February 2017: A Kingdom Warriors Journey
Wani-Igga, one of our Nubian chaplains, was an extraordinary man of God. He was a true warrior for the Kingdom of the Lord, and his journey will inspire you. While I care about all the men who serve at Far Reaching Ministries (FRM), there are always those few I connect with deeper than others, and Wani-Igga was one of those men.
He came to the base last year for emergency medical care, but it had otherwise been nearly five years since we’d seen one another at a refresher course. The intensity of the war kept us apart, as the men were needed at the front.
Wani-Igga’s passion for reaching people with the Gospel was so intense that he put his hand to the plow and didn’t look back! He graduated from the fifth class of cadets in 2003 and served the Chaplains’ Corps faithfully for the last thirteen years. His love for Jesus Christ was evident in everything. One of his favorite things was reaching out to others with worship, where his raspy singing voice attracted people instantly. I had never heard a voice quite like his, it reflected his role as a chaplain and leader perfectly. In fact, it was so unique and strong he drew crowds in every village. Wani-Igga used worship to prepare people’s hearts for the Word and they stood mesmerized by the power of the Holy Spirit flowing freely through his surrendered life. God used him to lead many to a life-altering encounter with a risen Savior.
Wani-Igga was no stranger to war. Born and raised in the Nuba Mountains—war, suffering, persecution, and the brutality of Jihad was all he knew. A brave and decorated soldier when he came to FRM, he quickly rose as a leader in the Corps. He earned respect from his fellow chaplains, commanders, and soldiers for his dedication to the service of Christ.
He led a small team of chaplains into three Islamic villages that had never heard the Gospel before. For two years, they went daily. Patiently they explained who Jesus is, testifying of the miracles that He did and was doing, and then opening discussions with any who would listen. These villages were 100% Muslim, their culture and daily routines reflected only Islamic traditions. Wani-Igga’s witness had a powerful effect on everyone. They were amazed at his love, his patience and his genuine concern for them. He and one other chaplains led 95% of the village into a saving relationship with Christ. That might be hard for you to fully grasp, but recognize that it meant an entire village radically altered their lifestyle and went from being loyal to a militant Islamic regime to an allegiance to freedom! I did not hear this testimony from Wani-Igga, so please don’t think he was boasting or exaggerating–in fact, it wasn’t even another chaplain who shared this with me—it was a commanding general. He personally contacted me to thank me for the effect the Corps has had in the Nuba Mountains. When I asked how many people in these villages were affected, the General said, “Six thousand former Muslims are now believers in Jesus Christ, through Wani-Igga’s work as a chaplain.”
Wani-Igga cheated death by means that could only be the hand of God many times. In over 100 battles, he bravely served alongside his unit and against all odds walked away unscathed. At the refresher course, I mentioned earlier, we sat for hours listening to the testimonies of God’s protection. God watches over His warriors.
I am proudest of Wani-Igga for his heroic stand for the persecuted church. A few years ago, the Islamic government of Northern Sudan bombed the Samaritan’s Purse Bible College in the Nuba Mountains destroying many structures. Thankfully, no one was killed in the attack, though sadly, thousands of churches were not so graciously spared. When the Jihadist’s set out to wipe out Christian churches in the region, people were terrified. Jaber Tutu (a lead chaplain) and Wani-Igga organized the Nuba Corps to defend, protect, and encourage the local churches. The chaplains did all they could to let the Body of Christ know that their right to worship Jesus would not be stolen on their watch.
When persecution struck, the chaplains mobilized an immediate response team. When a church was burned to the ground or a Christian was beaten or killed, the chaplains went right to the scene. Sometimes they had to stand guard all night, triage the injured, or work alongside the church members cleaning up the ruins. Wani-Igga told me that he insisted they immediately erect a new structure for worship, even when it meant he personally went without sleep. When I asked why, he told me that in the past, fear of retaliation and persecution stopped the body from rebuilding. This forced many churches to be permanently closed. The chaplains’ presence, coming right alongside, gave confidence to rebuild. Miraculously, the Lord used the church’s resistance to stop further attacks. A resounding hope spread in the Nuba’s because men like Wani-Igga stood. When one man stands for God, an entire nation can be changed—Wani-Igga, Jaber, and the Nubian Corps proved this true!
Last year, reports came in that Wani-Igga and his wife had become critically ill. I knew if we did not act, we may lose them. I contacted General Jagot, commander of the Nubian Army, and personally asked him to get Wani-Igga and his wife to an accessible airfield so we could do a medical evacuation. FRM’s provision of medical supplies had earned us great appreciation from the troops so the General granted my request, immediately sending a military vehicle to make the two-day journey. With the limited resources of the Nubian Army, this was a personal favor to me, so I knew God was moving to save Wani-Igga. When the medical evacuation arrived, Wani-Igga was near death. His wife was too sick to even travel, but we were able to get her to a hospital and send funds to help. God healed Wani-Igga and we helped him get back to health. He was eager to get back to the field, so we flew him back and we kept in touch, as much as possible.
Just a few months ago, Wani-Igga’s wife went home to be with the Lord. It was a great loss to him, but he pressed harder into the Lord and served with greater passion than ever before. With each radio call to the Nuba team, I asked about Wani-Igga. He sent back word saying, “Don’t worry, I am trusting the Lord and I won’t give up!” At the base, we prayed daily for him.
On Friday the 18th of November, Vicky called to tell me that Wani-Igga finished his race as a warrior two days earlier, and entered the Kingdom of our Lord. She said that she had learned about Wani-Igga’s death the day before, but she waited to share the news with me because so much sad news came in at once. She did not want to overwhelm me. This was the third staff member we had lost in a week. Nubian Chaplain Absalom was killed in an ambush and Sasha, a pastor under Ghost Ops lost his battle with cancer.
As I rejoice in the fruit of chaplains like Wani-Igga, I cannot help but wonder if the parable in Luke 19:11-27 of the servants with the king’s ten minas is a literal picture of the rewards for a servant of God. Jesus said that the servant who gained ten minas (with the ten he was left to use) was rewarded with the charge to govern ten cities in the Kingdom of God. If that is literal, Wani-Igga may be ruling over thousands of cities! His reward may be one of the greatest in the Kingdom.
I will never forget saying goodbye to him and the other Nubian Corps members at the refresher. The bush planes were standing by to fly the men home. I called them all together and said, “The next time some of us meet, it will be in the Kingdom of God, so I will tell you what King David said to his son, Solomon, from his deathbed, ‘Be strong and prove yourself to be men!’” Not one man said a word, they just shook their heads in acknowledgment, and I saw their commitment to do so as our eyes met. For me personally, I have great sorrow over the loss of every fellow servant of the Lord, but these men—Alexander and Wani-Igga—were men very dear to my heart. I will miss each of them deeply. But thankfully, I KNOW that I will see them again, when I make my final journey.
Far Reaching Ministries