Jerry Woodfill

Not another space history? What more can be said about going to the Moon? Excellent PBS documentaries, numerous astronaut authored biographies, a pair of excellent Hollywood docu-dramas (THE RIGHT STUFF AND APOLLO 13), the Tom Hank's HBO series (FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON ), and less appreciated efforts such as the 1969 movie MAROONED wholly saturate any desire for still-another-one.

One could argue that each Apollo participant's experience could be a worthy space book. However, on this experience scale, the twelve moon-walkers rank at the top, followed closely by the additional 12 lunar-orbit astronauts. A descending author-order would have engineers, technicians and Apollo craftsmen as anchors, essential but not noteworthy.

If not another book or movie, how about other Apollo creative work which might transcend literature and cinema? What about art? The fourth man on the Moon, astronaut Allan Bean took his artistic gift into space. Years later, his perspective appeared on canvas, uniquely capturing lunar landscapes in a fashion no artist had done before. Bean's brush strokes, color selection, and extra-terrestrial compositions are in a class by themselves. HE HAD BEEN THERE!

Astronaut Bean's contribution is creative rather than scientific, astronomical, or technical. This is a compelling reason for NASA to include people with specific creative talents in one of the shuttle's seats. Novel perspectives might result for Earth benefit. Contributions from news correspondents, architects, authors, urban planners, and farmers could add significant value to space exploration.

The core idea is that benefits come from talented specialists making an orbital journey. Among civilian candidates offering fresh views are church ministers. However, the ever present church 'n state debate prohibits NASA, a government agency, from seeking astronaut applicants from the clergy, not that spiritual commentary is neglected by the men and women exploring space. Having First Amendment rights of free speech, American astronauts offered Bible readings and even prayers from space. Their Earth bound congregations numbered in the millions. Other space men and women testified of spiritual encounters on lunar firmament, stowed Bibles and even Christian tracts on board their respective spacecraft.

God has not been short-changed by American space explorers. I recall an astronaut friend requesting a hundred small fabric banners displaying the scripture: His banner over us is love. (Solomon 2:4) Having filled his personal preference kit to capacity, he improvised stowing the banners in his space suit boots. Here was a spaceman whose feet were literally shod with the Gospel, fulfilling, in space, the Apostle Paul's words: How beautiful are the feet of them... that bring...glad tidings of good things! (Romans 10:15)

Not only have NASA's astronauts expressed their faith in innovative fashion. A 1975 incident comes to mind. Some engineers at Johnson Space Center met with a contingent of Soviet counterparts. The occasion was the International Docking Mission planned for that year. An American Apollo Command Module would dock with the USSR's spacecraft. The NASA men planted Russian Bibles in their visitors' hotel rooms. The Bibles were absent from the rooms after the Soviets returned to the USSR.

Such testimonies are often found in Christian literature about American space exploration. Nevertheless, there is no Christian history devoted solely to this subject. What is meant by a Christian space history? In the New Testament, the Book of Acts would serve as a model. ACTS, the fifth New Testament book, is also known as the ACTS OF THE APOSTLES. The following characteristics of ACTS serve as guidelines for a space history with a Christian perspective:

  1. Acts is chronological, a timeline of Christian history beginning with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit as predicted by Jesus prior to His crucifixion and resurrection.
  2. The author, Luke, inspired by the Holy Spirit, describes physical events that exalt Christ. The author has a scientific background as a physician. He is a follower of Christ. As a first hand participant in many of the exploits, he knows many of the characters described in the narrative.
  3. The setting for the early Christian history is the secular framework of the first century. Each and every event is included from a mind of Christ viewpoint. (Phil. 2:5-9) "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus." Secular historians would choose significant political, economic, and international situations and conflicts. As a Christian history, Acts includes items significant to God's plans and purposes. Events that intersect with the Holy Spirit's purposes are included. For example, Luke, Acts' author, relates little of the history of the Roman Empire in chronicling the kingdom of God.
  4. Luke's treatise is macro and micro describing the enormous impact of Christ's followers to the uttermost parts of the Earth. Additionally, he describes micro incidents such as a lame beggar's healing at the temple gate.
  5. The author includes Christian doctrine and testimony. This convinces readers of the Gospel's truth as well as strengthens existing Christians by reminding them of God's work in the world. An example is the statement: ...for there is none other name (Jesus) under heaven...whereby we must be saved. (Acts 4:12)
  6. The whole story is told: the triumphs of faith in overcoming persecutions, ship-wrecks, and angry mobs as well as the tragedies of disunity, martyrdom, and false teaching.
  7. Luke emphasizes the supernatural character of God in chronicling events. The work of Satan is fully explained, identified and recorded. Likewise, manifestations of the Holy Spirit and His gifts are fully described.
  8. Similarly, this work hopes to achieve the characteristics listed above so that it might be titled: SPACE ACTS.

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