me in the New Jerusalem.
God saved Jim’s life many times, but the greatest salvation that happened is when he was delivered from so great a death (2 Cor. 1:10) with a so great salvation (Heb. 2:3). Maybe God has preserved your life physically so that you can come to Christ today, and find new life – spiritual life – in Him (Jn. 10:10).