June 2016: The Day Men Die
Death is no stranger to our chaplains and although our casualties have been extreme, we are winning the war for souls. Just this week, Nuba chaplains, Marcus Almark and Justin Margeny, were wounded in attacks. Also, an Equatoria chaplain, Joseph Otieno, fell into an ambush. Thankfully, all three men survived with minimal injuries. At the same time, weekly field reports confirm the Body of Christ is growing daily. Adversity may temporarily slow our men down, but spiritually, it rockets them forward.
Church history affirms that the blood of martyrs is the seed of the church. Man cannot stop what God sets in motion. The sacrificial death of righteous men is often the cost to rescue this generation of souls from Satan’s dominion. We count it the very least of our acceptable service and willingly give our all. A donor asked Senior Chaplain Michael, “What are you afraid of?” Without hesitation he replied, “I do not fear death; I fear what will happen to my people should they die and spend eternity in hell.”
Some might consider me to be a visionary. As I watch each cadet, I see the David’s of our day. Each of them is “a man of valor, a man of war, prudent in speech, and a handsome person; and the LORD is with him.” (1 Samuel 16:18) These brothers dream and share their vision for South Sudan; but none envision for themselves as much as I do. I believe these men were created for greatness, not in the world’s eyes, but endued with a holy anointing to change a nation and even a continent, to usher in true revival.
There were many warriors in Israel, but only one David. Many prophets, but only one Elijah. Many Pharisees, but only one Paul. Many orphaned girls, but only one Esther. Many widows, but only one Anna. God chooses ordinary men and women at a specific time and place. Whole-hearted surrender to Him unleashes the Spirit to accomplish a great a work for the Kingdom. Never forget this requires extreme sacrifice; in truth, it will likely cost you everything. David endured war, betrayal, and seasons of intense loneliness. Elijah was blamed for famine, drought and the financial ruin of Israel. While it is true that he slew 850 pagan priests, he slipped into suicidal depression right after his greatest victory. I memorized Paul’s persecutions from 2 Corinthians 11 and I encourage the chaplains to do the same. Scripture is the example to teach and equip us. We cannot expect better treatment than the servants who have gone before us.
Discouragement has taken almost as many men out of the race as compromise has. What God has prepared for those who love Him is greater than our capacity to imagine. The eternal weight of glory outweighs all the enemy throws at us. The battleground is the mind. For the chaplains, keeping a heavenly perspective while being shot at, literally, is vital.
One of the stories the chaplains love for me to tell them, is about the day we shall die. To the best of my ability, I spell out the moments of our last breath on earth and our first glimpse of heaven. I want my men to know what is waiting for them. I want them to long for heaven with the same fervor that they long for freedom in South Sudan. I share with them that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. Our bodies will be shed like old clothes. In the twinkling of an eye, we will be clothed with incorruption. Our natural mind sees death as the final breath; but in truth, death is our doorway to the kingdom of heaven.
I encourage the chaplains to envision themselves on the fiercest battlefield with an indefatigable enemy. Despite their valiant effort, a mortal round has found its’ mark. Their body takes the full impact of the wound and they fall to the ground. The fighting is so intense that no one can stop to come to their aid. As they take their last breath, they are painfully aware that they are alone. The reality is, they are only seeing the earthly side.
I, then, ask the chaplains to close their eyes and imagine that they have finished their race. I say to them, “You have fought the good fight, fulfilled the ministry entrusted to you by the Lord Jesus Christ and you have not denied the faith. Imagine the swell of anticipation and the joy rising within, knowing you have no regrets. Faintly in the distance, you hear sounds of praise, the ground begins to tremble, as those who have gone before you rush to your side. In an instant, you feel the familiar touch of a brother’s hand. You open your eyes, feeling joy unspeakable and full of glory for the very first time. Surrounding you are heroes of the faith, many of them fellow chaplains, clothed in heavenly armor, gleaming under the brightness of Jesus’ glory. He is lifting you to your feet and ushering you into the banquet hall. The shouts of praise and applause thunder as you are welcomed to sit in the place of honor at the marriage supper of the Lamb. As Jesus rises to His feet, everyone is silent and at long last you hear the words, ‘Well done, my son. You are a good and faithful servant! Enter into My joy!’ The heavenly hosts break forth again in worship and you sit listening to your fellow warriors at the table.”
The chaplains who have finished their race belong with these men. By His grace, they have earned a place at this table. What satisfaction they must have in knowing that their race is finished. Even though we have had men die, they have not lost their lives, they have given it. The crown that they were created for has been hard-fought for and won.
Far Reaching Ministries