Man first walked on the moon 50 years ago

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 6, 2019

I remember watching live news coverage on our family’s black and white TV screen when astronaut Neil Armstrong climbed down the ladder of the lunar module and put his left foot on the moon.

Reportedly, more than half a billion people watched on television on July 20, 1969, as Armstrong said these famous words, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”    

Astronaut Buzz Aldrin set foot on the moon fifteen minutes after Armstrong.  They explored the lunar surface for two and a half hours, collecting samples of rocks, as well as taking photographs.

They left behind an American flag and a plaque that read, “Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the moon.  July 1969 A.D.  We came in peace for all mankind.”  Over the next three and a half years, ten astronauts followed in their footsteps.

Before the Apollo 11 mission to the moon, Buzz Aldrin began thinking of a way to “express our feeling that what man was doing in this mission transcended electronics and computers and rockets,” according to a news article on anniversary of man walking on the moon.

Aldrin, a church elder at Webster Presbyterian Church in Webster, Texas, talked to his pastor.  The news article reported that Aldrin took a tiny silver chalice with a sip of wine and a piece of communion bread aboard Apollo 11 in the personal items each astronaut is allowed.

After the lunar module, the Eagle, had landed and Armstrong had stepped on the moon, Aldrin asked NASA’s Houston control for a few moments of silence.  Then, he poured the wine into the chalice and silently read a scripture he had handwritten on a piece of paper, “And Jesus said, ‘I am the vine, you are the branches.  Whoever remains in me, and I in him, will bear much fruit; for you can do nothing without me.’” (John 15:5)

And, “When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained, What is man that You are mindful of him, And the son of man that You visit him?” (Psalm 8:3-4)

Aldrin later said, “I gave thanks for the intelligence and spirit that had brought two young pilots to the Sea of Tranquility.  It was interesting for me to think the very first liquid ever poured on the moon, and the very first food eaten there, were the communion elements.”

Many years ago, our family had an opportunity to meet astronaut Jim Irwin, lunar module pilot for Apollo 15, the fourth manned lunar landing mission (July 26 – August 7, 1971).  Irwin was autographing pictures of himself standing on the lunar surface.  On the picture he wrote, “Jesus walking on the earth is more important than man walking on the moon.”

As English journalist Malcolm Muggeridge once said, “The coming of Jesus into the world is the most stupendous event in human history.”  Over 2000 years ago, Jesus came to give His life to bring peace to all mankind.  If you and I accept Christ as our Savior, one day we will leave this world and spend eternity with Him.

Jan White is a national award-winning religion columnist. She can be reached at