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STUPID TERRY MITCHELL!

Posted by admin in August 12th, 2021
Published in Uncategorized

“Monkeys will fly out my nose before I go there!”

I was very serious and very firm with Daryl. He’d made an agreement with UNESCO and Afghanistan’s Ministry of Higher Education that he’d bring an academic team to Kabul for university faculty training by March, 2003.

“You know I can’t go to a Muslim country. And from everything I read about Kabul, it’s total chaos there. No! I’m not going. And that’s final!”

He knew I meant business because my arms were akimbo and my lips were pursed. That always means: it’s over.

Stupid Terry Mitchell.

Daryl announced at the IICS Conference that he was looking for people to go with him to Afghanistan. I usually liked Terry Mitchell, but after the session, I was standing too close to him because when he started talking to Daryl about how much he wanted to go to Afghanistan and how much he loved the Afghan people and how excited he was about the opportunity, the Holy Spirit, which was only suppose to be on Terry Mitchell, spilled over onto me!

It was almost involuntary. I found myself saying, “Well, I’ll go if Terry Mitchell goes.”

And that was that. Suddenly, I was in love with Afghanistan.

Couldn’t point it out to you on a map, but I was madly in love with the country.

By the fall of 2002, we had our four-person team lined up and we all started getting ready for “Afghanistan, March, 2003.”

Before we even arrived in Kabul, we knew we were heading into a mess. We flew from Dubai on Ariana Airlines (Afghan Air). The plane was an ancient Pan Am Boeing 707. (Remember, Pan Am went out of business in 1991). The seatbelts still had the Pan Am logo on them as did the plane’s seat covers. Two-thirds of the seatbelts didn’t work— including mine. The plane had several seats missing. Pulled up right out of the floor. Those seats that remained were broken; the backs wouldn’t stay upright. If a passenger stood up, the seatback would fall forward.

We shared the flight with livestock and saddles and nomads. Are chickens considered livestock?

We landed among the debris at the airport. All along the runway there was burned out aircraft, old machine parts, and bits and pieces of airplanes scattered everywhere. It looked like a graveyard for machines. Warning signs for landmines were placed every few yards.

WELCOME TO KABUL!

One of the things we as a team agreed on was to obey the laws of the land. We four were all evangelicals with hearts for winning souls. We all believe that Jesus is the only way to God. There is salvation in no other name under heaven or on earth. But Afghanistan’s government made it clear we were not to proselytize. Afghanistan needed help and holding these faculty workshops for university professors (some hadn’t been in a classroom in 25 years) was our cold cup of water in Jesus’ name—even if we couldn’t speak His name it was right for us to go and help.

People often ask me, “What good is it to go to a country where you can’t share the Four Spiritual Laws?” And believe me I’m what CS Lewis called a “Hot Gospeler.” I love evangelism, but evangelism isn’t the only thing that brings glory to God. A good housepainter, if he does his job well and worships Christ as he paints is still bringing glory to God. A new mommy that is nursing and changing her baby’s dirty diapers, if her focus is on Jesus—that brings glory to God. Because truly, in the life of the Believer, there should never be a separation between sacred and secular. There is no bifurcation in the Christian life. Whatever we do in word or deed we are to do it all in the name of the Lord, giving thanks.

Our team was willing to go to Kabul and hold workshops and in-service training sessions and give of what knowledge we had to the Afghan faculty members even if we were never given a chance to preach the gospel. Our going was more about obedience and serving others than a head count of souls won.

So we went. And we taught. And we prayed. And we asked the Holy Spirit to help us give to these war-torn, exhausted and weary colleagues something of value. Every day we asked the Lord Jesus to guide us, anoint us and to let us smell like Him. We wanted to be the fragrance of Christ in those classrooms.

We all agreed: no evangelism, no proselytizing, no hidden agendas.

The team went to Kabul knowing we might not have an opportunity to share our faith. Workshops, seminars, and interacting with faculty were all ministry to us, even if Jesus’ name was never mentioned.

The final week I was conducting a workshop on philosophy of education. Right in the middle of my presentation a creepy, bearded, turbaned man stood up (some of the Afghans had warned us that those men who still wore beards and turbans were usually Taliban sympathizers) and said, “Dr. Teri do you believe in Mohammed?”

I paused and tried to think of a win-win response. “Of course. Everyone knows about Mohammed. He is an historic figure with…”

The man interrupted, “No! I mean do you believe he is the prophet of Allah?”

Uh oh. Heads went down. No one looked around. People stopped making eye contact with me.

