Me brain hurts & Questions to ponder


We're been learning how to learn languages. Phoenetics drills. Who knew the mouth could make so many sounds? Lots of using the brain. SPLICE (the previous program) was more emotionally exhausting. PILAT (Program In Language Aquisition Techniques) is brain exhausting! We napped a lot on Saturday and played spoons. Our brains needed the rest. But it is fantastic at filling our language-learning tool box to the brim. In learning both Spanish and Mam (the Mayan language) we will exhaust our newly stocked box...but we will be equipped as we never thought to learn. Fantastic.

Ok. Now onto another topic.

A few weeks ago I posted about a scenario where we went through a mock guerilla hostage situation. Peope were "killed" in the drill although we later came to find out that they had been spared and only used as a bluff to the government. The purpose of the drill was to awaken us to the reality of severe trauma on the mission field and to test how we would respond to it; how we commnicated, who would step up and lead, how would we make life-and-death decisions with no time to ponder them. I hope it didn't seem like we just waltzed out the door singing "Amazing Grace" while people shot us. We attempted to "fight" but in reality weren't going to clock our instructor in the face with our flashlight and steal his cap-gun. When we resisted they grabbed someone and before we knew what to do they were shot. It was scary and it was supposed to be. It was designed to teach us to prepare. But it brings up some good questions:

Do you fight back? How? How does your calling as a missionary change what you do? Were I single, the answers are easy. But with a wife a baby, well, that's another story. What does trusting the Lord really look like? Is it trusting Him to shoot another person in that situation? Is it trusting Him not to? When Paul says that, "To live is Christ and to die is gain", what does he really mean? That verse gets tossed around in the US so we can wear our badge of humility and say, "I would die for Jesus." Peter said that too and then under pressure he denied he even knew Him. Who do you really trust and how does that pan out in reality? Tough questions. Any thoughts?


Schweers' Mom said...

That is a really good question to ponder. I don't know that you can know the answer in advance. I think it's like trying to imagine a really horribly tragedy in your life and saying, "I don't know what I would do if ____ happened to me." To that I would say, none of us do, but God gives us grace for our situation and not our imagination. I think this scenario is the same - I think you pray that if you are ever in that situation, God will give you the grace and wisdom to know what to do.

I know if pressed, it would be very difficult for most anyone to die for Jesus. We take our freedom for granted in this country and we never think that we could be persecuted (to death) for our faith.

Great thoughts - I'm enjoying reading about your training!

Mike Messerli said...


I just got back from Russia a few hours ago, but wanted to add my thoughts. When we have already given our lives to Christ then the questions at the time of crisis will not be an issue. Of course we will be afraid, we're human, but I think that the decision to give our lives for Christ have already been made, we seem to fear what "might happen". Well, as Jesus said, fear the one who can cast body and sould into hell, but don't fear the guy who "can only kill your body". I have always thought that sounded weird, don't you? In the world we think that when they kill the body they have done their worse, and they think that too, but God looks at things differently...fear, according to Jesus, is a decision of who you will fear, and if our fear is in the right one then the situations we face will be part of the adventure of living and dying for Christ. Just my thoughts...

Mike Messerli

Brandon and Jenny said...

You know, it's fascinating (at least to me) to be thinking about this on Independence day. Human life has such deep and inherent value...but life here on planet earth is not all there is.

When Jesus says there is no greater love than he who would give his life for his friend, He's not talking about being dedicated or sacraficing your time. He's talking about dying, you know, death. And it's a demonstration of LOVE.

I have a responsibility to my wife and child. But who is in control? Is it me or is it God? Do I trust my ability to control my circumstances or do I trust God to do what is eternally best for us? It doesn't make much sense for me to surrender my life to Christ and then when life gets scary (or gets taken away from me) un-surrender and take control. I'm not talking about being unwise or irresponsible, but you can be perfectly wise in living and die for your faith - and nothing's wrong with that!

Christ promised eternal life to those who believe, that even those who die will live forever. And for all but a few of us that means we die first. How and when we die is in His hands. And, some folks aren't going to like this, but I'm going to leave them there because I'd rather put my life in my Father's good hands and "lose" my life then try and take my life into my own terribly small hands.

We tend to lessen the reality of eternity because we have been duped into thinking life here is somehow good enough; maybe even a little better. After all, won't we get bored floating around paying harps? Our concept of heaven is so perverted that we (myself included) fail to long for it properly or realize the utter horror of the alternative. Lord, keep my feet here and my eyes on eternity.

Whew. THAT was a not a short response!

Mike Messerli said...

But it was a good one. Great thoughts. Onward and upward, eh?

Mike Messerli

Brandon and Jenny said...

Onward and upward! Follow the King!

OCDmunkey said...

My answer is, and always will be this:

God gave male sheep (rams) horns for a reason.

I think it's wrong to let somebody execute you without fighting back to protect your family or yourself.

I think the Bible is very clear that it's OK to kill under certain conditions. God even commanded it on occassion.

You have a responsibility and a duty to protect yourself and your family, even to the expense of the life of another human being [the terrorist(s) depicted in the scenario] who has chosen by his own free will to engage in conduct that puts his own life at risk.

The scenario, as I understod it, involved terrorists committing a terrorist act, and I know of no place in the Bible where it says sit in the corner and sing "Amazing Grace" while they drag you and your friends outside, line you up, and cover the sidewalk with bits of your hair, skull, and brain matter.

Christianity has had enough martyrs throughout history - how about we don't add any more, huh? They're remembered in reverent whispers, but I'll bet their children wished their Daddy and Mommy was still around. I don't want my daughter to weep at my funeral because I decided to let some thug put one between my eyes to prove a point.

