Henry H. Funk is very grateful that Canada allowed Mennonites and other pacifists to do alternative service. He knows that pacifists in other countries were not as fortunate.
“We were very privileged to have been allowed to do this service in lieu of being in the military. In Hitler's Germany we would have been in the army or before a firing squad. I honour Canada . And I always felt that ours was a worthwhile, meaningful service to humanity and to our nation. It was wartime. There was a severe labour shortage. The regular staff whom we had replaced were mostly middle-aged men who had joined the Medical Corps and who were spending the war years looking after World War I patients in Deer Lodge Hospital in Winnipeg . Some, of course, will have been in active service. With due respect to them, I honestly feel positive about our role too.” [ASM, 138-153]
Waldo Lepp suggests one way to look at the war experience.
“I am well aware that many fellow countrymen gave their lives for the cause of freedom. After the war, I hoped that I too had contributed in some way to the good of my country and towards true spiritual freedom.”
“We must not omit thanking Mennonite and Brethren in Christ leaders for their efforts to provide Alternative Service for us. Special thanks to the ministers who came to encourage us and to the Canadian government for considering us and our faith.” [ASM, 298-299]
While many Mennonite COs are justifiably proud of their stance during the war, Ben Funk reminds them that they should remain humble. Not only is pacifism not unique to Mennonites, but it means so much more than not fighting.
“It seems to me that biblical non-resistance is a way of life, and does not mean only ‘do not carry arms'. I don't think the Mennonites discovered it; it was there all the time.” [MHC 1015-33]
Canadian COs are thankful for the freedom of conscience they enjoyed during the war. Peter A. Unger notes that Canada gave its COs the fairest treatment.
“Without apology, I acknowledge the privilege granted to COs in Canada by government authorities. We did not have to pay for the upkeep of our projects, as was the case with our fellow COs in the USA . In fact, we were paid $0.50 per day, some even $0.75 per day. While in the BCFS [British Columbia Forestry Service], we were issued logging boots and rain gear. I not only respect the authorities who made this possible but I honour them and our country, Canada.
“I am convinced that God used this experience for our good (Romans 8:28), where we let ourselves be molded by His Spirit.” [ASP, 196]
Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, who have been called according to His purpose.”
Conscientious objectors acknowledge that their pacifist stand would have been much harder in another country. For that reason, they thank Canada for making the alternative service work program possible.