In the meantime, this is a rough draft of a chapter for you, and I hope you get something out of it and are blessed.
On the Defense or Offense?
I have been praying that God would speak to me in my dreams about things of the Kingdom. Rarely do I remember my dreams—but since I have been praying this bold prayer, I have remembered more than usual.
One night recently, I woke up feeling all tense in my shoulders. I think I had even awakened during the night and felt the same tension, thinking, “When will this crazy dream end?” I remembered the whole thing when I woke up, and it made no sense—until later that night when I asked God for the meaning of it.
The dream went something like this:
I was leading a mission in some hard-to-reach country which was at civil war. We were planting a mission in the middle of nowhere—but it was definitely in enemy territory. While we were eating lunch one day, a huge enemy war plane appeared out of nowhere, ready to land on our airstrip and attack us.
“RUN TO THE HILLS AND HIDE!” I told everyone. We scattered, each to his own in hopes that by spreading out they would not catch us as easily and maybe a few of us would survive their rampage. The plane soon landed, and the enemy attacked a few of my colleagues. I ran for cover to the woods, hiding amidst the bushes as they tore through trying to find me and the other missionaries.
I survived until evening and was so thirsty and tired. I heard them camping, eating, and laughing. I could smell the food, but I had no appetite because of the tension I was holding. I eventually found a high palm tree that had many concealing branches and nestled myself comfortably there for the night, trusting God that I would be protected from their attacks. Then I slept. At dawn, somehow, I was able to run for cover farther away—and though they followed, I escaped.
At the next scene, I was inside the Franciscan sister's convent, which for some reason was in the enemy’s large compound. I hid myself secretively there to try to get some rest, but the sisters found me. I explained my plight, and I asked them to dress me up like a nun. That way, I could hide among them so that I would not be discovered and killed.
Then, in the next scene, I was somehow back in that first village where the plane had landed. There were now a whole new group of missionaries there, families and couples and vibrant people. The atmosphere was peaceful and even joyous. They were eating lunch, having a good time, and they welcomed me. It was as if they were confident, ‘in control,’ and with purpose and strategy. You could just feel it, without them even talking about it.
However, I was not comfortable. I was tired. I wanted to go home. Their peace and confidence didn’t make sense to me because I didn’t know how to be like that amidst such a war. And then my plane came, and I boarded and went home and left them there.
When I woke up with shoulder tension from all that struggle through the night, I thought it was just some crazy meaningless dream. But it wasn’t. I asked the Father to speak to me in dreams and He did.
This is what the Father showed me the dream meant:
Katie, you are living in a war-type situation where you live. There is war that I am allowing you to be aware of all around you: drug deals, addictions, prostitution, corruption, disunity among the Body of Christ, lack of zeal among the Church people and leaders. The city’s destiny is not yet realized on many realms, let alone your own growth in freedom and conversion and personal relationships. Daily you are facing a war. What is important is your perspective on the war.
You are viewing yourself as one on the defense—just trying to survive and have My protection. You are not taking ground like the missionaries in the last scene. You are just trying to make it through, but without strategy and purposeful impact. True, you are having faith that I will protect you amidst an evil regime that is threatening you. However, my purpose is not just to protect you, but to protect you so that you can be on the offense and influence the darkness.
The Christians in the last scene understood who they were and who I was. They were aware that the enemy was around them in the forest, the air or other hidden places. But they knew that I was guiding them. Even King David, who was the most powerful commander and ruler in the world, responsible for legions of men, knew this truth. He said, “I don’t bother myself with things too complicated for me” (Ps. 131:1). He was totally surrendered to Me and poor in spirit despite the challenge of the enemy around him. He knew that I was leading the army.
I want you, I want the Church to grow in confidence that I have equipped them in Christ to do the impossible and to be on the offense and take the ground of the enemy. It is not often in the arduous battle that I take ground back, but I “set a banquet before your enemies” (Ps. 23:5) and, as in the vision, I let you feast while the enemy is planning their war tactics. Those missionaries could only be at peace and of good humor with their children at lunch because they had a listening ear turned to the wisdom of the Lord of Armies and trusted that He who has called them is able.
I want to increase the faith and thus the confidence of my children in the Church to match who I have baptized them to be in Christ.
