Those of you who have been on a true physical battleground probably had an instantaneous memory flash back when you read the title of this post. Maybe some of you who have experienced a shooting range might have an inclination (no offense, but it’s not the same). Either way, the fact that there is a certain smell in the air that makes you recall a certain moment in your life is the spark behind what has been rolling through my mind this past week and the smell of war is like no other.
Last Sunday, we officially started attending Iglesia Christiana Comunitaria Ciudad de Refugio (City of Refuge Community Christian Church for you non Español types). It is the church we will be partnering with first as we continue to follow God’s will for us in Guatemala. Honestly, it feels like home. It feels just like the Guatemalan equivalent of York Christian Church, our home church and one of the churches that has sent us forward to serve here. We have been immediately accepted as family and even though we have come here to serve the church and its community, its members continue to tell us, “please let us know how we may serve you.” As I sat there Sunday listening to Pastor Jorge preaching about the presence of God and the work of the Holy Spirit, the smell of war was overpowering.
I recall it wafting into my nostrils as we climbed the steep hill to Linda Vista to get to the church. Again, it smacked me in the face when we stepped into the church, embraced by the pastor and his family. Repeatedly, the scent continued to remind me of times I have spent in the desert wearing body armor, leather boots, and carrying a rifle. As the pastor preached from Acts 19 about the Apostle Paul performing miracles through the Holy Spirit and the Jewish Exorcists being literally spanked by evil spirits because they did not have the power of God behind them, it clicked; more than ever we are now in a spiritual war. You may recall my previous post when we were packing to leave the United States about the Call to Battle. It seems we are entering the next phase of the operation.
It continues to amaze me how much my military life transfers over into being a missionary. I am continuously able to apply my past experience and training from physical warfare to spiritual warfare. The Apostle Paul reminds us in Ephesians 6 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Do you think it is a coincidence that the portion from Acts that the pastor was preaching on Sunday was Luke’s account of Paul in Ephesus when the church was founded there (before he wrote the Ephesians about spiritual warfare)? I’m not one for coincidences, since too many of them happen in my life to be simple happenstance.
As we cruise through the only parts of Linda Vista that we currently know, it seems like the calm before the storm. It makes me think of the few war movies that show a scene of the battle commander surveying the battleground before or after the battle occurs. It’s serene and calm, but gives off the essence of pain, suffering, and fierce struggle. Everyone that is on the battlefield is hardened and although they may be enemies, they still are united by a common element: giving your all until there is none left to be given.
We don’t know what all is in store for us on that hill. Like my Marine brothers from the Battle of Chapultepec, I anticipate we will earn our blood stripes as we lock shields with our brothers and sisters in Christ who have already secured a beach head and await reinforcements to advance forward. Our training is over; it is time to put to use what we have learned. Keep us in your prayers as we push onward toward the goal that God has given us.