Fox News & CNN

We have witnessed many painful things through the last 30 years overseas.  These include famine, civil war, demonic possession, alongside internationally ingrained racism that defies imagination.

Yet it could that $10,000 has caused the most pain?

But is not about money.  It is about who sets the agenda for God’s people. Those early years in Somalia were horrific as we buried scores of children, witnessed an abuse of women which became the norm, and encountered an environment that was potentially worse when we left than when we arrived. As our ministry grew in Somalia, believers from all over the world responded spontaneously to the need. Sometimes as much as $10,000 a month was given to this ministry from unexpected places around the globe. Such sacrifice became the norm.

Then Black Hawk went down.

Our team was not very far away from that tragic event. Many young American Rangers lost their lives. Possibly more than 700 Somalis were killed. It was a horrible time. In such an environment, episodes as these were not unexpected, though this particular event broke our hearts and had unforeseen consequences. Immediately after “Black Hawk Down,” gifts to our ministry from believers and churches around the world went from $10,000 a month to $100. I was shocked, confused, and then hurt. For the first time in my life I understood clearly who sets the agenda for the church, for the bride of Jesus Christ. Perhaps I was naïve, as I believed that the church received her marching orders from the Bible and the Holy Spirit.

The truth was, and is, who sets the agenda for the church in the West is most often Fox News and CNN.

Believe you me I am not picking a fight! Well, maybe I am, but I want to pick the right fight. Can we pause a moment and ask ourselves, who sets the agenda for the people of God? Where do you get your information? What sources influence the decisions made by the church, where it goes and what it does? Please hear my heart as I speak through tears and hurt. Seldom do we as a church spend a great deal of time in prayer and Bible study before deciding where to go and what to do in regard to ministry. Is the church, across denominational lines, gathering together, informing one another, breaking bread together, reading our Bibles, and then deciding where the Holy Spirit would have us go both across the street and across the globe?

Or are we turning on the television, tuning in Fox News or CNN and then rushing to the famine of the week, involving ourselves in stopping human trafficking, or being inundated by the next civil war with the ensuing images of yet more women and children at risk? From where does the church get her agenda?

It’s not about the $10,000. It’s about the need for the people of God kneeling before the throne of God seeking the will of God that haunts me.

Why would I waste the truth on you?

Perhaps it’s not what you would expect from a faith-based person who had entered Somalia for the sake of the kingdom of God but I was severely tempted to put my hands around the throat of my Chief of Staff and do him bodily harm. Why such behavior?

He almost got me killed.

Our small relief organization was now up and running.  It was my job many days to survey parts of Mogadishu and the surrounding towns and villages to discover where we were most needed but also where there was enough security so that we could work.  Early in this life-changing, destructive environment I asked my Chief of Staff concerning surveying a certain portion of Mogadishu.  I had indirectly heard that it was still very dangerous and I wanted to double check with my Chief of Staff, Hassan, before traveling to that part of the city.  He assured me that everything was okay and that I should go.

So this Kentucky boy, a product of a denominational based college and seminary training-a sometimes fumbling pastor, was now an overseas worker trying to apply faith in a mostly faithless and dangerous environment.  I got in our pickup truck with the driver and four guards and went to the portion of Mogadishu were my Chief of Staff had assured us it was safe to visit that part of the city.

We almost were killed.  Entering this embattled section of Mogadishu, outlaws tried to drag us from our vehicle, threw blocks of concrete at the truck, and sprayed bullets towards our pickup truck with their ancient AK-47s.  It was a terrifying encounter and we were lucky to get back to our compound with my life intact and my pants dry!

I stormed up the stairs of our headquarters until I found my Chief of Staff.  Working through my fear I grabbed him by the shirt front and demanded of him, “Why did you lie to me?  You almost got me and the others killed!”  He was very affronted and incredulously replied to me, “I don’t know you well enough to tell you the truth.  Why would I waste the truth on someone like you?”

I was struck dumb and walked away.  In what school or seminary was I supposed to learn how to serve Jesus in an environment that was dominated by barbarians with world views such as the Roman Empire?  Oh yes, what I needed to know was in the Bible but I had never seen such godlessness lived out in present active tense.  I realized, perhaps for the first time, that indeed I was a sheep among the wolves.  But for the first time the wolves were in the majority.

Over the next seven years Hassan saved my life 4 or 5 times.  We are close friends today.  But he taught me a valuable lesson.  Don’t expect the Fruit of the Spirit in places where few people know Jesus.  Don’t expect nonbelievers to waste the truth on someone whom they do not know, who are not part of their clan, culture, or country.  Do not transfer Christian attributes to people who do not know Jesus!

Yet bullets directed at you accelerate one’s learning and cultural adaptation.

Where was I supposed to learn what it was like to be a cross-bearer in a Roman environment?  Who was supposed to have taught and modeled for me the Bible in present active tense.  How was I to know that the Old Testament still defined globally many people groups and countries?  Was it okay for me to heavily dislike being a sheep among the wolves where the wolves had the upper hand?

Do You Know My Friend Jesus Christ?

Nik shares about visiting the Somali refugee camp in Kenya.  He describes the insanity that ensues when he asks Abu Aziz if he knows Nik’s friend Jesus Christ.