No, this article is not about the John Birch Society, that great educational and patriotic organization that has been exposing the enemies of constitutional government, and their despicable intrigues, in the U.S. for over 60 years, resulting in merciless attacks against it and unmitigated mendacities told about it, because THE ENEMIES OF OUR CONSTITUTIONAL LIBERTIES FEAR THE TRUTH—THEY FEAR THE EXPOSURE OF THEIR ANTI-AMERICAN, ANTI-CONSTITUTION MACHINATIONS, AND THEY FEAR THE WRATH OF A TOTALLY INFORMED AMERICAN PEOPLE! The real John Birch never knew the late Robert Welch, the American businessman and patriot who founded the JBS in December of 1958.We don’t know what the real John Birch would have thought of the Society that bears his name. General Jimmy Doolittle, who knew Birch well during WW11, but probably speaking from misinformation given to him, opined that Birch would not have approved of the JBS, but I’d like to think that the missionary and American patriot, Capt. John Birch, would have approved of it, and would have felt right at home within its ranks, just as his parents did, for they were life members. All patriots should feel equally at home within a patriotic organization that has as its motto: “Less government, more individual responsibility, and with God’s help, a better world”! How could ANY Christian or Patriot (hopefully both) feel uncomfortable belonging to such an honorable organization? (And YES, I’m a member of JBS).
For those of you who don’t know, there was a real man named John Birch (1918-1945). He became a Christian, a missionary to China, a member of the U.S. Army during WW11, and a truly brave patriot. Tragically, he also became the first American casualty of “the cold war” between the forces of totalitarianism (communism) and freedom, post WW11. I’m indebted to two articles regarding John Birch for information on his life: The first, titled John Birch: Fighting Missionary, was published by Christian History Institute in 2017, written by Don Haines. The second, titled For God and Country, was republished March 11, 2017 by The Christian Party, and written by Jane Ingraham. I’ve quoted freely from both publications while amplifying them with my own thoughts. I’ve also used some information from Wikipedia for historical background of Birch’s daring exploits in China during WW11, both before and after he joined the U.S. Army.
What impels a young man to embark on a life of missionary service to his LORD and Savior? Obviously Birch’s parents, George and Ethel Birch, themselves Presbyterian missionaries to Landour, India, where John was born in 1918, exerted great influence. After spending the first two years of John’s life near the Himalaya Mountains in India, the Birches returned to the States in 1920, eventually settling in Macon, Georgia, where their son was raised in a fundamentalist Baptist tradition. Upon his graduation from high school he entered a Baptist school, Mercer University, in Macon, and graduated magna cum laude in 1939.
As early as age 7 John first felt God’s call to the mission field after hearing about the suffering being endured by Christian missionaries in China. By the age of 12 he dedicated himself to God’s Call to become a missionary. After being graduated from Mercer, John enrolled in The Fundamental Baptist Bible Institute in Fort Worth, Texas, run by J. Frank Norris, where he completed the difficult course work in ONE year. John’s pastor at that time warned him of the possible dangers involved in mission work in occupied China, but Birch replied: “I know the enemy, but the Lord Jesus has called me. My life is in His hands, and I am not turning back.” He never did.
Upon completion of the curriculum at FBBI, 22–year-old John Birch was sent to Japanese occupied China by the World Fundamental Baptist Missionary Fellowship. As soon as he disembarked in occupied Shanghai in July, 1940, John began an intensive study of what is perhaps the world’s most difficult language: Mandarin Chinese. American missionaries were “tolerated” by the Japanese occupiers prior to their attack on Pearl Harbor in December of 1941, but just barely tolerated. Within several months, John’s mission board moved him to Hangzhou, a city also occupied by the Japanese invaders of China. In October of 1941 Birch was sent to Shangrao, in “free” or unoccupied China.
Birch preached God’s “Good News” during this time; it was a message that few in China had ever heard direct from the mouth of an American who was speaking their language. During this time, prior to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, John covered a lot of both occupied
and unoccupied China, giving the people Gospel tracts and Bibles, often having to dodge Japanese patrols who were suspicious of groups of Chinese gathering around westerners. Birch often dressed in native clothing, and ate the same food that the people ate. He took significant risks to serve his Savior in a dangerous land, and he soon came to love the Chinese people.
JOHN BIRCH’S TIES TO COL. JIMMY DOOLITTLE
I’ve written before about the famous and daring attack by Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle and his raiders, who launched a counter-strike upon five Japanese cities on April 18, 1942 from the aircraft carrier, USS Hornet. Of the 16 B-25 bombers that participated in that attack, all but one ran out of fuel over occupied China. (One crew managed to land in Soviet Russia, near Vladivostok, where they were interned by the Russians for a year before being smuggled into Iran with Russian help). Fifteen crews bailed out of their bombers, and landed in territory patrolled by Japanese soldiers. Three flyers were killed during bailout or by drowning in the sea. Two crews (10 flyers) were unaccounted for initially, and were captured by the Japanese; (three of them were eventually executed as “war criminals”). The other 62 American flyers were found and soon rescued by Chinese civilians, and were slowly and secretly smuggled out of Japanese occupied China. (The 1944 film, 30 Seconds Over Tokyo, tells their story very well, and was approved by the surviving raiders.)
Birch’s financial support from his mission board ceased when the war began, and he searched for other sources of income to enable him to continue his missionary activities. His military career began one day in the spring of 1942 in a restaurant in Chekiang Province. He was cautiously approached by a Chinese man who discretely asked him, “Are you an American?” John indicated he was. The man told John to follow him to a ‘sampan’ (a small boat) on a nearby river. Upon his
arrival Birch heard English being spoken inside the boat. Standing next
to the craft, John called out, “Are there Americans in there?” A voice from inside the sampan answered, “No Jap could have that Southern drawl.” John went aboard the boat, inside of which the Chinese had concealed several American flyers. We can imagine his surprise when he learned that one of those flyers hidden in that small boat was none other that Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle himself, that he and his crew had bailed out of their B-25 after bombing Tokyo, and had been rescued by Chinese patriots! This was the beginning of Birch’s patriotic “adventures” in war-torn China.
Next time: The amazing experiences of John Birch in China, as he assists many of the Doolittle raiders to reach safety, and ponders whether or not to join the U.S. Army. His work ultimately leads to a meeting with Gen. Claire Chennault, leader of the famous “Flying Tigers, who becomes almost a “second father” to Birch.