September 11th, A Beginning Of Sorts

When the first plane the World Trade Center I was getting my hair cut in Strasbourg, France.  It was a normal day for me.  I was the Executive Director of the European Centre for Law and Justice, an organization that was dedicated to fighting for religious freedom in Europe using the court systems of the Continent.  I was just months into my assignment—fulfilling a lifelong ambition.


Like every other person in the western world I knew that our world changed radically on that day.  I was four or five thousands miles from home with a pregnant wife and a six year old son.  We were immediately cut off from home—every plane headed into America from anywhere in the world was grounded for nearly a week.  Phone systems were shut down from the volume of calls.  We sat in our apartment and watched the twin towers collapse.  We watched the Pentagon burn.  We watched a field in Pennsylvania burn. 


We were devastated, we were filled with fear.  On the streets Muslims paraded.  They chanted anti-American slogans and were generally empowered in their hopes of bringing Islam to the west.


This was not the beginning of the war on western culture by Muslim fanatics.  Europe had been experiencing the effects of this war for decades.  Bombs on subways had long been a reality of living.  Some of the bombs were from local terror groups and some were from Muslim fanatics.  Regardless of the source, the bombs have had their effect.  The question they raise to me now is: “Are we prepared to be so committed to our faith?”


By this question I do not mean are we willing to kill others for the benefit of our beliefs.  I mean are we prepared to live in such a way as to die to ourselves for the sake of the Gospel.


It took me several years to regain my place.  I struggled with the aftereffects of terror for those years.  Many days I sat in my office fighting anger, fear, sadness, and other negative emotions begun that day in September.  My family suffered with me.  They knew I was struggling.  They knew I was fighting to regain my equilibrium. 


Their faithfulness and prayers are what got me through those troubled times.  I was troubled for a number of reasons.  I would like to say they were reasons of great struggle with the larger spiritual issues surrounding the new world we found ourselves walking through.  It would not be true, however.


My struggles were primarily over the ruins in which these events had left my dreams.  I did not respond immediately by rising up and determining to find my place in the new world.  Instead I did what many of us did.  I wondered through the new world in a daze.  Many days I literally sat in front of my computer lost in thought, not working, not moving forward—mourning the loss of a dream.


Like God does so often, He took those dark days and built in me a strength for the future.  I came out of this fog, after much prayer, stronger than I went in.  I came out determined to make a difference in our world like never before.  Not a difference made by doing huge things for God, but a difference made by doing the little things that were placed in front of me.


Now, nearly seven years later I am working in Europe continuing the fight for religious freedom.  I am much leaner, with my own ministry rather than attached to a big ministry.  Many would look at my efforts and declare that you cannot fill an ocean by spitting in a hole in the ground.  I would say to those people that they do not understand the nature of God.


God is big, bigger than we have ever been able to imagine.  He does not require big men and big ministries to make big differences.  He requires men with big hearts and big trust in Him.


As a result of this new direction I have begun an ambitious campaign.  It is not ambitious in terms of the big ministries, it is ambitious to me because between June and the end of September 2008 I will be out of the country five times on ministry trips.  I am helping with two trials in Europe. 


The first trial is in Oslo, Norway. The second trial is in a small town in eastern Germany, just over the Polish border.  The ambition is not the trials, or even the trips, even though the trips will be hard on my family.  The ambition is that we are beginning this summer totally depending on God to supply the needs.


He will have to supply our needs; we do not have a huge fund-raising machine.  He will have to supply the strength; international travel is very draining—even more so when the finances are not struggling.


I am doing this out of obedience to God.  I know what He has called me to.  I know what my job is. 


I am also doing this out of a sense that someone has to stand up for the helpless.  Many of the people we represent do not have anywhere else to turn.  At times when I have thought the road was too hard, too long, or too lonely, I have been revived by the thought of those men and women we are standing with.  Who will help them if we do not stand for them?


I particularly remember a short conversation I had with a family in Germany.  They dropped me off at the airport in Frankfurt.  As I prepared to grab my bags to fly home to my family, the wife pulled me to her.  As she hugged me she said quietly to me:  “Please do not forget us.”


That one statement has begun to define my calling in ministry.  I cannot forget these gentle souls who have no one to stand up for their rights.  They have no one to be there for them if we are not there.  Their stories are not juicy.  They are not the stories that always inspire the funders.  They are the stories that will decide how religious freedom continues in Europe.  We must be there.


I must be there.  I am compelled by my calling to be there.  I will be there.


0 Responses to “September 11th, A Beginning Of Sorts”

  1. Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Books Worth Reading

C.S. LEWIS--Mere Christianity; CLAIRE BERLINSKI--Menace in Europe: Why the Continent's Crisis is America's Crisis, Too; BRUCE BAWER--While Europe Slept: How Radical islam is Destroying the West from Within; DAVID LEVERING LEWIS--God's Crucible: Islam and the Making of Europe, 570-1215; THOMAS SCHIRRMACHER--The Persecution of Christians Concerns Us All; PHILIP JENKINS--God's Continent: Christianity, Islam, and Europe's Religious Crisis

Top Clicks

  • None

%d bloggers like this: