By Jim Westfall
SalesForce Consultant and Owner of JW Consulting LLC
The sirens began after 10 pm and continued to cry out until nearly 2 am. It was our first night in Paris. We felt fortunate having an apartment near Place de la Bastille in the 11th arrondissement near the city’s center. We learned of the attacks only after we woke in the morning. It was Friday, November 14, 2015. The city was in shock, and so were we.
Paula and I have longed to be on mission internationally for many years. We considered joining an English language ministry serving in China several years ago after attending our first Mission ConneXion. We were motivated again after hearing Mission ConneXion keynote speaker Josh McDowell convincingly tell of ministries serving Muslims in Europe.
I could say there were many reasons for our delay, but fear was not one of the reasons. The Bible contains nearly 400 verses having to do with fear, admonishing the faithful TO fear the Lord, and to NOT fear life and death. One of my favorite verse since I came to faith in Jesus is Isaiah 41:10 (“Fear not, for I am with you …”).
But the world seems to be caught in another round of fear in the aftermath of terrorist attacks in Paris. Since Paula and I were in Paris and very close to the locations where the attacks took place, Bill asked me to share thoughts that might be useful to those of you called to serve in Europe.
I am not a theologian, a historian, a missiologist, or a prophet. But I have read the Bible from beginning to end several times, and I’m beginning to understand the simplicity of God’s plan for all of mankind (designed for relationship with Him, then rebellion, then redemption through Christ). I believe that no matter how sophisticated our surveillance technologies become, terrorism will always exist until Jesus returns to consummate God’s plan on earth.
The power behind terrorism is not someone whose name will appear on the front page of Le Monde. His name is Satan. His agents are young sons, megalomaniac national leaders, crime bosses, traffickers, gang leaders, and other assorted agents of death. His agents aren’t restricted to Islamic fundamentalists. They are found in all nations where humans are oppressed, enslaved, and remain hopeless. In fact, the Global Terrorism Report ranks America with a higher incidence of terrorism than any European nation except Greece.
What are we to do as Christians? We have two choices – to fear or to love. Watch this video clip to see one media organization’s view of the implications for Christian believers in the aftermath of the attacks: Pray For Paris. I believe this piece expresses Christ’s heart and desire for His body’s response. He calls for a response that is faithful, not fearful (Jn 16:33).
It has been said that Europe is the least evangelized continent on the earth today. God has wrestled with Europe for centuries. I believe these events may simply be God calling His faithful to participate in mission for renewed faith of Europeans, and for new faith among millions of incoming refugees. Ninety-nine percent of the refugees have left their native land in pursuit of hope and freedom that God created every human alive to have. I believe God has provided a huge open door to share the good news of Jesus with groups who have been difficult to reach in the past.
Reason to fear? Probably. Reason for faith? Certainly. An opportune time to go on mission? Definitely. Go, Bride, and reflect His glory!
Sales Force Consultant and business owner. His handle is: “Principal at JW Consulting LLC”