I can't tell you how many times I heard that in preparing for this trip. It's got to be in the hundreds.
And I love y'all, because I take this to mean that you genuinely care about me and want me to come back to your lives in one piece. That makes me feel loved, so thanks for that!
But I haven't known how to respond, because "safe" is like number zero on my list of priorities for this trip.
What I want you to pray, and what I have needed you to say to me, is, "be used," "be poured out," "be broken," "radically follow Jesus," "listen for his voice," and "love his people well."
I make it a practice of rereading The Chronicles of Narnia every year around Christmas time because I am in love with the way that C.S. Lewis portrays Christ and the Christian life. This week while reading Prince Caspian for approximately the 17th time, I reached my favorite part of the series, where Lucy must choose to follow Aslan alone. It's this critical moment when Lucy must choose for herself whether or not Aslan is worth the risk of looking foolish and of braving the wildnerness on her own without the support of the others. It takes a couple of missteps and some regret, but she finally makes the right decision.
Because she has seen the beauty and goodness of Aslan and can't make any other choice.
Guys, I need you to understand something. There is literally no danger great enough that it would have made this trip not worth it. This is where Jesus is, and this is where he has called me, and having known him and his beauty, there was no other choice.
He is in himself life, and to have turned away would be to choose death.
I've had multiple people tell me that they're worried about terrorist attacks and that there will be ISIS operatives in the camps or that I'll die out here. And I have some thoughts in relation to that:
1. I genuinely think that the truth has been twisted about what is happening here and that FOX news has become a tool of the enemy to teach us to hate and fear the people Jesus loves. I think that God's heart is breaking about the way that the American church has responded to this refugee crisis and I don't want to be a part of making him cry.
2. Regarding facing an ISIS operative: Dear Jesus, how great would that be? I can't imagine a more incredible privilege than to love my enemy in such a way. I'm praying that every cup of water, every rationed meal, heaps blessings on top of the heads of those who receive them and that the words that have gone out from our lips won't return empty- regardless of how those people feel about me and the Jesus I serve.
3. My life has always belonged to Jesus. He can do what he wants with it.
I have absolutely no fears that this will happen, but I do want each and everyone of you to know that if I were to die on this trip (a freak moto accident or a bad kebab is more likely than a terrorist attack) I would have absolutely no regrets. None. Zero. In fact, I think it would be the most incredible honor of my life to have followed Jesus here.
My girl, Amy Carmichael, wrote: "If my spirit be one of fear, not faith, then I know nothing about calvary love."
I've tasted calvary love. It met me at my darkest, scooped me up, and set me in the light. It's the love that sent God to live in the dirt, poverty, and danger of humanity, knowing that he would be killed and rejected by those he came to love.
I want to live it and breathe it, the radical love that it is, and I'm so grateful that Jesus is giving me the opportunity to do so here.
I love you all, and I'm praying that you too know this radical calvary love. I'm praying that you see the face of Aslan, of Jesus, and that you are so captivated by his love and beauty that he drives out all fear. I'm praying that the church becomes infected with this love and that Jesus breaks the chains that bind us to fear and comfort so that we can take him seriously when he says to take his gospel to the ends of the world.
Because the fact of the matter is, the ends of the world are now knocking at our doors begging to be let in.
"Courage, dear heart(s)."