Strength for Service


U.S. troops fighting in Iraq today are using tools and technology that soldiers in past wars might have only imagined. But there are still some old-fashioned needs for those in combat, not the least of which is spiritual sustenance. A young man in California has ideas about helping in that regard – helping by the book.


A million soldiers carried this daily devotional during World War II, and Evan Hunsberger would like to see it used by a million more.

Evan Hunsberger: “What I’m asking is maybe everybody raise enough money to buy a single book.”

The California teen wants every U.S. service person to have a copy of Strength for Service to God and Country. The United Methodist Church, which originally published the text, has committed to raising a total of $3 million to make that happen.

Larry Coppock / United Methodist Men: “This is a resource that has the potential to impact so many people in a spiritual way.”

Evan: “It can be presented to the servicemen, firefighters or policemen or somebody like that.”

Evan chose to update the text as part of an Eagle Scout project and to honor a family member.

Evan: “Originally, my grandfather carried this book during World War II and the Korean conflict.”

Evan’s grandfather, Eugene, was a Navy corpsman who often read from the pocket-sized prayer book to console dying soldiers.

Evan: “…and give them some comfort in their last hours.”

The book went out of print soon after World War II, but not out of his grandfather’s life.

Evan: “He pretty much carried it his entire life.”

Evan spent three years gathering 40 additional passages from women, people of color and non-Christian faiths—none of which were included in the original version. The Department of Defense has OK’d the distribution of the books, once funds are raised to print the many copies needed in these unsettling times.

Evan: “My only regret about this is it’s going to people that are in harm’s way. But this is something that the people who are in harm’s way need to have.”


Evan’s grandfather thought it was a great idea that Evan was working on the updated book— although Eugene Hunsberger did not live to see the project completed. Soldiers in Vietnam did not have access to the devotional since it had gone out of print by then.

Posted: April 9, 2003