“Take courage! It is I. Do not be afraid.”

Currently on exhibition at the Museum of New Zealand (Te Papa Museum), Wellington, are giant wax figures of real men and women who served during the horrific Gallipoli military campaign in the First World War that took place on the Gallipoli peninsula (Gelibolu in modern Turkey), from 17 February 1915 to 9 January 1916. The displays include war machines meant to maim and kill on one hand, and bunkers and every day survival kit meant to protect life to the maximum on the other hand. The exhibition tells of the heroic New Zealanders who had to endure the unimaginable conditions at Gallipoli.

In an incredible story of survival, a Maori soldier, Private Hone Tahitahi, was thrown unconscious to the ground when a Turkish bullet hit him on the chest. At the point of impact, however, was a prayer book, presumably in Private Tahitahi’s shirt pocket. The prayer book is on display at the museum.

Picture of the Maori prayer book taken by the author on 22 August 2022 at the Te Papa Museum, Wellington, NZ

One can clearly see the bullet hole at the bottom right-hand corner. The bullet had gone through the prayer book at the page quoting Jesus’ words of encouragement in the biblical verse Matthew 14:27: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” The description of the display is as follows:

This prayer book saved the life of Private Hone Tahitahi literally. It stopped a Turkish bullet in its tracks. Tahitahi was struck above the chest and knocked unconscious. The bullet rested under this verse. ‘Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.'”

Matthew 14:27 reads: But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” In context, Jesus was reassuring His disciples, who were perturbed with fear when they saw Him walking on water.

GreekEnglishValue
Εὐθὺς
euthys
Immediately1014
δὲ
de
now9
ἐλάλησεν
elalēsen
spoke329
««ὁ
ho
70
Ἰησοῦς» ⇔
Iēsous
Jesus888
αὐτοῖς
autois
to them,981
λέγων
legōn
saying,888
Θαρσεῖτε,
Tharseite
Take courage!630
ἐγώ
egō
I808
εἰμι·
eimi
it is,65
μὴ
not48
φοβεῖσθε.
phobeisthe
fear.801
Values of the Greek words

The value of “Take courage! It is I. Do not be afraid.” is (630+808+65+48+801=2352). The Carmichael λ Function of 2352 is precisely 168, which is the identifier of the Lord’s Prayer in the Gospel of Luke.

We can hypothesize that since the book is a prayer book, it is must surely contain the Lord’s Prayer. Whether Private Tahitahi actually prayed the Lord’s Prayer when the bullet hit him, we will never know since the soldier had long passed on. But we can be certain that the soldier was very much afraid.

CONCLUSION. When we are afraid, it is sufficient to pray the Lord’s Prayer.

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