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According to a Swedish newspaper, he was one of the U.S. Air Force’s eight most wanted fugitives. After living under an assumed name for the last 28 years David Hemler, a deserter from the U.S. Air Force, has finally broken cover, admitting his real identity and making contact with his family in the United States. He has been living secretly in Sweden since 1984, and has a wife and three children and a job with a Swedish government agency.

He deserted at the age of 21 while serving with the U.S. Air Force in Germany. “I never planned on not telling the truth in the beginning. I intended to come to Sweden until I felt better, I expected a week or so,” Hemler said in a newspaper video. He missed his parents after he deserted, but after having his first child he hadn’t wanted to be separated from her.

It was four weeks ago that he finally made contact with his family in the United States, speaking first to his brother Thomas, who said, “I heard immediately it was David, even if he had a strange European accent after all these years.” His family were reported to be overwhelmed to hear he was still alive. David’s future now depends on the reaction of the U.S. and Swedish authorities.

There are many parents whose child has gone missing, and are longing for that phone call to tell them their son or daughter is still alive. Jesus told a story about a young man, who asked for his share of his father’s estate, while his father was still alive. He then took it and went abroad where he spent it all on parties and wild living. When the money had gone, he got a low-paid job feeding pigs. He was starving and began to think of his family home, where even the servants were better off than him. He decided to bury his pride and return. “‘I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ So he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.” (Luke 15:18-24)

And the moral of the story? Well, the father represents God, and of course the son represents you and me. God is waiting with open arms to welcome all who realise they can’t make it on their own, who admit they’ve blown it; you included. No matter what we’ve done, no matter where we’ve been, His love for us never fails. All we need to do is turn to Him.

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A question of love

Asian bride

Thousands of young brides and grooms stepped out of buses and entered the stadium. Many of them barely knew their future spouse, having only spent a week or two getting acquainted. In fact a few of them were only matched days before their wedding, a mass-wedding in the hills of South Korea presided over by Rev. Sun Myung Moon. This unusual spectacle was featured in a UK Channel 4 documentary, Married to the Moonies, which followed three young Londoners as they travelled to Korea to marry the international fiance(e)s chosen for them. The Unification Church, or ‘the Moonies’ as they are sometimes known, has often been called a cult because of their devotion to a charismatic leader, who changes the interpretation of ancient scripture and suggests that he is “The Lord of The Second Advent”, who has come to finish what Jesus failed to do.

In fact Jesus Himself said, ““Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many.” Instead Jesus promised that His return would be unmistakable: “all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory.” (Matthew 24:30) Jesus also taught that before His return “many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” (Matthew 24:4-5,10-13)

If “the love of most will grow cold,” how long will the love of those married by Rev. Sun Myung Moon last? Hopefully for a lifetime – marriage and family are the building blocks of a stable society, but just a quick glance at our world today is enough to confirm the truth of Jesus’ prophecy. Although there are many individuals and organisations who show great love and care to others, we live in the midst of a violent world. This week’s events in Syria are a graphic and tragic illustration. Also, human trafficking is rife, causing suffering to countless women and children around the globe. There is increasing pressure in the UK to allow doctors to kill sick or elderly patients in the same way that they are legally able to kill unborn children. Some in our world take home massive salaries while others exist or starve on less than a dollar a day. Will we let our love grow cold as Jesus suggested, or will we be those who overflow with love for God and for others? Whether we influence the world or just our local community, our practical love shown to someone in need can make a world of difference, and not by declaring ourself to be someone great, but by humbling ourself as Jesus did, and honouring and serving our fellow man and woman.