December 2023: Lives Saved
The situation for Afghans has become critical. Many were able to seek refuge in Pakistan from the murderous Taliban regime. On the 1st of November, Pakistan authorities issued a decree that all Afghans must leave Pakistan and began going door to door forcibly removing refugees. Many of these are widows and children who have lost everything, and Far Reaching Ministries (FRM) helped them to get to Pakistan. Now, they are facing certain death as the Taliban are waiting for them at the border. I received multiple calls from some of the Afghans that we have helped who are refugees in Pakistan. They report the Pakistan Secret Police breaking down their doors in the middle of the night and giving them 24 hours to leave. One woman, Hanifa, a widow with four young children, was weeping as she told me how the Secret Police broke down her door and told her she had 24 hours to leave the country. She asked me, “Where can I go? I have no where to take my children. Is there anyone who sees us or cares about us?” Hanifa’s husband was brutally tortured and murdered by the Taliban for his work with Americans. We took her and her young children into a safe house last year and were able to get them to safety in Pakistan. She has been on a waiting list for a humanitarian visa to a country where she can rebuild her life. I told Hanifa that we would do whatever it takes to prevent her and her children from being returned to the Taliban. She represents 79 Afghans whom we have helped flee Afghanistan and are now facing the same brutal crackdown in Pakistan. Pakistani believers, whom we have hired to assist the Afghan refugees, are now also being targeted for simply helping Afghans. As of the 3rd of October, FRM has rescued 2,003 Afghan civilians. Sixty-three percent are Christians, and the rest are Muslim, most of whom served with the United States military in Afghanistan and were left behind. We have also rescued many women and children who were being sold into sexual slavery. Unfortunately, one of the most difficult things we are dealing with is that most of the countries we have been sending refugees to have now begun to shut the doors for more. If we can keep the doors open, we should have an additional 75 to 100 more individuals out by Christmas. Right now, we have many families whose lives are hanging in the balance, and I know I need to be vigilant in working to save them. I have to admit this has been a time of great concern for me. I have seen what the Taliban is capable of, and it has caused me many nights of restlessness. I would like to thank all of you who have given to rescue these people. There are now many lives that are not under the constant threat of death to their families, murder, and torture. But, please pray; the job is getting harder by the day as the Taliban seeks to find all remnants of Christian faith and destroy it. The number of people trying to escape still runs into the thousands. They are fleeing from forced marriage and forced slavery. In essence, the destruction of the family unit. Brothers and sisters, this has been one of the most difficult times of my life. I have so many lives that are hanging in the balance, and the world has forgotten these people.
But I know that when you are under great spiritual attack, and the enemy is relentless, you are probably in the center of God’s will. And it is often a dangerous place. This is when I hold on to God’s Word, Psalm 91:15. He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. In this newsletter, we are showing just a few hundred of the more than two thousand saved. Also, for those new to receiving the newsletter, there are a few of the many stories of the great faith of our chaplains to help you believe in the supernatural.
SURROUNDED AND SACRIFICED
Chaplain C00415 Graduated: Class Ten
Daniel graduated from class ten of the Chaplains’ Corps. Since then, he has been engaged in excessive combat and wounded twice. In a place called Kodok, his platoon was attacked by a force of 300 rebels, his platoon having only 32 men. The enemy came at them with a frontal attack while sending an ambush to hit them from the side. Daniel’s platoon could spot the ambush and divided themselves, sending 16 men to fight each enemy assault. Daniel was fighting when he felt a bullet hit his head. He said that the blow was so hard he wondered if it were a death blow. But, when he felt his head, the bullet had just grazed his forehead. Daniel said the blood made it hard for him to see, and his head was in extreme pain. He told one of the other soldiers that he could not see and he needed to pray. He then said, “Lord, unless you intervene, this will be my last battle.” As the men continued to fight, everyone would have been killed had God not intervened. The enemy began to falter; the aggression and heart they started with initially began to ebb away. Though the enemy had the upper hand—having ten men for every soldier in Daniel’s platoon, something was happening in the supernatural. Without warning, the enemy fled. During the battle, six men in Daniel’s unit of 32 were killed, but they had put to flight 300 enemy soldiers. I often wonder what the Lord is revealing in the supernatural? It must be things that are unseen to us but are seen by the enemy.
