[by Earl Blacklock] Imagine a spy who, trained by the British Intelligence Service, could emerge from capture and captivity by the Gestapo crippled but unbroken in spirit and faith. A man whose reported exploits made one reviewer say that, compared to him, all other spy tales were about rank amateurs.
You don’t need to imagine it. You can simply read the book “The Man Who Wouldn’t Talk” by noted war correspondent Quentin Reynolds (available on Amazon). The book is about George DuPre, a British-trained spy who parachuted into occupied France to help shot down RAF fliers and the resistance in the guise of a half-witted Frenchman.
DuPre’s tale was one of heroism, thrilling exploits, and then, after his capture, indomitable faith in God as he suffered torture and privation. It captured the imagination of millions looking for a hero. The book flew off the shelf. The November 1953 Reader’s Digest ran a condensation of the story.
And it was all based on a lie. Multiple lies, really. George DuPre was never in France. He was never a prisoner. He had never endured unspeakable, crippling torture. He was, in fact, an ordinary soldier, not a spy for British Intelligence. James Bond he was not.
How did a man deceive a hard-bitten war correspondent, a famous publishing house, and the Reader’s Digest with such a fraudulent tale? In its defence, the Digest explained simply that “It was a masterful yarn.” For his part, Reynolds ruefully said “It looks like I’ve written my first novel.”
The most interesting part of the entire story was DuPre’s own motivation for making up, in great detail, such a fraudulent tale. He had not profited from its telling – before the book was even written he asked that his share of the royalties be given to the Boy Scouts. He didn’t require affirmation – he was a successful advisor to a Minister of the Crown in the Government of Alberta. He did not seek fame – it was others who approached him to allow his story to be told after hearing him at one of the dozens of church, Scout, and business meetings which asked him to speak.
DuPre explained he was motivated by a desire to show that “no man can survive without faith in God”. He said, “The story may not have been true, but the message is the truest thing in the world.”
Except it’s really not. God doesn’t require the embellishment of His people to demonstrate His love and goodness to the world. DuPre’s story emphasized God’s sustaining power, but that is a message that was as true for George DuPre as for anyone else. He didn’t need to be someone he was not. He was already a unique creation of God, with a formidable intellect and abilities.
In Malachi 2:6, God said of Levi “He taught what was true; sinful words were not found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and integrity, and he turned many people away from sin.” We should follow his example.