My personal opinion,” says Ben Reimer, ”of the whole experience is more of a privilege and blessing than hardship. Because of many different ways that others understood the Scriptures, we did some real searching and studying of Scriptures.” [TTbP, 97] Peter A. Unger writes that “I am convinced that God used this experience for our good (Romans 8:28 ), where we let ourselves be molded by His Spirit. Many church leaders and workers in our contemporary churches come out of Alternative Service. This was my experience and I praise Him for it.” [ASP, 196]
George Groening lists four ways in which he was personally transformed by his experience as a CO.
- “I was taken out of the comfort zone of home and church. I had to face the hardships of life which ultimately helped me mature and prepare for future service.
- I was thrust into ministering to my peers in camp. We had to help in the spiritual ministry in the camp where the church could not do it. I found the opportunity to teach, preach, counsel and help give leadership; all of these helped me in later life.
- It taught me an appreciation for our Native people.
- It prepared me to become a teacher and later a pastor. It prepared me for future leadership in the church, conference and work at Columbia Bible College.”
“I view these years as having been very useful for future ministry. They enriched my life and helped prepare me for my future.” [ASP, 99]
A common theme in CO stories is the faithfulness of God. For the young men who left their communities to be COs, it was an act of obedience to God. This was Peter Neufeld's experience.
“The stand that we as COs took was a positive experience in our personal lives and a testimony to our fellow Canadians. It prevented a strong anti-Mennonite feeling by the general public.
“In looking back to the years 1939-1945, I am thankful for the Lord's wonderful leading in my life. He sustained me then as a young pacifist and guided me in my desire to be a peaceable person.
“We should strive to be peacemakers, not only in times of conflict and war, but also in our daily walk with the people that we live and work with.
“It is a duty and a privilege in time of war to build when others destroy, to heal when others kill. There is no greater force in all the world than the power of Christian love.” [ASM, 62]