The Face of Fear

As I left the restaurant where I had just met my new Central Asian friend, who we’ll call *Anah (Anah means “Answer” in Hebrew and this girl was an answer to my prayers) for the second time, excitement filled my heart!  This is the same girl that I wrote about in my latest post.  After our first meeting, I wasn’t sure if this Muslim girl would want to meet with me again since I had very openly shared about Jesus with her, but she eagerly agreed to meet me at a restaurant a week later.  We had a wonderful time and the words I chose to use were intentionally sprinkled with Truths from God’s Word in an attempt to plant God’s Word in her heart without her even realizing it.  Before I had to leave, we took a picture together and she asked me to let her know when we can get together again!  After leaving the restaurant, I posted that picture of the two of us on social media, and that’s when it happened….

The first “likes” that our picture received were from my Christian friends from back home, but then one by one, *Anah’s friends started “liking” our picture.  As I clicked on the first of her friends to “like” it, his face changed me.  I clutched my phone as fear gripped my heart and anxiety shot through my body.  This man, this Muslim man who does not know Jesus, is “liking” one of my pictures and I don’t know him and I don’t know what he is capable of as a lost person.  Fear had taken my heart captive and my thoughts were consumed.  All I could think about were the stories of persecution and honor killings that take place in *Anah’s country…the very country that is about to be my home.  I have never been to this country in Central Asia, and I have never met a person from there either.  Prior to becoming friends with *Anah, these people were just an idea.  Moving there and sharing Jesus sounded like a good idea, but I had no connection to them.  After I met *Anah, the idea of these people became a reality.  She became my connection to them.  And prior to seeing the face of the man who actually knows *Anah and took the time to “like” my picture, the stories of men who persecute and even kill Muslim women who choose Jesus – who choose Life – was just a thought.  His eyes seared through the screen of my phone and in that instant, my imagination danced wildly with the gut wrenching stories I’ve heard, and Fear had a face. Fear had a name.

My hands trembled as I scrolled through his profile.  The words of my constant prayers pleading with the Father for *Anah’s salvation were playing back through my mind.  As my mind started to put the puzzle pieces together of a fictional story that represented a very real possibility for all Muslims who choose Jesus, and for the missionaries for that matter, the encouragement from a friend was brought to mind…

“Jesus first, only, always”

This friend, this mentor, has been telling me this phrase lately.  Her words began to pull my heart back from the slippery slope of wavering trust that it was sliding down. As I envisioned *Anah choosing to allow Jesus to snap the chains of Islam from her heart and that this could mean death….and it could be because I told her about Jesus…my heart grieved.

“Then Jesus said to His disciples, If anyone desires to be My disciple, let him deny himself [disregard, lose sight of, and forget himself and his own interests] and take up his cross and follow Me [cleave steadfastly to Me, conform wholly to My example in living and, if need be, in dying, also].” ~Matthew 16:24, AMP

Wait a second….I would be playing a role in someone’s death? Yes. That’s exactly what that means.

I was being faced head on with the reality that I must choose to share the Gospel, knowing it could result in the death of someone but an eternity in Heaven or I could choose to keep my mouth shut so I could selfishly have them on earth for a long time.  But that second choice, the one my flesh gravitates towards, would mean an  { e t e r n i t y }  separated from Jesus.  An eternity in Hell.  What a paradox the Christian life can be, but as the scriptures say, His ways are higher than ours.  This moment of choosing to always share the Gospel, knowing that no matter what happens on this earth, it will be worth it, was a moment of joyful sorrow.  It was a moment of choosing to have brokenhearted boldness and trusting Him with and through my grief.  It was a moment where I remembered that while Fear may have a face and Fear may have a name, so does the One who demolishes fear.  Jesus first, only, always.  Salvation also has a name – the most powerful name in existence, and while I have not seen His face, I know His heart.  I have tasted of His saving power and I have seen Him resurrect my broken life.  My faith in Jesus gives me confidence to hope in the unseen when I am faced with unthinkable fear.

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” ~Hebrews 11:1

Fear is a stronghold for many missionaries.  We are in a war and when our teacher last week told us that “martyrdom is a possibility on standby for every believer,” I started to give in to fear and I let up a little in my constant battle to choose faith over fear.  When Jesus is first, only, and always on my mind, the Word of God easily becomes my sword that the Spirit uses to demolish every stronghold of the enemy. When Jesus is first, only, and always on my mind, He becomes the stronghold of my life and a mighty fortress that I can take refuge in!

“For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” ~2 Corinthians 10:4-5

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.  And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.” ~Ephesians 6:1-20

“The Lord is my Light and my Salvation—whom shall I fear or dread? The Lord is the Refuge and Stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?” ~Psalm 27:1

Sometimes this ordinary girl from small town America cannot believe some of the topics the Lord places on her heart to write about.  I never thought that I would be moving to a foreign land where people are persecuted for following Jesus when I was this age, and I certainly never thought I would have to grieve my future best friends choosing to say no to Jesus and never seeing them again in eternity or them choosing to say yes to Jesus and possibly saying goodbye to them earlier than I had hoped.  I always envisioned myself building a house with my husband and filling that house with children who lived a very ordinary childhood.  I envisioned myself always being able to just jump in my car, drop my kids off at school, and then having coffee with my English speaking girlfriends. But instead we live a transient lifestyle that will take us into the thick of spiritual warfare.  My children, who will undoubtedly know more joy and have a deeper understanding of the gospel than I can even fathom, will also speak multiple languages, never truly feel like they have a home country, and hear the Call to Prayer throughout every single day. 

Thank you for all the prayers!  We are all in this together and my husband and I cannot tell you how thankful we are for faithful brothers and sisters in Christ who are interceding on our behalf! We are still so new at all of this and are learning to battle many of the fears that the enemy uses against workers in the part of the world that we will be living in! Please pray that as we continue to learn and prepare that we will keep our minds clearly focused on Jesus – first, only, and always. He is faithful and we are so thankful to be experiencing Him on a whole new level as He continues to break our comfort zone!

“You will keep in perfect peace
those whose minds are steadfast,
because they trust in you.” ~Isaiah 26:3

“The presence of hope in the invincible sovereignty of God drives out fear.” ~John Piper

*Names have been changed for security reasons