In 2017, Daniel was with a force of about 300 men when they were attacked by an enemy force of over 1,500 soldiers. The enemy was supported by tanks and armored vehicles at a place called Kola. The outpost was very remote but had water. The next closest water was 78 kilometers away, and that is what the enemy wanted. Daniel’s unit was attacked by tanks and heavy armored vehicles when all the men with Daniel were just foot soldiers. They fought for three hours until they were just about out of ammunition. Realizing that they would soon be overrun, word was sent to evacuate the post. At this time, Daniel was shot through the lower arm, with the bullet exiting just above the elbow, which took out part of the bone. He felt severe pain and could hear the broken bones grinding against each other. He eventually stabilized his arm, tying it to his body. All of the men scattered, and he was on his own. In all, 36 men had been killed and 27 were wounded. Daniel hid in the bush and began praying for help and protection. He knew that he was in great danger and danger was all around. He walked for a day and prayed, “God, my life is completely in your hand. It is only You who will decide if I live or die.” In the place where Daniel ended up, it never rained. He realized that the Lord was the one who provides for the thirsty, and he began praying. As he prayed, the Lord heard, and dark clouds began to form on a sunny day. Then, as the sky grew darker, a great thunderstorm broke loose and flooded the area. Daniel was able to find puddles where he was able to drink until he could drink no more. He slept that night, but when he awoke the next day, his broken arm was making him weak. Again, he prayed and asked the Lord for strength, and the Lord gave Daniel the strength that he needed. He still had to walk for two days, wounded without water, but was able to survive because of the answered prayer—the thunderstorm. During another crisis, Daniel’s unit was stationed with a forward battalion headquarters that had several outposts, and the enemy was attacking with a great number of soldiers. Daniel’s unit tried to hold their position, but the enemy was just too large. As the enemy kept up their attack, they kept sending hundreds of men to annihilate Daniel’s battalion, who were being killed by the hundreds. Daniel’s men fought ferociously, but the number of the enemy was too great. Eventually, every outpost had been overrun and destroyed. The enemy came at them with two battalions of men, with about 1,000 soldiers per battalion. All that was left of Daniel’s battalion was 67 men and many wounded. All they could think about was evacuating the wounded before they were overrun. Everyone was preparing to die, but then Daniel knelt and began to pray, “Lord, it is only You who can protect.” As he prayed, he said that the Lord told him to have the men spread out all over the headquarters and, as soon as the enemy came into sight, to open fire. The enemy approached, attacking from the east and the south, thinking this was just a mop-up exercise to finish the last of them when the men opened fire on them. As men at the outpost loaded the wounded onto vehicles, they were also able to load 59 men to support them as they evacuated the base.
As the last vehicle evacuated, eight men had to be left behind, including Daniel. It is at a time like this that you want to choose men who are ready for heaven, knowing that their sacrifice gives time for others to come to Christ. These were the ones who chose to be sacrificed so that the rest could escape. Daniel and his men braced themselves to fight with everything in them to the last man as 2,000 enemy approached. Then, there was a commotion among the enemy. Daniel and his men did not know what the enemy saw, but they could hear the enemy crying, “They are much larger than us!” In a panic, the enemy fled the battlefield, running for their lives. Daniel and his men expected the enemy to regroup and come at them again, but silence came over the battlefield, and the enemy never returned. Daniel said that the men were so shocked, expecting to die, that they just sat down and began to laugh. Then, they all came together and bowed down to give thanks to God for delivering them from the enemy. News reached our base that Daniel had been killed. No one could imagine that he and the other seven men survived. But, word was sent from the outpost to let the army know that they were still holding the base where the enemy had been defeated. But by whom was the enemy defeated? It became a great testimony to the army and the nation when they found out that it was through the power of prayer that victory was won that day. Reinforcements were then sent to secure the base and retake the outpost. But I wonder if they were needed? The Word tells us that unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. There have been many stories of missionaries throughout history that demonstrate the supernatural.
