Talking Point – May 2023

Walking with Jesus forever

ON 16 JULY 1969, the Apollo 11 space flight began and history was made four days later when the first humans landed on the Moon. Charlie Duke was the voice on the radio talking to the Apollo 11 crew during landing. A few years later, he walked on the Moon himself as part of Apollo 16. If you were alive when man first walked on the Moon on 20 July 1969, chances are this moment is forever etched in your memory. Charlie Duke remembers the events vividly.
Charlie Duke was the CAPCOM astronaut for that Apollo 11 mission entrusted with communicating with Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin during the actual landing on the lunar surface, and he could hardly breathe in those final minutes. The mission was in real danger of aborting, and Duke was the sole communication link from Mission Control to the astronauts hovering over the Moon. They were so close; the Moon’s surface was in view. But the area was too rocky, and more fuel was needed to blast the lunar module to a smoother spot. “The gas was very critical,” Duke said. “I called 60 seconds left, then I called 30 seconds. And we still weren’t landing. We were 17 seconds from a call to abort.“
“Tension was mounting at Mission Control, as you can imagine,” he said. “I heard ‘Contact engine stop.’ And we knew they were on the ground. A few seconds later, Neil transmitted, ‘Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.’”
Duke said, “We were holding our breath,” which may explain his response at Mission Control, one of the most memorable voice bites from anyone associated with the space programme. “Roger, Tranquility, we copy you on the ground. You’ve got a bunch of guys about to turn blue. We’re breathing again. Thanks a lot.”
At that point in his life, Duke thought nothing would top it. He was wrong. Three years later, he became the tenth – and youngest person ever – to walk on the Moon. Still, he was wrong. The best was yet to come. Six years later, he encountered and entered into a relationship with Jesus.
“Walking on the Moon was three days,” he said. “But walking with Jesus is forever.” He walked on the Moon on 16 April 1972 for a record 71 hours and 14 minutes. It then took Duke six full years to the day from his walk on the Moon to when he started walking with the Lord. He later commented, “God delivered me from anger, unforgiveness, just everything that was wrong. It was dramatic. He saved our marriage. Not one promise of God has failed us.”
Let me encourage you to put your trust firmly in a faithful God who helps us to navigate this path of life and will never fail us. His promise of John, Chapter 10, verse 10 is that He helps us to enjoy the fullness of life now, and this is a promise that transcends death into eternity! Charlie Duke’s discovery was very true – when we walk with Jesus it is forever!

by Keith Saynor, Pastor, Grace Church Caversham