Pitfalls Along a Vietnamese Road

sharp bamboo

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Ron Capelli

I attended a youth fireside at someone's home back around 1984 where the youth leaders were talking about dating standards. As the fireside went on, each leader got up and basically took a “hell fire and damnation" approach, telling the youth how wrong it was not to follow the standards of the church and the consequence it could lead to.

As I looked around the room, it appeared to me that the youth weren't paying too much attention and seemed a little put off by the tone of the meeting. Then, to my surprise, one of the leaders suddenly said,

"And now Brother Cappelli is going to talk to you about this."

The invitation to speak was totally unexpected. As I stood up, my mind was in a swirl trying to figure out what to say, especially after my disillusionment with the way the meeting was going. Since I consider myself to be a storyteller, off the top of my head this is what I said (in brief). I asked them if they ever heard of the Viet Nam war. Most of them did, but knew very little about it. Then I proceeded to describe how the Viet Cong waged their war against the Americans by making tunnels underground where they would hide from our soldiers.

From above ground they couldn't be seen, so our soldiers would unsuspecting walk right past these hideouts without knowing the VC were there. After our soldiers had gone by, the VC would pop out of their tunnels, fire a burst of automatic rifle fire into the backs of our men and then duck back down into the tunnel. When the remaining American soldiers turned around to fire back, they couldn't see anyone.

Another one of the tricks the Viet Cong used was to dig a deep pit in the middle of a well used path through the jungle that out soldier traveled. Or they would lay a similar trap in the jungle in the hopes of enticing our soldiers to chase after them and stumble into it. Here's how the pit worked.  They would cut bamboo shoots into very sharp pointed spears and stick them in the ground at the bottom of the pit with the sharp end pointing up. Next they would cover the hole so that it was almost impossible to notice it, but the weight of a person would cause him to break through the covering and fall down into the pit and on top of the spikes.

Often times the tips of the spears were coated with some form of poison. (I have a tendency to act out my stories, so by this time I had the rapt attention of every youth in that room as I slinked around and through them pretending to be the VC. I have to admit, I was pretty dramatic.) Then I said,

"Satan works just like the Viet Cong. He hides in the dark where you can't see him. And when you least expect it, he pops into your life and tries to attack you from the rear. He lays traps for you to fall into that are designed to destroy your life. The reason the leaders of the church set guide lines for dating is not because they don't want you to have fun.

They have developed these standards because they love you. For decades, they have seen first hand the horror stories of young men and women just like you who have had their lives ruined because of Satan's deceptive tricks and they've asked themselves, "How can we protect our youth from this kind of misery?"

The Standards of Youth is your survival guide. It was written by the Generals of the Church to you, the young warriors who live and fight in the jungle of life. Satan's whole goal is to destroy you.  Please, don't think you are smarter than him. Follow the standards. They are there for your protection and future happiness."

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