March 2018: Dying for the Kingdom
View the full March 2018 newsletter here.
I have spent a great deal of time studying history and it has always been important for me to understand it. Sometimes, I am amazed by what I have found. Right now, I am reading several books: one, on the legions of Rome, one, on Genghis Khan and another, on the Knights Templar. In the book, Legions of Rome, the author gives a great account of Paul when he was speaking to the crowds and was ordered to be beaten. He then asked those in charge of the punishment if it were lawful to whip a Roman citizen. What was amazing about this account is that it is almost an identical account written in the Bible, but was not taken from the Bible, instead, it was recorded in Roman history.
What struck me most recently was an account of the Templar Knights. You must understand something about these men’s history. Becoming a Templar Knight meant you chose to wear the red cross. In doing so, you were dedicating yourself to a life of service, sworn to protect believers and the Holy Lands. These men took these vows very seriously. The oath they swore meant everything to them. When they chose to wear the tunic with the red cross, not only were they responsible to protect, but they were sworn to a life of poverty and celibacy and vowed to own no material possessions, instead they bore a uniform and sword to defend the defenseless.
In one account, the Muslim leader, Saladin, was marching against the Christians. One hundred and forty knights set out to find him and find him, they did. Saladin’s army was near a natural spring near the city of Nazareth. When the knights found him, he was well guarded. Saladin was with an army of 7,000 men, and an army of 100,000 men was following him. At first, many of the knights wanted to flee, but one knight, by the name of Bernard, reminded these men of the oath they had sworn. As Bernard spoke with the men, he said, “Remember, whether we live or die, we will be with Christ.” Then, all 140 knights attacked Saladin’s army. Most of the knights were killed, some taken into slavery and a few who were wounded were taken from the field of battle by their fellow knights and escaped. Their bravery and sacrifice will never be forgotten.
There was a story of a knight called James of Mailles. He stood alone when all his companions had been killed. He was surrounded by enemy troops and abandoned by human aid when he saw so many thousands running towards him from all directions. He strengthened his resolve and courageously undertook the battle—one man against all.
According to the historical account of Saladin’s soldiers, they were so won over by the Templar’s bravery that they urged James to lay down his weapons and surrender, so they could spare his life. James ignored them and continued fighting until at long last he was crushed, rather than conquered by spears, stones and lances. He fell to the ground and joyfully passed to heaven with the martyr’s crown. This knight was killed, but his bravery is the thing of legends.
The knights understood what is missing in the Body of Christ today. The Bible says that if any man comes after Me, let him take up his cross and follow Me. The cross was used as an instrument of death. A place where one dies to the things of this world, so Christ might shine through us. The knights lost themselves in Christ, and their identity would be reborn as a knight for God’s Kingdom—it meant no difference to them as long as they served exceptional lives for the Lord.
As we train the classes of chaplains, we train them to live exceptional lives for Christ. Along with Biblical principles, we give them examples of men who lived sold-out lives for Christ, which the Knight Templars were examples of. Men who chose to put the comforts of life aside, instead to serve the kingdom of God. With each class of chaplains, we know that some will see heaven earlier than others and we want them to live lives worthy of the calling to serve until they are called to heaven.
It is always with mourning and a great sense of loss when we hear of another chaplain passing. Many times, they are mortally wounded while serving others as they have dedicated their lives to do. With this level of dedication, many of our chaplains serve where others will not, and often we are not given the full account of what happened to them in their final moments of life. The lack of communication coming from war-devastated areas is extremely sporadic at best. This was not the case with Chaplain Daniel Akech, as we were provided with some detail.
On the 10th of December, Chaplain Daniel was killed in the service of Christ. He was one of these exceptional men. During the last refresher course, he did not attend, when we welcomed all the men to come in to be re-equipped with new uniforms, receive teaching, good food, along with pay. Daniel chose to stay in the field with the unit he was serving. It was a front-line unit and every man was suffering from hunger and lack of resources. He could have chosen to get leave from his commanding officer, instead, he chose to endure with those he was called to serve.
He would often journey to more remote units to teach the Word. With no means of transport, Daniel would often walk many miles from the safety of the main garrison. The route Daniel chose was dangerous, but he knew that these men needed a pastor to teach and encourage them with such difficult war conditions. They often received only one meal a day, consisting of wild game and nothing else. It is in times like this when the men need a godly example of a man who truly stands for Christ. We do not know exactly what the last few moments of Daniel’s life were like. We do know he had traveled a great distance to a remote unit to teach the Sunday services when he was intercepted by the enemy. When the soldiers of his unit found him, his body had been stripped as it was when he came into the world, and so it was when he left—lying naked and dead. The soldiers who carried his body mourned for a man whom they had come to respect and love as their spiritual leader.
While writing this newsletter, I was in in Russia. One of the Russian sisters, who served with our team, had a dream of someone holding a gun to my head. When she recounted her dream to me, she was deeply concerned. She prayed and said that the Lord told her just to pray. She wanted me to know that I was loved by the Russian people and that their prayers would protect me. As she was relating this story, another of the Russian sisters asked, “What will you do, if this is true?” I shared that if it were my time that I would embrace it, knowing that my race will be finished. I suspect that this is exactly what Daniel did. He knew that Jesus was the Author and Finisher of his faith and knew exactly what was best for him. Daniel chose to wear the red cross, to live and die as a knight of God’s Kingdom.
Since Daniel’s passing, we were contacted by his unit. We were told the story of a great man. There was no corruption found in him. He was not only a man of God, but once he became a chaplain, he took his calling seriously and he was forever given to a life of service. He lived an exceptional life for the sake of the Kingdom. He put aside the comforts of this life for the treasures in the life to come.
In Daniel’s biography information, he stated that he had been well equipped for reaching men for Christ because of his time of training at the chaplains’ base. He prayed that he would do his job well. He was not married but wanted to be. His desire will come to pass, but it will be at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. The loss of Daniel will leave a great hole with the men he served. Daniel truly led an exceptional life for Christ.
Far Reaching Ministries