April 2016: Hard Choices
It is not an easy task to live the life of a conqueror for Christ’s Kingdom, therefore, training is essential to the believer’s life. While we have tremendous support in the South Sudan Army to train chaplains, we will always have our adversaries; such as, men who are of other faiths: followers of Islam, non-believers and haters of the Gospel. Over the years, there have been attempts to have the chaplain training base shut down by rogue commanders. What has halted this, is the arm of the Lord through the exemplary character of our chaplains.
In 2013, the former Vice President of South Sudan tried to stage a coup to take over the government and install himself as the new president. One of the ways he did this was by installing military units that consisted of soldiers from his own tribe. He promoted officers to positions that they had not earned in order to gain their support. In many cases, the former Vice President got away with doing this. However, in many of the units where the chaplains were stationed, they were able to put down the rebellion by reasoning with the men in their unit. They explained, that in truth, they were all of the same people—the ancient people of Cush. As brothers, they were not to be a part of the coup, but were to stand as a people united for the good of the country. The chaplains spoke with their units about what it meant to please the Lord and explained that to participate in a coup, would mean to kill their own brothers. Many of the units who had a strong chaplain presence choose not to rebel.
Leadership is not an easy mantel, especially when Godly decisions need to be made in a crisis. The responsibility of a wrong decision could have severe consequences. When the rebellion first broke out in the capital of South Sudan, it was put down very quickly, but many more attacks would be aimed at the heart of the government.
January 2014, when my wife, Vicky, called me around midnight. She told me that she had heard from the wife of one of the senior generals of the South Sudan government. His headquarters had been surrounded by rebels and he had been engaged in a three-and-a-half-hour gun battle. This was an assassination attempt. I told Vicky that I needed to get off the phone, that I needed to deal with this situation.
I then called two of our senior chaplains who were at the capital and explained to them what was happening. I told them to assemble every soldier they could and get them to the general’s headquarters, as quickly as possible. I told them to not worry about their own lives, because if we lost this general, we would lose the nation. The soldiers mounted up and drove into a hail of gunfire. As they approached It was night time, and they could see tracer rounds coming at them. If you are not familiar with tracer rounds, they have a red or orange streak that follows the round so you can see where your bullets are going.
When the soldiers arrived at the general’s headquarters, they stopped the vehicle where a dead body lay from the battle. The men quickly dispersed and took up their positions with the general. The men helped reinforce the general’s men. They set up a grenade launcher and spotted two locations that the enemy fire was coming from. The general gave the order and they fired one grenade into one position and two into another, silencing both areas. What was left of the enemy, melted away. When I called the general, at four in the morning, I asked, “How are you doing, General?” He responded, “I am here with the men you sent, my brother.”
Many believers would not understand this decision, because they’ve never served in the military, nor had to defend others. I have tried to explain that if someone were breaking into your home with the intention of harming your family or raping your wife, when you call the police would you want them to say, “Well, we will pray for you?” Or would you want them to show up? It is very shallow for those who have never been in these situations to judge those who have.
It is 5:00 a.m. here at the chaplains’ base as I am writing this newsletter. I can hear the men running out of the front gate, starting their eight mile run up Mount Gordon and back. The course is grueling, but by training these men so hard, we have been able to silence many of our critics. No one in South Sudan runs and trains like these men. They must be better than all others so that the name of Jesus Christ is held in high esteem.
When the Israeli Special Forces graduate, they march over 60 miles and climb Masada to have their swearing-in ceremony. We have made the decision that when the chaplains graduate they will march over 110 miles in 48 hours to present themselves to the President of South Sudan as men who have been trained spiritually, physically and mentally. Because Sudan has known war for most of the last 60 years, they will show themselves approved to handle the difficulties of being a pastor in frontline-combat positions.
With each new advancement that we make against the enemy, we face criticism and ridicule, from both inside and outside the Body of Christ. We do not faint, nor grow weary in serving the Lord. The Bible says that one is to be wary when all men speak well of you. This is an indication that you are, most likely, not living the life you were created for.
We need to remember that we are Christ’s representatives in an increasingly lost and dying world and we are to protect His name by the way we live.
Far Reaching Ministries