I recall the story of John Paton and his family, who were missionaries trying to reach a very savage tribe with no success. The tribe decided to kill this family and came one night, beating their war drums. The parents put the children to bed and prayed as the drums came closer and closer until they were just outside the house. They expected to be killed and prayed fervently until they fell asleep. The next morning, when the family awoke, the savages were gone. A year later, the chief came to Christ. The father of that missionary family asked him why they did not kill them that night. He said that we were going to but then asked, who were all those men in shining white with swords raised above their heads? We will probably never know what the two battalions saw, but something happened that put an entire army to flight. While South Sudan is one of the five most dangerous countries in the world in which to live, the supernatural is happening through the prayers of our men.
THREE MONTHS BEHIND ENEMY LINES
Joseph Kuyok Lengudi
Chaplain 153 Graduated: Class Four
Joseph is a first lieutenant in the South Sudan Army. After he graduated from chaplaincy training, we lost contact with him for eight years as he was deployed to the farthest edge of enemy territory. After many years of no contact from Joseph, he was able to attend our 2015 refresher course, where he recounted several of the battles in which he was entrenched. Joseph’s unit was facing a formidable enemy force that was much larger and better equipped. They were deep in enemy territory, fighting near Darfur, almost 400 miles from their base. As they prepared for battle, a witch doctor wanted to cast a spell on the soldiers using a giraffe tail. He believed this would give the soldiers victory and told them it had great power. Joseph’s commander was preparing to go ahead with the ritual when Joseph asked his commander to allow him to speak. Then, Joseph said, “You witch doctors are always trying to lead people astray and away from the Word of God. This giraffe was not even able to keep his own tail! How can it have any power?” The witch doctor started to curse and said, “You chaplains are always interfering with our power!” Even after this reasoning, the commander would not listen to Joseph. The commander spent the night drinking rather than preparing the men for battle. Joseph, on the other hand, prepared his men for the imminent battle that lay ahead.
As they prepared to engage with the enemy the next day, God gave Joseph wisdom on how to protect all of the men. He saw a place where they could have the high-ground advantage. From this location, they could withstand an assault by a much larger force. Also, there was a stream nearby where they could get water, but the commander refused the plan. He would not listen to reason and wanted to press ahead without sending scouts to observe the battleground. Joseph spoke up again and said, “Let us, at least, deploy to this mountain where we might have some kind of advantage against the enemy.” The commander allowed Joseph to go to the mountain with 32 men while the three remaining groups went with the commander. When Joseph’s group reached the mountain, he prayed with his unit and read Deuteronomy 31:4-8, Joshua 24:16-18 and Psalm 91. As they prepared by seeking the Lord, the enemy laid an ambush for the non-believing commander and his group of soldiers. By the time the commander realized the enemy was there, he had led his group of 160 men into the ambush. A force of 3,000 strong outnumbered them. Had the commander listened to Joseph’s advice during the initial assault and waited on higher ground, the enemy would have fallen into their hands, giving the unit a chance to escape. Instead, the commander and his men were caught with nowhere to go and had to fight from eight in the morning until four in the afternoon. The place where Joseph had stationed his men gave them a strategic advantage for the battle. Joseph told his men that they would not survive even one day unless they held their position. One officer refused to listen and started down the mountain. He was immediately shot in the head and killed by the enemy. This caused all the other men to realize that Joseph had a better understanding than the other officers. The other three groups with the commander were cut off, surrounded, and annihilated. Not one man survived— not even the commander. The place where Joseph and held their position had a stream, giving them drinking water. Even under extreme heat, the men could stay hydrated, allowing them to hold off the enemy. At one point, the enemy was forced to pull back for water. In this moment of calm, the Lord spoke to Joseph, and the Holy Spirit showed him a way of escape. Joseph had already lost four of his men in the battle. He knew they were almost out of ammunition and would not withstand another attack. During a brief lull, he told his men how God had shown him that they must make their escape immediately through the streams or that they would all be killed in the next assault. The 28 remaining soldiers moved quickly and escaped into the bush. Joseph prayed that the Lord would spare all of the men whom the Lord had entrusted to him so that he could get them to safety. Surrounded by the enemy, the Lord did not allow any of Joseph’s men to fall into their hands. The Lord’s direction, at each point, allowed them to avoid the enemy patrol. However, their troubles were just beginning, as they were nearly 400 miles from friendly lines.
