Serving under fire
October 30, 2017 at 6:00 AM
Serving under fire
In 2008 I met a Christian Armenian physician at a medical conference in Europe. I had the opportunity to tell him about the Luke Society and to explore some possibilities for ministry in Armenia.
He was working as a medical missionary to Syria. After that meeting in Europe we lost contact, but I thought about him many times, wondering if he made it home safely to Armenia when the war broke out in Syria.
Last month, I unexpectedly ran into him again when I met with a group of Christian medical missionaries in Asia. I found out he had chosen to stay in Syria throughout the war, working in a hospital, treating casualties of the conflict.
He explained that working in Syria was his calling.
He showed me pictures of his home and his hospital which were destroyed by bombings. He showed pictures and told stories of patients killed by the war. And he knew entire Christian families who were executed when they refused to denounce their faith. He described two incidents when bullets passed by him, once killing the person standing next to him.
He was well known for being a Christian, and was obviously at very high risk of being targeted for execution.
When I met him in Europe nine years earlier, I wouldn’t have guessed that he would have the courage to voluntarily stay and work in a war zone, and risk his life for his faith. I also was amazed by the faith of the Syrian Christians who suffered torture and death rather than renounce their faith.
I couldn’t help wonder if I would have the strength and courage to persevere under those circumstances.
My Christian Armenian friend told me that God gives the strength you need when the circumstances require. “God gives ordinary people the strength to do extraordinary work for His Kingdom.”
That really is the story of all the heroes of the faith we read about in the Bible. They were ordinary men and women made extraordinary by the Spirit working in their hearts. It is such a privilege to see God continue to work in that way today. To God be the glory!