Dear Franklin Graham
An open letter to Franklin Graham.
I love and support your ministry. Samaritan’s Purse has been instrumental in many capacities, and the speed and effectiveness in which you mobilize teams in the wake of devastation is without compare. I know that you have witnessed things on your travels that I have not. I understand that emotions and experiences do not translate and so, even if I read articles and see videos, I truly can never walk in your shoes amidst refugee camps in Iraq.
All of that being said, I wanted to write in response to a post you made on 7/17/2015:
"Four innocent Marines (United States Marine Corps) killed and three others wounded in ?#Chattanooga? yesterday including a policeman and another Marine--all by a radical Muslim whose family was allowed to immigrate to this country from Kuwait. We are under attack by Muslims at home and abroad. We should stop all immigration of Muslims to the U.S. until this threat with Islam has been settled. Every Muslim that comes into this country has the potential to be radicalized--and they do their killing to honor their religion and Muhammad. During World War 2, we didn't allow Japanese to immigrate to America, nor did we allow Germans. Why are we allowing Muslims now? Do you agree? Let your Congressman know that we've got to put a stop to this and close the flood gates. Pray for the men and women who serve this nation in uniform, that God would protect them.”
What is there to say?
Jesus Christ came to save sinners. (1 Timothy 1:15ff; Luke 15; Eph 2:1-10; Romans 3:21-28)
You know this. I know this. We agree on this. The New Testament makes this clear. Jesus Christ came into the world for the sake of sinful man. God patiently held his wrath for generations until he could pour it out on his own son rather than pour it out on us. Jesus, who knew no sin, became sin so that we, who know nothing BUT sin, could become his righteousness. On that cross, Jesus’ blood was poured out to atone for, or to cover, all of our sin. This is the gospel: That we can freely take part in the most beautiful and least deserved of exchanges - our filth for Jesus’ beauty; our sin for his righteousness.
There is nothing in our history, our culture, or any other aspect of ourselves that makes us more deserving of this sacrifice and gift. Americans don’t deserve it because their founders had some semblance of faith. We don’t deserve it because we did anything. It is undeserved - that’s what makes it a gift.
We are here in order to tell sinners about Jesus Christ. (Rev 5; 2 Timothy; Matt 24:14)
We were left on this earth for a specific purpose: to glorify God by making disciples until the whole world hears. That is our purpose and that is our goal. Everything else is just peripheral fodder getting in the way of a single-focused life.
At some point in time, probably as soon as persecution slowed down, Christians began thinking that their faith was more about a cushy life than it was about the gospel brought to other sinners. In America, where we are “a Christian nation,” we are guilty of this more than anywhere else in the world. We have embraced an American Jesus who places no demands, no requirements of repentance, and doesn’t want to intervene too much in your life.
We are here to tell people about the gospel, not to crawl inside our bomb shelter and try to live the longest life possible. We are here to desperately bring the glory of Christ to the ends of the earth, to the darkest places possible, because he is worthy to be praised. We are here to pour ourselves out like a drink offering, to run the race, to fight the good fight, to finish strong as a soldier of Jesus Christ. We are here to be single-focused, single-minded, and to not get wrapped up in any other lesser thing.
The gospel and the glory of God is our purpose. It is the drum that we must beat, and it is through tears that I implore you that it is a purpose that directly impacts the nearly 1/3 of the world who call Islam their faith. They need to hear about Jesus - not because they deserve it, but because Jesus deserves it.
The gospel is worth dying for. (Philippians; Luke 14, 17;)
The gospel calls, nay commands, man to die to himself. Paul rejoiced when his enemies proclaimed the gospel even though it meant a rougher time of it in prison for him. Paul said that if he lived, it meant more gospel fruit for him, but if he died, it would be gain because he would get to be with his savior. With this realization in his brain, Paul was able to endure all things - sickness and health, plenty and want, great trials and tribulations - because he knew that Jesus was greater and the work of the gospel more significant than any temporary suffering.
This mindset was not new to Paul, but was rooted upon the teachings of the whole of scripture and the earthly teachings of Jesus. Jesus said that if you choose to protect your life then you are actually losing it. He taught that if you are unwilling to count the cost of following Christ, then you are unfit for the kingdom of heaven.
The death of Christians for the sake of the gospel is neither a new thing nor is it a danger. It is not new because Jesus himself was abandoned by his closest friends - as was Paul years later. Christians have always been beaten, mocked, and executed. Neither is it a danger, because the reality is that we have nothing to lose. Our temporary sufferings are worth the infinite weight of glory that is to come. Our transient losses are pitiful in comparison to the worth of Christ. We are not in danger of losing something that no longer belongs to us.
If I cannot go to them, then let them come to me.
As you know, the world we live in is a difficult place to do ministry, and there are certain contexts in which I simply may not be able to go and have effective ministry as a light-haired, blue-eyed, white man. I am willing to go, even tried to go, but God has called me to other things. People from around the world, however, can freely come to the United States and, Lord willing, learn about the true Christianity of the Bible.
I say the true Christianity of the Bible because our country is littered with false understandings of Christianity. We claim to be a Christian nation yet produce pornographic filth at a rate unparalleled anywhere else in the world. Our film and television is riddled with people pretending to be Christian. Our churches refuse to stand up for the Word of God and truth, and are content to cave to the zeitgeist instead. Truly our country, and the Muslims around this world, are desperate for true Christianity.
So, I say, let them come. Let them come, and I will pray that they will meet someone who understands the true gospel of Jesus Christ.
I will pray that they meet someone who knows that the gospel is for sinners, not for Americans.
I will pray that they meet someone who knows that the gospel is worth dying for, and so they won’t use fear as an excuse to not tell their foreign neighbor about Jesus.
I will pray that God will bring us Muslims who are desperate to hear about the straight path of salvation found only in Isa al Masih.
I will pray that rather than having a generation of biblically illiterate churchgoers, we will have followers of Jesus who are willing to lay aside the culture of the USA in exchange for the culture of the Kingdom, realizing that earth is not their home.
I will pray for a miraculous movement of the gospel to happen amongst Muslims who can freely learn of the gospel here in the United States…
That is, if someone would only be willing to tell them rather than run from them.
Might you die? Might I die? Yes. We may. Most likely we will not, but is it a possibility? Yes it is, but as murdered missionary Jim Elliot famously stated, "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”
Pastor Bill Laky