To Hell and Back For the Greater Good

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The most critical issue facing Christianity and one that I agree with is its enchant for dreariness. Dangerous is a story of a good old Nebraskan man’s quest to spread the word of the Lord in the world’s most dangerous places and in doing so changing this ever-present philosophy that religion is boring. His dream as a youth pastor became a reality when he decided it was time to put himself in the mouth of madness and become an “unusual soldier of God.” Caleb does this by doing ministry on Earth’s “13th Floor”. Between witches, Congolese rebels, gay bars, cannibals, strip clubs; there are no doors to the 13th Floor, in order to experience it you must go to them because they sure as hell won’t come to you. These environments are all over the world and foster the feeling that anybody in their right mind would not want to step foot in because of direct fear and complete denial of their existence. To sum it up The 13th Floor is dark, dangerous, and despised. Dark in that the Gospel is nowhere close to becoming a functional reality of a region, much like the Motilone tribe living in the Amazon Basin. Dangerous signifies the places where physical threat against humanity is prevalent, like the Pavon prison in Guatemala where as the old saying goes; but is often utilized in jest, “the inmates truly run the asylum.” Despised represents the people that are unwanted, unloved, uncared for, and forgotten by everybody. The Gypsies commonly referred to as “Romani” are generally misunderstood due to misconceptions that are prevalent in Eastern Europe. For the rest of us these are generally non-negotiable elements when discussing potential destination spots, but for Caleb and his work this is an ideal opportunity for a breakthrough. These are merely roadblocks to serving the Lord the best, and only way he knows how, without fear and acceptance of death.

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“But he knew that death was not to be feared – it was just a change of atmosphere,
a door to a greater life. He was willing to be poured out for the sake of the Lord.”

Between 1850-1950 ten thousand missionaries were sent to areas of the world with endemic tropical diseases knowing 80% or more of them would die within 2 years. In present times the presence of courageous Christians is sadly becoming an endangered species, that is why Caleb refers to the ready, willing, and able as “unusual soldiers.” For long-term sustainability as well as growth, Christianity and it’s followers need to evolve from being life-enhancing to life-changing whereby risk takers are rewarded with a louder voice and a greater reach.

“I think their are temptations in ministry to become a polished performer rather
than an empowered disciple.”

My relationship with the Lord, as I have come to believe is one of understanding. I have always felt the presence of God looking over me through the good and bad times. However; his presence during the bad times is clearly undeniable. It has been said by followers that when you bypass your inner voice for sin’s sake God will most definitely hold you accountable. Lucky for me, today I am fully cognizant of that fact and try to stay on the sunny side of street. This is where the realization between us is one of understanding. I feel confident that when I see God I may not be hugged and kissed, but their will be a wink, nod of recognition complete with smirk because we’re cool like that.

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I have never been accused of being the proverbial bible-thumper, but I have always believed in the practice of the golden rule by “doing unto others as you would have them do unto you.”Growing up within the Catholic school system I never went to church more than I had to. During one school year in grade 3 as a class of around 25 we walked and went to church every day for 20 school days from the first week of Advent to the fourth. That is 20 walks to-and-fro from November 27th to December 22nd during the chilly Canadian weather. Now hate is a strong word, but I was truly bored by the dullness of church as a child. From genuflecting, to the sign of peace where you shake your neighbours hands, up until receiving the body I was in my own little dream world. After receiving the body my whole temperament would change, I would start singing the hymns at the top of my voice, I would also finish the mass with the priest because of familiarity, I was just happy that it was almost over. Upon further reflection maybe the daily bread gave me life for a different reason. Maybe not.

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“Fear is only a thief that will only rob you of your God-given potential”

To Caleb it is not about having a resume full of Dangerous trips or a camera full of impressive pictures and videos. It is about listening and obeying the whisper, burden, or impression prompted by the Holy Spirit and giving God the glory whatever the outcome may be. Their were a lot of aspects of the book that I enjoyed. For example, the chronology of the development of Christianity in the “Movement of Acts” chart. It shows how followers initially grew from 120 to 3000 all the way to 1.2 million by the end of Acts which I believe was 30 years. Today, 1/3 of the world’s population are followers, making Christianity the perfect representation of the multiplicity found in the Guppy fish. Another feature I enjoyed was how Caleb makes it a point to keep his unusual soldiers conferences small and intimate. You hear that Joel Osteen, while he’s trying to fill Dallas Cowboy Stadium which seats 85,000 Caleb keeps his cutoff number at 30 in order to efficiently train the die-hard’s.

