Answering The Call is an international missions organization dedicated to reaching people in difficult to reach places.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Dangerous Men

CAUTION//READ AT YOUR OWN RISK – My wife advised me that the words I have written below may come across more harshly than I mean them to. So I read it again. While I mean everything I say, nothing I say is meant to be mean. I'm not pointing fingers from my high horse. If you think I am, then let my wife know and I guarantee she'll put me in my place. No one is more aware of my shortcomings. Nor does anyone on Earth love me more. That is how I mean the words that follow. To be aware of shortcomings, but love those who strive is what we should be about. For though we were all born into sin, we have been called out of it. So, consider yourself warned and read on, or turn back now...

There's a poignant eulogy delivered in Act of Valor that begins with the words, “Before my father died, he said the worst thing about growing old was that other men stop seeing you as dangerous.” How many of us are really dangerous men when we're young though? It's the way we we were meant to be, but it's often only the way we long to be.

There's a bit of dialogue in C.S. Lewis's classic The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe that has always stuck with me. Susan inquires about Aslan, “Is he—quite safe?” To which Mr. Beaver responds, “Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good.” In Lewis's allegory Aslan is representative of God. If we were created in the image of God, then some part of who we are is supposed to be dangerous, but good.

Unfortunately, we've all been born into a risk averse, politically correct culture in which every liability has been insured against and tolerance prevents any contest. It is a culture that does not allow us to cultivate our dangerous nature.

What a sad day. My personal fear is for the days of future when we rue the days of past, particularly the days when McDonald's invented the Big Mac, Microsoft invented the Xbox, and text messaging destroyed basic literacy. Make no mistake, there are people in the world who want nothing more than an opportunity to kill and destroy every person and every institution that supports life and liberty. And they have foregone the satisfaction of food and entertainment while they have applied their minds and bodies to the study of warfare. What will happen to us on the day when the only youth left to defend us have been raised in the shadow of our generation?

I am not saying that being a dangerous man has something to do only with armed conflict. Rather, every man should be dangerous in a manner appropriate for his battle. In recent days ISIL declared a caliphate in Iraq and Syria. Meanwhile at home, certain high profile politicians have championed the LGBT agenda and subsidized birth control, to include abortion. In both places those causes are advanced by dangerous men who are not good. In Iraq they wear ski masks and carry guns. In America they wear suits and speak eloquently. But they are all dangerous.

So I ask, where are the Aslans? Where are the dangerous, but good men? If we are soldiers we should be physically fit and competent with the tools of our trade. Those are the prerequisites of being a dangerous man in a gunfight. If our fight is not on the battlefield with weapons, then we should be dangerous in a way that is relevant to that fight. Physical fitness may be less important in that battle than a mastery of words and information. Those are the prerequisites for being a dangerous man in a public presentation.

In either battle understanding the cause that we are fighting for is equally important. If we do not understand the cause, we will never know victory. We may subdue our enemies for a time, but it will not achieve a lasting victory. Make no mistake. As I have already said our enemies seek to destroy life and liberty, but our cause is nothing less than freedom. It is for freedom we have been set free. If we have escaped the darkness through salvation, then let's step into our calling as dangerous men and venture back into the darkness to bring the light of freedom to those still beset on every side by the enemy.
Written by Ben Machia, 01 July 2014

Monday, July 21, 2014

Answered Prayers and Broken Hallelujahs

Here's a TMAR Mash-up. Kyle Shell, featured first, and her husband Steve have been working with ATC in Akuak Rak since the beginning. Read her piece to get a bird's-eye view of what is happening at Akuak Rak and how God has answered many prayers. Then check out the piece by Dana Hoewt. She's been to Akuak Rak for the last two trips and gives you the up close and personal.  We'll leave you with some appropriate lyrics by The AftersThere are still many prayers to be answered and much to be done in Akuak Rak. Hope you enjoy and are inspired to be a part of what ATC is doing in any way you can.

- Kyle Shell -

I organize an after-school Bible club at an inner city school in Pensacola, Florida. We occasionally have guest speakers for the children at the Bible club, and last year my husband Steve, his great friend Glen Strange, and our respective daughters Caroline and Nicole came and spoke about an ongoing mission project in South Sudan.

Steve and Glen have been traveling with David Fuller, the director of ATC, for the last eight years to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with people in hard to reach places. They have spent most of their time in a remote village called Akuak Rak. In fact, they were even working with the people of this area before Akuak Rak was a village.

When they first came to this area, Sudan was just coming out of a 22 year civil war. The people had received virtually no medical care during the war, many were starving, and it was mostly children raising children. About the only thing these people did have was faith in our Lord.

God heard the prayers of the people of Akuak Rak and has worked through many people and churches to help provide a real community for them. Now there is a clinic, a school and an orphanage. There are church services under a very large sycamore tree, and at least in this tiny pocket of South Sudan, there is peace. The Lord has answered the prayers of Akuak Rak.

Steve showed the students at the school where I serve a video from Akuak Rak eight years ago and then one that was made last year. One of the children commented that in the second video the people are so happy. They are happy indeed!

