Staring at the ceiling, my brain attempted to process the volume of different sounds that infiltrated my tiny hotel room, violating my ears at 5:30am. The constant chant coming from a Muslim mosque, calling the religious faithful to prayer, was mixed with random, high-pitched blows of the horn. As if a secret Morse code existed among local taxi drivers, they blasted their horns at a rapid pace in some crazy effort to communicate. The squeal of breaks, hum of traffic and other common city noises competed with the hypnotic Muslim chant that seemed to permeate every space of my mind. The city of Addis Ababa was coming to life. All of this reminded me of my purpose and the spiritual world invading all around. This world that seemed so chaotic was, at the same time, a very organized and intentional battle.
Tossing the covers aside, I glanced at the clock, trying to do a quick calculation of how much sleep I actually had. Ugh, two and a half hours was all my body could sneak in since our 1am arrival. This was not my rookie trip to Ethiopia, and I was painfully aware that the first few days could be rough. A shower helped, and the fact that I had hot water this time was a bonus. I finished my shower and then dressed, marveling at how loud the sound system could get at the nearby mosque. Strangely, I found myself admiring their persistence in calling their followers to prayer. What if Christians in America were this dedicated? Nah… That’s not convenient or politically correct. It’s too radical to announce our prayers like that (I hope you sense my sarcasm).
A new sound erupted, shouting over a different loud speaker. Just one block away, the prayers of the Christian Orthodox Church began. As if in some battle of decibels, the Orthodox and Muslims continued to shout prayers, calling their followers to religious commitment.
Opening my Bible to Matthew 16, I read Jesus’ words about His church and storming the gates of hell. I am reminded that Jesus tells us we are in a war. In this battle, there are souls at stake, but Jesus’ church will ultimately be victorious. Again, Paul tells us in Ephesians 6 that we are in a daily battle, requiring that we put on armor and fight a spiritual battle. I love the words of Robert Coleman from The Master’s Plan of Evangelism:
“We must always remember, too, that the goal is world conquest. We dare not let a lesser concern capture our strategy of the moment…” He goes on to say, “… There can be no substitute for total victory, and our field is the world. We have not been called to hold the fort, but to storm the heights.”
You, me, and every true disciple of Jesus Christ are called to storm the heights. The battle we are in becomes more evident when I leave the comforts of America. The religious opposition is much more obvious, and the battle over the souls of men is evident. You and I must not forget the real battle around us, or be captured by lesser things.
Keep your eyes on the real battle lines. Whether in America or a foreign field, the spiritual war is real and God calls you to suit up.