Landess Farm is aiming to inspire guests with a corn maze honoring Seventh-day Adventist conscientious objector and Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Desmond Doss in the fall of 2020. This year marks the 75th anniversary of Doss’s heroic deed, delivering 75 wounded soldiers to safety under heavy fire along Hacksaw Ridge on the island of Okinawa during World War II.
“We just talk about his character qualities of kindness, compassion, self-sacrifice, and try to tie that into what we presently see in society. We’re hoping that we can stimulate peoples’ thoughts in the direction of his character versus what we’re seeing in society right now,” Susan Landess said.
Jesse and Susan Landess, members of Anderson Seventh-day Adventist Church in Indiana, United States, operate family-owned Landess Farm in Daleville, Indiana. In 2012, the farm began an annual corn maze tradition that operates during the fall. In January 2020, Jesse said the decision was made to pay tribute to Desmond Doss through the corn maze.
A former high school history teacher, Jesse incorporates historical education — often with some Bible facts — in the mazes, influencing their decision to mark the 75th anniversary of the Hacksaw Ridge feat, he said.
Throughout the 10-acre (4-hectare)corn maze, 12 checkpoints require guests to answer trivia questions related to Doss, his character, and his deeds. Based on their answers, guests are directed left or right until they complete the maze, Susan and Jesse explained. The Congressional Medal of Honor Society assisted in the creation of the trivia questions.
Featuring Doss and his story opens up a low-key way to share faith with visitors in addition to historical education, the Landesses said. A booklet called “The Faith of Desmond Doss,” along with a Hacksaw Ridge tract, are given to guests, offering more information about Doss and the Adventist faith that influenced his life.
Jesse said doing the will of God and not man, being committed, living conscientiously, and not giving in to pressure from others against morality are all traits that individuals can learn from Doss today.
“[Revelation 14:13] is something that I quote to our customers: ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord … their works follow them [NKJV].’ This is a prime example of a godly man who lived a life committed to Jesus. Seventy-five years later, he’s impacting lives,” Susan said.
In the first weeks of their fall season, the Landess family said they have already encountered new opportunities to share their faith with guests through the story of Desmond Doss.
One Friday evening, Susan said, some customers stayed late, and a young man inquired about the Landesses’ religion.
“That young man initiated the conversation,” Susan said. “What we pray for is that God will open the way, because we don’t want to be obnoxious, yet we don’t want to miss an opportunity that He presents to us. I love it when that happens.”
Jesse was recently able to share a copy of the book The Great Controversy with a youth pastor who shared an interest in history with Jesse, Susan added.
“Little things like that mean a lot to us. That we can just tell people, God does care for every little thing,” she said.
Landess Farm hopes to welcome about 2,000 visitors this fall, Jesse and Susan said.
“It’s really neat to see Him work,” Susan said. “It’s a maze! It’s corn. God uses all kinds of things.”