“Ask not of what we did for God, but of what you did through God”
My spin on Caleb’s quote with a little JFK influence

For me I thought the first half of the book did a great job of mixing the religion with adventure and not coming across as an overpowering agenda piece. The last half of the book kind of went the wrong way for my liking. There were still great stories but I would have preferred a different tone. In the end I would recommend this book to hardcore followers of God and people that don’t let the religious presence deter you from a potential enjoyable read.

*Hello everybody, I am huge Mixed Martial Arts fan and while reading Dangerous a name that kept popping up was that of Justin Wren. I first saw him while he was on the reality show The Ultimate Fighter and during my internet perusal I have come across his work in Africa. Oddly enough after reading the book their was an update on his work and some of the complications he faced. This is directly copied from a website that got it from his Facebook account, so I thought I should include it as a way of highlighting the courage, strength and determination of these amazing people.

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Nov 25th:

I have a bad case of Typhoid Fever according to blood test results… I could use some prayers! I have never had such a crazy roller coaster ride in health, one minute I’m uncontrollably shaking, the next minute I’m BURNING up and sweating, and at all times every joint is THROBBING. The power is out in Congo and I’ve been given treatment/shots by cell phone flashlights so the doc could see. It’s quite an experience… However, I praise God for giving me PEACE during this all! Truly. He is with me. It’s just giving me another opportunity to understand and experience the DAILY suffering of my Pygmy family, and I pray I can use this experience to give them even more of a voice. I get to share in their weakness… PRAISE GOD!
1 Corinthians 9:22-23
22 When I am with those who are weak, I share their weakness, for I want to bring the weak to Christ. Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some. 23 I do everything to spread the Good News and share in its blessings.

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Nov 26th:

URGENT UPDATE! Malaria, vomiting & “the otherside” are added to my list with typhoid. Tender Warriors, please keep the prayers coming! My temp is going between 95.8 to 103.6 and we are battling with good meds & MIGHTY prayers. Once again, I have to take a moment to PRAISE God Some might wonder, “Why!?!?” In my human/fleshly side I might want to ask the same question… But my heart & spirit says, “God sent me, Jesus covers me, & The Holy Spirit is with me.” What more could I ask for? One man with God is always the majority, God lacks nothing, Jesus plus nothing equals EVERYTHING. Ironically, I count this “triple threat” (malaria, typhoid, & diarrhea) as a triple blessing. You see, these 3 sicknesses are individually, the top three killers of my Pygmy family. No wonder they have BOTH: The worlds worst child mortality rate AND the shortest life expectancy. I get to experience them all in one single shot, and, I have MEDICINE & PRAYERS. When God asked me to “Defend the weak, LOVE the unloved, & be a Voice to the voiceless” He didn’t promise me all sunshine and rainbows… In fact He asked me to FIGHT for the forgotten. The ones who 99.99% of this world don’t care about, or who hate, despise, & enslave them. The life of a Pygmy slave, my family, is the hardest of any people group. Mine wont be peaches&cream 100% of the time. A fight comes with battle wounds, a fight is a struggle. God promised me that He’d be WITH me, guiding me, loving me. Jesus promised that His heart is with the least of these… He also said when we love them, we love HIM! The USA is so blind to this suffering. The vast majority of the USA isn’t suffering from these sicknesses, but DO suffer from apathy, indifference, & sometimes callousness. I pray that the suffering of my Pygmy family can open blind eyes & soften hearts further. I pray TRUE CHRISTIANS can find practical, radical, life-SAVING, lasting solutions instead of the temporary, quick-fix, band-aid cover ups that give us warm tingly’s.

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Today Nov. 27th 2013:

Not out of the woods yet, my esophagus and throat is raw from vomiting so much. My fever fluctuated for the fourth (almost fifth) day in a row up to 103.8 and all the way down to 94.1and is nnow back to 102.8. I’m on my fifth IV and 3 docs and 3 nurses are rotating 24 hr watch, plus my team has been by my side the whole time. BLESSED for that. Please continue the prayers… GREAT things are to come! Uesu ni bwana (Jesus is the Lord in swahili)! What am I Thankful for? Being in Congo, my BEAUTIFUL bride to be Emily, my friends and family back home, my Pygmy family here, my amazing team of Congolese mighty men, and my God who loves, loves, LOVES the hell outta anyone, at anytime, in any circumstance… If we let him. He loved the hell outta me and the mess away from me 3 years, 7 months, and 21days ago. Thank you God for loving this very imperfect person and definite work in progress!

 

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