August 2019: How It All Started
Most of our donors do not know the dark history of how Far Reaching Ministries (FRM) came to be. Many are often surprised to know I never intended to start a foreign mission organization. From 1992 to 1996, I was a missionary in Russia. I prayed for Russia, and I dreamed I would spend the rest of my life there. But, in 1995, I was invited on a trip to go to South Sudan. How the Lord directed me goes far beyond what is written here, and I will share it in a future newsletter so that you will get the complete story. I was hired to do security by a mission organization because of my military background. South Sudan was locked in a brutal civil war with the Islamic North, which saw South Sudan as a gateway to take all of Africa for Islam. My job was to fly into a conflict zone, where aid and Christ’s love were needed. This organization focused on feeding thousands of starving people and doing medical outreaches in places where no medical aid existed.
The conflict made it almost impossible for anyone to just fly in. You could easily be intercepted by the enemy, then be tortured, raped, and killed. With each operation, someone had to be “dropped in” first to make sure it was safe. Often, when going in, the pilot would say, “When I land, I will go down to the end of the runway, then spin around and give you three minutes to get you and your gear offloaded. Then, I am going to gun the engines because they will often fire mortars at us when we land.”
That was exactly what he did. You could tell these pilots were afraid, but someone had to go in ahead of the group, and that person was me. About ten days to two weeks before a team would arrive, I would be dropped into the bush to make sure it was safe. I would often be flown in, with a Sudanese brother named Michael. We would go out, recon the area, and find out where the enemy was—how many there were, and what the risk would be to those on the ground. When we knew it was safe, I would radio out and tell them to bring the team in. I was well suited for this work and enjoyed it. This all changed in 1997.
A soldier came in one day and wanted to speak with us. He told us that he had done something he could not live with. There are some men you can look at and know that they are killers. Before he ever told me his story, I knew he was a killer. When I asked what he had done, he said, “First, I want you to know the Arabs killed everyone in my family. My mother, father, brothers and sisters. I am the last of my family, but I have done something I cannot live with.” I once again asked him what he had done, then he said, “We retook a village the Arabs had taken from us. When we did, I captured a pregnant Arab woman. I took out my knife, and I cut her open. Then, I reached inside and pulled out her twin children. I showed them to her, then I shot her, and I killed her. The two children must have been full term because they survived.”
Folks, these are dark days when you hear such things. He went on to say that he could not sleep at night and asked if we could help him. I have to admit that there was a part of me that just wanted to give this poor woman justice. But, in my heart, I knew the Lord had arranged this meeting between the soldier and myself. I took a moment and said, “All I can tell you is that with Jesus Christ, a man can find forgiveness of sin and hope.” He asked that I come share with his men and I told him that I would, but I was leaving on a four-day patrol and could not at that moment. The next four days, I was watching and searching for the enemy. When I knew it was safe for the team on the ground, I came back to the village. This soldier was waiting for me at the entrance to the village and had assembled his men. I dropped my backpack and grabbed a box of Bibles. My fellow brother, Michael, dropped his backpack and grabbed a box of Bibles and his guitar. Then, we proceeded to where the men were. There was about 150 men and all looked like they were battle-hardened soldiers. Michael started with worship and then my time came to share. Some of them had been inducted as child soldiers. I found out one had been fighting from about the age of nine or ten years old, or so I was told.
As I looked over the men, I could tell it was a guerrilla army—some with decent uniforms and others in rags and bare feet. I told them, “I know that you are warriors and that you have been fighting from your youth. By this virtue, some of you are going to die this year, and I want to talk to you about the most important decision you will make in your life. The decision of whether to receive Jesus Christ, or not.” As I was sharing, eyes began to look down at the ground, some began to move the dirt around with their boot or bare foot. Some tears began to come out of the corners of their eyes. See, these were men of war, and I suspect they all had tried to give the enemy back what they had received. The Arabs were well known for butchering their wives and children and raping them and selling them into slavery. There is an honorable way in which to defend your nation and your people, but I suspect most had not practiced this. They knew that they were guilty of sin, but they did not know how to deal with it.
When I explained what true repentance was and asked if they wanted to give their lives to Christ, the first one to come forward was the man who had killed the woman. He said, “I want to be forgiven of my sin. I want to give my life to Christ.” Then all 150 men stood, and I led them through the sinner’s prayer. Afterwards, the man who had killed the woman came up to me and said, “I do not know if I will ever see you again, but I will never forget you.” I never did see him again. He went back to the war, and I went back to my mission organization. In all these years, I have often wondered what ever happened to him, if he is still alive, and was his life transformed? I have prayed for him often.
When I met with the mission organization, I shared with them that this military did not have a moral compass, and we needed to start a chaplains’ training school to lay a godly foundation. What they said to me next, I did not expect. They said, “Wes, if you want to work with the military, you will have to leave our organization. We do not feel led to work with the military.” I thanked them for the time we had served together, and I resigned. I knew this was a road God ordained I travel. In looking back, it was the Lord separating us; the organization had done nothing wrong. This was not the road they were supposed to travel, but it was the one God ordained for me. Thus in 1998, FRM was founded. South Sudan was just rated as the third most dangerous country in the world in which to live. Much has changed in the 23 years I have been there. We have put over $3,000,000 alone into Ghost Operations, which is our highly guarded ministry into closed countries. Over the years, we have spent far more in South Sudan and Uganda. It is amazing to me what one small step of obedience has led us to. We are seeing many come to Christ. I do believe, in time, we will change this nation.
Now please let me change the subject for just one moment. For two years, I have been telling people that we have been feeding 14,000 kids a day. However, recently I was sharing this fact, and my senior chaplain, Michael, said, “Sir, it was 22,000 kids a day.” Which makes sense because we were dropping off food at 29 schools every week, most of which have close to 1,000 children each. The schools would feed the kids one large meal to get them through the day. We recently stopped the feeding program, but we gave all the families months of notice to start farming so they could provide for themselves. Still, every week we have many coming through our gates looking for help. Thus, we have started a program called Five Dollars for Food. For $5 a month, we can help feed a needy family or child. In time, we hope to raise thousands of individuals who will donate to this life-saving ministry. You can setup a donation through our website or you can contact our office if you choose to join us in this effort.
Those who have the ability to give more, we encourage you to do so, because we are asking for help in feeding so many. As always, we promise 100% of your donation will go toward food. For 20 years we have seen the Lord’s hand in changing a nation. I pray that we will see 20 more.
Far Reaching Ministries