September 2020: Kingdom Race
Every man has a journey to make in this life, and John Riel, chaplain number C00367 wanted to make one that would count for all eternity. John was born into a non believing family and grew up without the knowledge of Christ. War makes a man think when you see death all around you. The realization of constant fighting is always at the forefront of your mind. One day, you and a friend are laughing and drinking, and the next day he has been killed. This causes men to think about dying and where do you go when you die? You realize that every man has a day appointed to die and then a day appointed to stand before Christ. Because of this, John surrendered his life to Christ. He became very active in the church, and he loved the choir. He felt that the Lord wanted him to be a witness to others, of the joy he found, when he became a believer. John shared the following when he graduated from chaplain school: “I see that it is no longer popular to stand for Jesus, the truth and morality, but I do not care. I will live for Jesus even when others slander me. In this life, many War makes a man think, when you see death all around you Kingdom Race will oppose you, but I believe God has called me to the ministry, so that I may be a voice crying out for Truth.” He went on to say, “I believe I am supposed to shine as a light to those bound in perpetual darkness and by living a holy life, leading others to Christ.” His favorite verse was John 14:15, “If you love Me, you will obey Me.” After graduation from chaplaincy training, John returned to his military unit and served the Lord faithfully. He tried to make every opportunity for the Gospel count—teaching and living out Christ before the men in his unit. From field reports, he was very effective in reaching and leading men to Christ. On, or around the 4th of May, he was returning from doing a day of ministry. He was coming back late, and it was dark. A shot rang out and took John home to the Father. He will be greatly missed.Martin Yoasa Inda, chaplain number C00226, joined the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) in 1991. He was from Western Equatoria, and he would rise to the rank of captain. He fought in Yei from 1992 to 1998, and then in Torit in 2006. When he joined the Chaplain Corp, the fighting in Yei was particularly brutal. The enemy had been a cruel oppressor, often raping other men’s wives and making them watch while mocking them. I will not go into further detail because it is too extreme and graphic. This type of behavior causes men to want to exact a terrible revenge and retribution for crimes committed against their wives, daughters, and families. The SPLA would make them pay dearly because this type of rage cannot be easily stopped. When the SPLA hit the city, it was to take the city, or die; there would be no turning back. They hit the enemy with such ferocity that the enemy began to use the people as human shields, but the soldiers would not be thwarted. They pressed the battle, even when the city was overrun, and bodies were everywhere. The stench of the dead would last for a long period. This would be one of the defining moments in Martin’s life. He knew that he needed to make a difference, and he wanted to be an obedient man, so he joined the Chaplain Corp. He was quiet by nature and worried about people a lot. I understand Martin well in this area—when you have so many to care for, it is difficult for a man’s mind to rest. Paul the Apostle understood this stress quite well. He said in II Corinthians 11:28-29, “I face daily the pressure of my concerns for all the churches. Who is weak, and I do not feel weak?” Martin wrote about the following in his biography for the Chaplain Corp: When I was a young man, I participated in all the activities that other young people participate in. I drank, smoked, chased the girls, and got into many fights. I joined the military in 1991 and graduated as a second lieutenant. When I first joined, I still did all the things I had done before, until I heard an evangelist teach the Word of God. As I listened, something began to happen. I could feel God speaking to my heart. The conviction was so strong, and I knew that I was a man who was lost and had much sin to give an account for. Then, I heard that through Christ, I could have my sins paid for. The Word really hit me, so I gave my life to Christ. I wanted to follow the teachings of the Bible and walk the way that a man should walk. When I heard about the chaplain program, I joined. I wanted a real understanding of God’s Word, so I would have a solid foundation.
The chaplain training was hard. It is not for those who are not serious, but I was determined to graduate. The Bible says that if you diligently seek Me, you will find Me. So, I worked hard to be a part of this faithful group of men. As soon as I graduated, I went directly back to the front to start my ministry. I evangelized the men I was deployed to, and because of the strong foundation, many came to Christ. I worked extensively with the wounded. Men who are dying are searching for answers, and Jesus is the only answer I know. My father died before I was ever born, but I was told that he was a preacher. I hope from heaven that he is proud of his son. Martin graduated with class four of the Chaplain Corp and served for about 15 years. He had a wife and two children. On the 15th of May, he lost his earthly life and graduated to the eternal. He will no longer need to worry. He has finished his race well and is now with both his heavenly Father and the one he never knew. While Martin was here, he stored great treasures, never turning away from the work. Both John and Martin chose to run the race for the prize. They never looked back, and while weary, they did not grow weary in well doing. Daily, they faced death, but welcomed the troubles knowing it brought about the perfection of their faith. They were men racing towards the kingdom, with a race to complete before being called home. Martin and John, having pledged their lives to heaven for the Gospel, bore their cross while they waited for their crowns, and they told the world of the treasure they had found.
Far Reaching Ministries