Among the many obstacles Joseph’s men faced, the most vital was the loss of all their food. He realized that if the men died, it would be because of starvation. Since they had few bullets left, they were forced to choose the best marksman in their group so no ammunition would be wasted. They prayed every time a shot was taken, and the bullet never missed its mark. Along with protecting themselves, they also needed to hunt for food, and once an animal was shot, they would quickly cut off its legs and leave the body behind. They would then run for cover because the enemy would come in the direction of where the shot was fired. At night, they would dig a hole in the ground and roast the meat so the fire would not be seen. All the men were careful with their food because they did not know when they would eat again. In the bush where the men were, the covering was only a couple of feet high, so they had to lay down during the day and move by night. As the weeks went on, the men became weak from hunger, so they took off their boots because they were too heavy and instead traveled barefoot. They survived this way for three months. During the refresher course, Joseph told us that what kept the men strong was reading Deuteronomy, Joshua, and Psalm 91. Daily, Joseph prayed and encouraged the men, and after three months, they reached the safety of their lines. Joseph prayed all along the way that not one man would be lost, and God honored his prayer.
Joseph’s testimony had a great impact on all of Division Five. Even his divisional commander said that the nonbelieving commander was dead because he did not trust the Lord. Joseph shared with me, “Wes, the training at the chaplains’ base is tough, but it was this training that saved my life.” The Lord had not only honored Joseph’s faith, but He had answered his prayers, too. The Division Five commander requested that Far Reaching Ministries take another 30 men for the 10th class of chaplaincy training. The commander realized that Joseph’s prayers had saved the men in his unit. As a footnote, after being away from his family for eight years, Joseph learned that his wife had left him for another man. Joseph told me that he would not hold any anger against her. He realized that he is in the hands of God, and he has chosen to forgive and move on. God has honored Joseph’s heart and brought him a wife who is a believer.
Christmas had always been my favorite holiday growing up as a kid in Germany. It was magical. My father was in the Air Force, and we lived in a beautiful little German town. There was actually an abandoned castle just a block away from my house. My brothers and I would spend endless hours playing at the castle, knights against knights. We would use trash can lids for shields and my father made us wooden swords. The German army used to have war games out in the fields and we would go and collect the bullet shells. To us, as kids, it was like finding gold coins. We would come home with buckets of them. My father would always decorate the house and have Christmas music playing all season. And, on Christmas Eve, we would be allowed to open one present. All those years ago toys were a real treat, we only received them on birthdays and Christmas, because people were much poorer back then. I remember if someone in the neighborhood bought a new Buick or Oldsmobile it was a big deal. I never heard of anyone owning a Cadillac or Mercedes. The way we ate when we were children compared to today’s children has also changed dramatically. As kids we never had fresh vegetables but canned. I think I was 21 the first time someone served me steamed vegetables. Christmas Day with the turkey, stuffing, and all the fixings was such a great treat. Why I am sharing this with you is because when you go to Mexico or Ukraine, they are still not at the standard we had 50 years ago. We want to make this Christmas magical for the children by providing them with warm winter boots and coats. For almost all of them, this will be the only gift they receive, but the kids will not be disappointed, instead they will be happy as a child can be. Bigtha, who oversees our Mexico outreach with her husband, Axel, will prepare wonderful Christmas parties as they have done in the past. Bigtha told me as a child, for her, breakfast was coffee with bread, and she would dip the bread in the coffee. This is all her family could afford and for many in Mexico it still is. Ukrainian children are just happy to have soup and bread. The kids in Mexico and Ukraine are similar. They love hotdogs, cake, ice cream, and candy, and that is what we will give them. We hope to send home bags of food for each family and the elderly. But for these children Christmas is a holy day; the day that Christ was born. They will be told the Christmas story, and every year most pray to ask Christ in their heart. We will be doing Christmas outreaches in Ukraine deep into January because Orthodox Christmas is the 7th of January. You still have plenty of time to give if you would like to be a part of this Christmas blessing.
I always go down to Mexico the week before Christmas to be a part of blessing the children because it brings me such joy and is the highlight of giving for me. Vicky and I would like to thank all of you who have given. You have saved the lives of so many.
Wes and Vicky Bentley