How Tragedy Reminded Me of the Mission - Radical

How Tragedy Reminded Me of the Mission

I sat at the kitchen table that morning, tears streaming down my face, a sermon playing in the background, my friend looking at me like I’m some sort of emotionally unstable maniac. August 5, 2010, was the only track on repeat in my mind. Little did I know that over the course of the next six months, God would use this seemingly normal morning to bring me face to face with himself. He would begin implanting in me a heart for something greater than I could ever imagine.

August 5, 2010, was a day of grief for many; ten aid workers were found shot and killed in the mountains of Eastern Afghanistan: six Americans, one German, one Brit, and two Afghans.

The eleven-man crew was returning from a medical aid mission in the northern region of the country when a group of assailants attacked the caravan. The men plundered the crew’s valuables and, as the others watched on, individually shot each member of the team, save an Afghan man who began to recite the Qur’an, which proved to be his deliverance.

The Ultimate Goal

While this costly mission was specifically for medical aid to poor Afghan villagers, the ultimate goal was to show the love of Christ to people in such great need. Knowing full well the potential risks of the excursion, each member joyfully gave their lives for this mission.

Why, you ask? They had a passion for something—something greater than themselves. Something that would ultimately give these people the true healing that their souls desperately needed and longed for.

I’m privileged to say that one of these ten happened to be my best friend and mentor. A young, twenty-five-year-old man, whose heart broke for the lost people of this world. As a middle-schooler, I failed to appreciate who Brian was, what he did, and why he did the things that he did.

Looking back now, I realize just how honored I am to have called this man my friend. He sacrificed his life for the gospel, not just on August 5, 2010, but every day. He modeled the lifestyle, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21), unlike anyone I’ve ever known.

A few days after he passed, a friend casually said something that seemed insignificant at the time, but it has stuck with me ever since. I think it speaks volumes about the way Brian lived and the way we, as followers of Christ, are called to live. She asked, “Can you guys imagine Brian dying any other way? I can’t. The only way he was ever going to be taken out of this world was for the sake of the gospel.”

Stirring a Passion

So why am I telling you this story? I’m not telling you this to make you feel bad or guilty about what happened. I’m also not telling you this story to make you discouraged about all the brokenness and evil in this world.

I am telling you this story in hopes of stirring up a passion for something that is bigger than you can fathom. Something that’s greater than all the evil and sin that infects this world. I’m inviting you to join me in the most perilous yet animated mission you can be a part of in this life: making much of the name of Jesus and declaring His saving power among all the nations of the world.

“Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples!” 1 Chronicles 16:24

There are approximately 7.3 billion people on this planet. Of that 7.3 billion, 6.57 billion do not believe the gospel, and 2.11 billion have never had any exposure to the name of Jesus (Statistics from the Joshua Project).

Think about those numbers: 6.57 billion unbelievers, 2.11 billion of which have no access to the gospel. Aren’t those statistics staggering? Don’t they just blow you away? This world is a lost and dark place in desperate need of the light of the gospel.

But we have that gospel! We have great news for these people! Christians are God’s torches. We are the light-bearers in this dark world. We are the means that God has chosen for his light to advance to the lost (Matthew 5:13-16).

Grace Upon Grace

Our motivation? Grace. The immeasurable grace that we have been shown through the cross should create in us a longing to see others experience this same grace. Because of the good news of the gospel, we have purpose and hope. Why would we keep that to ourselves? We must proclaim it to the world!

Austin Slater is an intern for Reformed University Fellowship at the University of Central Florida. He graduated from James Madison University in 2018.


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