Lessons from battlefield

At Liberty Baptist Church, a winner of Medal of Honor tells congregants what he learned in Vietnam.Gary Beikirch earned a Congressional Medal of Honor after being shot three times on April 1, 1970, while serving in the military during the Vietnam War.

On Sunday, he told the congregation at Liberty Baptist Church in Newport Beach that he found God as a result of that experience, and he explained the lessons he had learned.

Being gravely wounded, he said, taught him that life is not always what it seems.

Prior to that experience, he had achieved the goals he set for himself and thought he had it made. But then he realized some things -- such as a love and close relationships -- are more significant than success.

Beikirch explained that what happens in you is more important than what happens to you.

"I began to realize that everything inside me couldn't keep me from dying," he said. "Everything that I thought was going to help me failed.... The success I had achieved could not help me out in death."

Beikirch told the congregation it's important to be reverent toward things in life you don't understand.

"Don't ever allow yourself to be deceived into thinking that God is not there with you," Beikirch said, explaining that he truly found God when he was facing death, lying in that hospital bed so many years ago.

One member of the congregation, Anaheim resident Jim Wagner, said Beikirch is an amazing man with much to teach anyone who listens to him.

Martha Tatar-Allen of Costa Mesa also said Beikirch had a great deal of wisdom to offer.

"It's impossible to give that testimony about what happens inside you until you go through it," she said. "What he went through is a revival in his heart. He can now say that 'I know that God is in control of my life.'"

* LINDSAY SANDHAM is the news assistant. She can be reached at (714) 966-4625 or lindsay.sandham@latimes.com.

20051107ipk494knKENT TREPTOW / DAILY PILOT(LA)Gary Beikirch, a recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor for his wartime service in Vietnam, shares his thoughts with congregants at Liberty Baptist Church on Sunday.

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