You always have a choice. Be defiant - fight to the death. Always.

I'm willing to die for God, my daughter, and maybe even a total stranger to save their life, but I'm willing to kill a bad guy to protect myself and my family a hell of a lot faster.

I'm not going quietly, for any reason, and if you ask me, neither should anybody else.

One more point:
I don't know that you can know the answer in advance.

In the police academy they drilled it into our head that you HAVE to have your mind made up BEFORE the situation occurs - or your odds of surviving go way down.

Just my two cents, respectfully submitted, ma'am. :-)

Brandon and Jenny said...

Excellent! Now that's honesty, Ian.

I would like to make a clarification.

I admit I may be wrong on this, but I think there is a difference between some guy coming into my house and trying to hurt me or anyone else and someone telling me, "Renounce Jesus as your Savior or I'll kill you." or even, "Stop telling people about Jesus or we'll kill you."

I'm not saying it's wrong to protect yourself or other innocent people. Matter of fact, dying to save another's life is a very good thing (not as good as saving their life and living, though).

Abraham, Moses, Joshua and David all went to war and for a whole bunch of reasons and yet they were (and still are) men of faith.

But Stephen didn't fight back. All the apostles (except John) died violent deaths because they were disciples.

What's the difference? Stephen was certainly no less brave than David or Joshua nor was he more righteous.

So what's different?

WONDERFUL discussion!

Brandon and Jenny said...

This is Jenny:
This is very hard for me. From my limited understanding of the scriptures, there doesn't seem to be justification for retaliation. All I see is submit and trust God. It is one thing to "trust" God with my own life. Where I struggle, is this question: Do I REALLY trust God with the life of my little baby. I would have said the answer is yes until this scenario, when the thought of leaving him without a mommy, or the thought of losing him because of a decision I made makes me question if I really believe that God knows what is best. Boy, have I had to wrestle with this. I want to trust God. I want to be so confident that my heavenly Father will take care as He sees fit that I will forsake ALL things to follow the His call. (Using the wisdom that God has given us!!) God has promised trouble. Here in America, we avoid suffering at ALL COST! Is that Biblical? Is that taking up our cross and following Him. I have to answer that question now. Deacon my get sick because of this. Any one of us could die at any time. Do I REALLY trust my God? Am I willing to put my life where my mouth is?

I also want to clarify the scenario we were given: We did not have any weapons. A group of (armed) rebels had taken over the city we lived in. We were hiding out in an attic. We were discovered by the rebels later and treated well at first. It wasn't until later that they determined to "kill" two of us to make a point to the government that they were rebelling against. The men that had taken leadership of our group were not only responsible for their own lives, but the lives of all of the other young men and women in the compound. In this particular situation, fighting back might have meant the death of all of the other hostages. As it turns out, they didn't even really "kill" anyone, but faked their deaths to get the government to listen to their demands. Had the leadership fought back (by taking their weapons and killing the few rebels they could before they were shot) then those fake deaths would have been real. Again, this was only a scenario, and no one had any weapons and no one was hurt, but it is important to think through the risks. Guatemala is comparatively safe.

OCDmunkey said...


....there is a difference between some guy coming into my house and trying to hurt me or anyone else and someone telling me, "Renounce Jesus as your Savior or I'll kill you."

Agreed - 100% The situations are different- until you look at the end result to you.

Man - this is REALLY sticky. IF you were in violation of an unjust law (as was Daniel) and were forced to recant by whatever version of a judge was present or face death, I might go.

I guess I'm struggling with the difference between a random attack/terrorist act VS. a systematic elimination if your faith. For some reason I can totally understand dying for your faith in a situation like Stephen or the rest of the disciples, but when you're attacked under what seems to be a marginally unrealted situation I have a much harder time with it. I know the logic breaks down, but I'm not sure why.

May be it's a legal sentencing vs. being a crime victim.

I'd still try to get that gun away from the bad guy but I think Cassie Bernall dies a hero to our faith.


....there doesn't seem to be justification for retaliation.

Defense of life and retaliation are two different things. Protection does not equal revenge.

By the way, I completely respect the strength of your faith and your committment. I don't know that I have the same degree of trust that the two of you are exhibiting in what you're doing. I'm sure that my stance on this is at least in part a reflection of that.

(Ironically, that's a whole 'nother issue I'm dealing with in counseling, and something I've struggled with for nearly 20 years.)

We did not have any weapons.

Ah- when you guys get back I'll show you ways to overcome that. Trust me. And I've hit people with both flashlights and radios- they do work, I promise :-)

I am glad the scenario turned out the way it did, and I understand that it wasn't a scenario designed to test your urban combat skills. And I agree 100% that you MUST take time to THINK through the risks.

And I'm glad Guatemala is relatively safe, too.

I'd still send a nice CAR-15 with you if I could, though. Even David had a sling.

Brandon and Jenny said...

"I'd still send a nice CAR-15 with you if I could, though. Even David had a sling"

Haha! If I can have one legally, I'll take it. The CAR-15 (or another such weapon). Although a sling would work pretty good. I bet David would have liked a 30-30 too.

Yeah, it gets sticky. The estuary of theology and life is usually cloudier than we like to admit. Not always, but until faith and hope pass away (or are realized) and only love remains, things will be sticky on our end because we just understand so little. I had a prof in seminary who wanted us to make sure we gave each other enough room to breathe. And there's plenty breathing room here.

It's a tough issue and one I hope I never have to apply in real life. But unfortunately I don't have the luxury of not wrestling with it. We will plan and be as safe as possible and trust the Lord with the outcome.

I really need to read 'Through Gates of Splendor' by Elizabeth Elliot. It's on my list!

Thanks for all your input. Anyone else, we'd love your thoughts!