May 2019: Three Muzzle Flashes
One of the men who attends my mother’s fellowship, Ted, is a former Marine and a strong believer. He was awakened one night by an unfamiliar sound. His father always told him, “Son, if you wake up in the night and hear your children crying, go take care of them. But, if something else wakes you, go and get your gun!” So, Ted retrieved his weapon and pulled back the slide but did not let the slide go home to chamber the round. As he started down the hallway, he saw a man walking and yelled, “Hey!” From the corner of his eye, Ted saw three muzzle flashes. Instinctively he released the slide, chambering the round (because this is what he was trained to do), before turning to fire three rounds in the direction of the flashes. The two men fled, firing their weapons wildly, sending over 20 rounds in multiple directions. All their rounds had missed Ted, but the three rounds Ted fired all hit their mark. The thief was hit in the arm, spleen and kidney. He was injured so badly his partner just left him at the hospital door and fled. He was eventually apprehended.
Recently I was in Troy, Missouri, speaking at a Calvary Chapel, where Wes Denim, a good friend serves as pastor. We went out to dinner one night, and as we sat down Wes said, “I notice that you are sitting so you can see anyone coming into the restaurant, and I bet you know where all the exits are too.” I responded, “Yes, I do.” I never feel comfortable with my back to the door. The first thing I do when I enter any building is check out where the exits are just in case of an emergency, I know where to get people out. It is a habit that I am sure will be with me for the rest of my life. For many, this may seem like strange behavior, but it is not for people like myself who work under constant threat and danger.
There is a point to why I am sharing this folks, strong training and being aware can often save you in a crisis. This is why I train the chaplains so very hard, running them nine miles a day, and
regimenting every part of their lives while in training. It is not for any other reason, but to teach them how to survive in a combat situation. But, no matter how hard we train, we will always lose men.
Just a few weeks ago, I taught at a men’s conference and brought along with me one of my friends, who is very involved in the world of counter intelligence. After my message, a gentleman walked up and said that he appreciated what we had to share. He then responded, “I have never been in a fight once in my life, I’m sure you can probably relate to that, right?” he added. My friend and I are both former Marines. We were polite, but when he walked away, we looked at each other and said, “I cannot relate at all.”
My point is, that we are living in a world that is full of darkness and it grows ever darker as we continue to race toward eternity. For us, this means that we must always keep our guard up. Jesus warned us to be vigilant, to be sober, and to be in a constant state of readiness.
On March 26, 2019, we lost Chaplain Elijah Yei, who graduated in our first class of chaplains and served faithfully for the last 20 years. He was number 15 to join our organization and was known and loved by all of our staff. He leaves behind a wife and six children, three boys and three girls. Elijah was recommended to me by General Mamur, who is in my opinion, South Sudan’s greatest general. General Mamur said concerning Elijah, “He is a very brave man and goes wherever the war takes him and he functions well in a battle. He is extremely bold for his God and is not afraid of death.” General went on to say that Elijah had been a good representative for the army and would be the same for Far Reaching Ministries. Because of his testimony, Elijah rose in rank to serve with military intelligence, which is reserved for the smartest and most loyal of men. The circumstances surrounding his death are still unclear, so I do not want to speculate. I will update you as more information becomes available.
In Elijah’s last update he wrote:
Thank you for your continued sponsorship and prayers for my ministry. Your steadfastness has encouraged me over the last 20 years. May the grace of God protect you and your family.
Since my last update to you, my greatest praise report is when, in my ministry, I have held a Bible study of 30 men. We are now expanding it to another area and are including many of the officers.
Though there are many praise reports, the biggest challenge that I face as a chaplain is that people are traumatized because of the war and crisis in our country. The people are looking for hope, and it is a ministry for us to share the love of Christ with those who are hurting.
If I could begin any ministry, it would be a counseling ministry. This is needed because the Bible has commanded us to teach and disciple those who are lost and hurting. Faith comes by hearing the Word of God.
Until my next communication to you, please know that I pray for you and all that you do for me. I am thankful for the abundant support that you have given to me.
Anchored in Christ,
Elijah saw a world that was growing increasingly dark and in despair, and he choose to do something about it.
Elijah is the fifty-fifth member of our staff to lose their life in the service of our Lord, and he will be greatly missed by all who knew him. He lived among a society of warriors, but unlike the world, he was and would always be a warrior for the kingdom.
Philippians 2:12-18 describes the life Elijah lived, “ … work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain. But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.”
As a pastor and a soldier, my prayer is that all of us will hold forth the Word of Life in these dark days. I encourage you to reach out to the people God has put in your path. Tell them about the great hope we have in Christ Jesus because as the days grow more evil, we know the time of Jesus’ return draws nigh.