Exactly one century ago, on June 28, 1914, the Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in Sarajevo. Austria retaliated on July 28 by declaring war on Serbia. World War I lasted four years, from 1914- 1918 and the material devastation and number of lives lost is hardly fathomable.

World War I was called "The war to end all wars," yet the disastrous consequences of World War II exceeded those of the first World War by far. There were an estimated 10 million military and 7 million civilian deaths in the First World War, but the second World War claimed 22-25 million military and 38-55 million civilian lives, a total of 60-85 million. Material devastation was many times greater due to the emergence of more sophisticated and powerful weapons.

The second world war began March 11, 1938 (I was three days old), only twenty years after the conclusion of the First war. The Austrian-born Chancellor of Germany, Adolf Hitler, rode triumphantly into his homeland and the city of his birth, Braunau, announcing to millions of cheering Austrians that the German people were once again a united nation. The annexation of Austria was forbidden under the peace agreements of 1919.

We lived and worked nearly four decades in Austria and grew to love the people and country. It seems inconceivable to me that both World Wars began with Austria, yet it is a fact of history that can not be erased.

People who know me well call me an incurable optimist. At age 15, I bought a Model T Ford for $30. The former owner rubbed his hands in delight at getting that much money for a piece of junk. I restored the car and sold it for 10 times what I paid. It is probably still being admired at classic car shows 60 years later. I got my drivers license in 1955 and bought a wrecked 1946 Ford convertible from a junkyard for $50. The V8 engine and other parts had been stripped and sold. When I towed it home, a neighbor who was knowledgeable and experienced in repairing cars, told me that I was nuts. A few months later, the car was pictured in a Car Magazine. I worked in an art gallery restoring paintings and spent most of my life working with kids that society had given up on. In retirement, I repair and restore small sailboats that others discard as irreparable.

Considering all these optimistic efforts, how could I be making such a pessimistic and terrifying statement? Am I nuts? I will let readers decide and time will show who is right. I am not the type of guy to gloat "I told you so!" I will be in tears when it happens if I am still alive, for I am convinced that the deaths and destruction caused by the next World War will be much greater than the first two World Wars combined.

Consider the following facts:
1) The world's military potential dwarfs that of WW II. They measure it's potential for destruction with vocabulary like "overkills." Only one nation had nuclear capacity towards the end of WW II. Today there are ten. America and Russia alone have over 15,000 known nuclear warheads. Because WW II was the last time nuclear weaponry was used in battle, no one can estimate the possible damage a nuclear war could inflict. Nor is there any way to forecast the devastating effects of chemical and cyber warfare, but these too will definitely be used in a third world war.

2) Many nations will be involved and their only choice in the matter will be to decide on which side to fight. Most nations will choose the side they believe will win. Very few will choose the side that they think is the proper moral choice. Switzerland may choose to follow its historical tradition and attempt to remain neutral. Such a choice will be very chancy in a third world war. It assumes that the good guys will win and be nice to those who remained neutral.

3) What about the United States? After the First World War broke out, the German federation was able to celebrate victory after victory for nearly four years. Only after German submarines began sinking American merchant ships in 1918, did America finally get involved in World War I.

After Hitler's annexation of Austria, he began to systematically destroy the Jews and build his Third Reich (empire). The United States watched events in Europe from a safe distance for three years. Canada declared war on Germany in 1939, but the United States became involved in World War II only after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941.

4) When our boys fought in two World Wars, people back home stood behind them in any way possible. Each victory on the battlefield was a victory for those back home, and every loss of life touched the lives and hearts of all Americans. There are war memorials in most larger American towns, honoring those who gave their lives. Today. however, there is little empathy for members of the military among the younger generations. Those under 50 have little knowledge or understanding of what war is like.

The USA has been involved in a number of wars and peace-keeping operations since WWII, but most of these ended miserably. Our military often had orders not to win and the situation in many of the countries where our men died is hardly better today. The recent "purging" of high ranking military officers who question presidential decrees or who don't show absolute allegiance to the Commander in Chief is alarming. Military service is now voluntary and many soldiers enlist rather than serve time in prison for various criminal and domestic offences. America relies heavily on high tech which is vulnerable to EMPs and cyber attacks. In a third world war, we will be forced to use our nuclear arsenal for survival.

If you study US history, you learn about the American Revolution and Civil War. These events are important but war is not what made America the greatest nation on earth.

American history is the story of men and women who were determined to build a nation where citizens could live and worship in freedom from despotism. The colonists wanted a government that could not dictate a citizen's religious beliefs. Nearly every school and university was founded upon biblical principles and designed to provide an education that included Christian values. They sought an environment that permitted people with differing religious beliefs and political positions to live peaceably with each other, but all agreed that the ten commandments and teachings of Christ should provide the basis for this peaceful co-existence. The founding documents and even the wars fought on American soil had these goals clearly in mind.

A gifted and hard-working team of construction workers may labor for a year to build a magnificent house that is admired by all. But any kid with a match can destroy it in a few minutes. If a kid burns a house down, it's front page news but few builders make the headlines.

Ralph V Harvey, June 28, 2014

I wrote the above blog for the 100th anniversary of WW I. The following is a reminder for followers of Christ.

America has a mighty arsenal of weapons capable of destroying the world by several "overkills", plus well-trained troops who know how to use all that war machinery. But America's most valuable resource and greatest power-potential is not its power to destroy the world but rather its power to "win" it. The large number of American men and women who have placed their personal faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ represent our nation’s greatest power potential. What an opportunity for world missions! The power of the gospel is a constructive, winning power and not a destructive one.

Jesus did not come to destroy, but rather to save (Luke 9:56). We may claim to be orthodox, evangelical, fundamental or Bible-believing Christians, but lives will not be changed unless we heed our Commander in Chief, Jesus Christ, who sends us to share the gospel with all people, even into the “uttermost parts of the earth."

We are called to be the "salt of the earth." God has promised us, “My word shall not return unto me void.” Jesus is the "light of the world", but so are we! The feeble, flickering flame of a tiny candle is powerful enough to penetrate at least a cubic mile of darkness. Scientists have not discovered a way to make ice resistant to salt’s melting power. Christians may believe these scientific facts, yet many seem to have lost confidence in the power of the gospel to transform evil men and women into good Christians. Jesus instructed his disciples, "Go into the highways and byways and compel them to come in!" But instead of making missionaries and evangelists of our youth, we hire a Youth Director to create entertaining programs that keep the kids off the streets. We are more concerned about protecting our youth from the bad guys than equipping them to win others to Christ. Jesus sent out his disciples as "lambs among wolves." The lambs win, but only if they are obedient!

I am disturbed by many people’s attitude toward missions today. Not a few view missions as "meddling in other people's business." They accuse missionaries of "destroying unique native cultural forms." The devil is certainly working feverishly to corrupt youth and destroy culture, not missionaries! The media, Hollywood, politicians, big business and even the mafia use every means at their disposal to gain power over or take advantage of people. Their goal is profit, colonialism, exploitation and dictatorship, but the gospel of Jesus Christ makes men and women truly free (John 8:36).

Most Christians are familiar with the various passages collectively known as "the great commission," but Jesus stated it best when he said, "Just as the Father hath sent me, so send I you." Jesus stated his purpose in coming to earth quite clearly: He “came to seek and to save that which is lost." His instructions to followers are to do likewise.