(transition needed here)
Oftentimes in the middle of Sudan, I felt like a missionary on the verge of burnout, literally dealing with the civil war that was pounding at my Sudanese brother’s and sisters on all facets. War broke out in 3 out of 5 locations where I was stationed. In one of the ‘peaceful’ locations, though war hadn’t officially broken out, it was not uncommon to hear of a decapitated body thrown in the river. I faced a few challenges needless to say. I know a bit of what it’s like to live on the defense.
But there were many times I chose to walk out of that defensive mode and live on the offense during an actual war situation. Here is an excerpt from my Christmas newsletter from Torit, South Sudan in 2006:
…The security here is becoming worse. Fighting is on the increase just near us. A few weeks ago, I visited Lokondo village where 25 of my leprosy patients live—then militia came and shot people, killing one lady and wounding several…Several days back, militia stopped a bus on the way to Juba (some 30 km away from us) and stole, probably raped and then burned all the people in the bus—their own people.
Just before Christmas, our parish priest asked me if I wanted to drive 20 miles with him on Christmas day to visit the first village that had 19 people killed during a massacre just 3 weeks prior. “The people need encouragement,” he said with begging eyes, “and they will be encouraged if you come.”
Fear gripped my heart and body. These murderers were at large and often laid road blocks and then slaughtered everyone in the car. But I knew I wanted to go. I decided to get on the offense rather than live in fear on the defense. In order to bring these people hope, I had to release every fear into the hands of God and embrace faith that God is with me and will set a table before us amidst our enemies. But I also had to prepare for the possibility of a natural death just a few miles ahead. “Yes,” I said to the Lord, “I will go and represent You.”
Off we went that chilly afternoon, talking and singing along the bumpy road in the parish’s Land Rover as if it were just another everyday trek to visit our people in their village. Then we saw ahead the men in uniforms—with Kalashnikov guns. Fr. Darius debated whether to hit the gas pedal and speed through the road block or (in faith) stop. For whatever reason, he slowed down and faced these unknown soldiers. The closer we got, he recognized one of them and realized they were not part of the LRA rebels but our own soldiers. The waved us on with big smiles. Ah! What sweet relief!
We soon arrived at the village, unknown to the people since there would be no way to inform them prior to our coming, and Fr. Darius announced we would be celebrating Mass with them for Christmas! Though the pain was etched in most people’s faces from the recent tragedy, the heaviness began turning into joy. “Christ in you the hope of glory!” (Col. 1:27) Though I had never met any of these dear people, we greeted each other with strong and emotional hugs, and I wiped the tears from their smiling faces as we held hands during Mass and celebrated the Presence of Christ among us and hope amidst the tragedy.
We are sure we are to remain here and stand firm in prayer and presence but it is not always easy. For several nights I slept horribly as I dreamt all night of someone trying to hunt me down and kill me. Maybe I had a small taste of what my brothers and sisters experience daily. How they suffer.
Thanks for your prayers,
Staying on the offense—choosing to believe that amidst tragedy, we are called to run into the darkness and set a table before our enemies and feast on His Presence. It doesn’t mean that we will not at times be scared, or have some vivid dreams, or sleepless nights. Following Jesus takes courage. It takes faith. And if we will risk to hunger for more of His perspective on who we are and who He is and what is our mission in this world, faith and courage will arise within us.
We all have courage and faith within us—though if not stirred up for a while, we have to dig deep for it and He will give us more than we can ask or imagine! I promise you, it is there because Christ lives in you and He is your hope of glory!
Declarations for your Life
I bless you with extreme emotional confidence and trust in His tender mercies towards you. You are completely forgiven and you can rest in His plans for your life.
You are so special to the Father. You are accepted by Him. You are the target of His affections. You are created to live on the offense and to influence the world around you with goodness.
I bless you to live from victory, in the power of His love, to rise above your current circumstances with fresh hope and wisdom. You will know what to do and will have the ability to do it because He is with you and will never leave you.
I release on you increased faith that sees and believes in the goodness of God and in the power of His might to do more than you can ask or imagine. He is with you and for you, and His power, grace and favor go before you.
I declare that God’s power is flowing into all your life’s circumstances and aligning them now according to His will for you today.
I release you from the limitations of an old mindset that will bind you to fear and self doubt.
I bless you to be mighty in spirit, bold and stouthearted against all opposition, moving forward into all you are destined to live!