- Dana Hoewt -

This was my second visit to Akuak Rak. I met a young boy last year on my first trip to Akuak Rak. He was not in the orphanage, but lived in the village nearby. He could barely walk, sat in the dirt, made no eye contact and showed no signs of belonging to anyone. He would sit and watch the other children. His name is Akol and he was definitely “one of the least of these.”

I prayed for Akol from the time I said goodbye last year until I saw him this year. We arrived at Akuak Rak after four days of travel. The last leg had been a hot, bumpy, ten hour truck ride, but I jumped out excited to see the singing children. Off to the side was Akol. He was still shy, but this time he walked taller and even smiled. My heart was so full I thought it would explode. God had heard and answered my prayers.

There are many prayers left to be answered in Akuak Rak though. One morning I was walking past the clinic when I saw a toddler lying on the ground near his mother. They were not in line at the clinic, but he was clearly sick. I scooped him up and laid him on an exam table. He was burning with fever (105.8 to be exact). Underneath tattered rags his stomach was distended. He was clearly starving.

Then I looked up and saw Akol. At that moment my heart was so broken and so full. Missions really are a broken hallelujah.

- The Afters // Broken Hallelujah -

I've seen joy and I've seen pain.
On my knees, I call Your name.
Here's my broken hallelujah.

With nothing left to hold onto,
I raise these empty hands to You.
Here's my broken hallelujah.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Memories, Mandate, Hurt, and Hope

The Memories of what we saw lead me to a Mandate, to assume some responsibility to make a difference.

The Hurt I saw reminded me, profoundly, of the wickedness and indifference, that so challenges and characterizes our world.

Oh, but there is Hope. Not through human efforts and do gooders, but through Jesus, The Living Hope.

Eternal Salvation is not for private consumption; and Nobody, but Nobody, has a monopoly on Jesus.

by Dr. Charles Fuller, ATC Board Chair
Administrator's Footnote

We are quick to ask, "How can God allow this to happen?"  How different would the world be if we were quick to ask, "How can we allow this to happen?"  Matthew 5 says that we are the light of the world.  It does not say that we are a reflection of it. 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Step by Step

“In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.” - Proverbs 16:9

This is a difficult time in the short history of the worlds newest country, South Sudan. South Sudan, this year, has seen progress grind to a halt as the country found itself locked in a civil war. Some believe this war to be primarily tribal. I believe it to be more political than tribal; the birthing pains of a young democracy. South Sudan will rebound but not without a heavy human cost. In the meantime the fragile infrastructure of the country is breaking down. For the most recent TeachMe:AkuakRak team this caused some issues as we attempted to move from city to town to village. It caused more issues as we tried to come back from village to town to city.

One morning, as we rose in Akuak Rak and began to mix our instant coffee (think Nescafe, 1973) I asked my buddy Jeff to share with us our verse for the day. Jeff is in a pattern of writing out verses each day in a notebook. He also has the spiritual gifting to review them and hear exactly what God is saying for the day or for the occasion.

Jeff began to read Proverbs 16:9. In essence that we make plans but that God orders our steps. I have learned that when He begins to order them it isn't always the same order that I would bring. I have also learned that as He orders my steps the best response I can have is one of surrender. I can fight it, but usually to no avail. It is also true that the times I did prevail as He was ordering my steps I was sorry that I did!

In any event, as Jeff shared the “verse for the day” I wondered what the Lord might have in store. As it turned out, this was the day the team would find out that the nearest airport to us, three hours away, was closed. This meant that we would miss the international flight out of the capital.  Without a flight travel to Juba is a three day drive across unsafe countryside. I must admit that at this point I had no clue what to do and was very unsure of how we were getting home in a reasonable amount of time. I was also concerned about the expense of it. I knew that changing eight international tickets would not be inexpensive. It was about that time that someone on the team reminded us, “God is leading our steps.” I smiled, nodded in agreement, and bowed my head in disbelief.

Three days later, as we miraculously flew out of Juba, homeward by way of Cairo and Frankfurt, I began to think more about Jeff's “verse of the day.” We had made our way out. It did cost money for the change fees, but we arrived at the counter for our international flight five minutes before it closed.   It was true God had ordered our steps, even in minute detail.

As we flew, I began to think about all we have seen happen in Akuak Rak over the years. We have seen pastors trained. We have ventured into the bush to find Darfurians who once killed many in this area so that the Good News of the Kingdom could be shared with them. We were privileged to bring in supplies for a new medical clinic. We were able to help launch a new church in the city of Raja, when it was on the frontline of the civil war between north and south Sudan. We have been allowed to minister and preach to many soldiers and community leaders. There has been encouragement and grief ministry for many of the women there who witnessed horrific things in the war. There is now a primary school for released slave children and other needy children in the area. This time we planted a mango grove that will move the school and the children a step closer to being self sustained.

As I reflected on all God has allowed ATC and me personally to be a part of in Akuak Rak I was amazed. The place is so different now, than when we began so many years ago. Then I heard Jeff reading, “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.”
Written by Dave Fuller, 10 July 2014