It felt as if it was just the two of us in that room.

Trying to steer the man in a different direction, I said, “Well, I defend your right to believe that,” and I tried to talk about democracy and freedom of speech and freedom of ideas.

But this fanatic was persistent…

He shouted at me “Do you follow Mohammed or Jesus?”

“Jesus!  In fact, Jesus Christ is my very best friend! I talk to Him each and every day!”

It’s a line I picked up from Daryl. You see, I thought if this guy believed I was a mental case–truly crazy–he’d leave me alone. I mean who can be best friends with a man who has been “dead” for over 2,000 years? Right?

Didn’t work.

“Mohammed is greater than Jesus!” he barked.

“Okay,” I responded.

“No! Say it! Say that Mohammed is greater than Jesus!” his face was dark red and his eyes very glazed and narrow. He was shouting and leaning forward. He was, well, scary.

You know that passage in Scripture where Jesus says if we deny Him He’ll deny us? Well, that, with some other stuff, was rolling around in my head. You see I don’t mind dying for Jesus, but living in a filthy Kabul prison—that would be really tough on me. I have bleach under every sink in my house. I like clean. I like tidy. I like to be comfortable. Death, hey, no problem. Life in a dingy, stinking, cell? That’s a problem.

All my life I’d read Matthew 10:19, but it never really meant anything to me, “…do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say.”

My ears were hot and I felt flush. My knees were literally shaking, but not too visibly under my long tunic and trousers. I was not going to deny Jesus, but I was uncertain what to do. I whispered, “Jesus please help me. I’m scared.”

In preparation for this trip to Afghanistan I had done a bit of studying about their culture. They are very family centered. They also have a long history of honoring their elders. I believe with all my heart it was God who gave me the words to say because I wasn’t thinking too clearly. I asked scary Taliban guy, “Do you have a grandmother?”

He was so surprised by my response that he actually took a step back, “What? Of course I have a grandmother. Well, she’s dead. But I had a grandmother!”

His face was scrunched up and he looked confused.

“Did you love your grandmother?” I asked

People were starting to peek out from their bowed heads just to see what was happening.

“Of course I loved her! What do you mean?” he replied.

“Well, if I said those words you are asking me to say it would break my grandmother’s heart! Do you want me to break my grandmother’s heart and bring disgrace to her?” I paused just for effect because I knew I had him. So I continued…

“Is that what you want? You want my grandmother to suffer and be shamed? Because if I say those words you are asking me to say that would break her heart and bring disgrace to my entire village.”

(Okay, so I lived in Lenexa, Kansas, a suburb of Kansas City–not quite a village).

“Uh, uh, no!” he stammered, “You’re twisting my words. That’s not the point!” his voice was softer, I could see he had taken a direct hit. Thank You Jesus!

Suddenly, the oldest member of the faculty raised his hand. This was the most respected man of the entire group. Out of the 130 participants, probably half were his former students. He was in his mid 70s (a miracle in itself knowing Afghanistan’s history), with beautiful white hair and he wore a hand-knitted skull cap that looked a lot like a halo.

“Dr. Teri, may I say something?” he asked.

I was thinking, “As long as it is not ‘Kill the BIG White Woman.’”

“Sure,” I answered.

In the room was a collective sigh of relief. They knew this old professor. They trusted his wisdom.

“Mohammed taught us that Jesus was a great and wonderful teacher. We know that Dr. Teri is a follower of His because she too is a great and wonderful teacher. And to be quite frank, my son, even our own prophet Mohammed would not ask Dr. Teri to say such a thing. You see, the Koran teaches us that God will reveal Himself to anyone who seeks Him whether that be in a mosque, a church or a temple, if they seek Him with all of their hearts.”

He paused, “May I write that verse on the board Dr. Teri?”

I handed him the marker. He wrote it in English, Farsi and Pashtu.

Just when he was finished the bell rang and everyone rushed the door heading for lunch.

Except four men who waited nervously for the classroom to empty.

They shuffled up to my desk, pushed one of the four forward and he asked, almost in a whisper, “Dr. Teri, we have always wanted to learn more about Jesus. We have always wanted to know him. Can you help us? Do you have some literature, or some articles perhaps? Something that we can read to help us understand Jesus and to learn more about him?”

Terry Mitchell had brought several copies of the Gospel of John in Pashtu and Farsi. They were small little fliers with pictures of Jesus speaking to crowds. At first glance, when Terry showed them to me, I thought they were children’s literature. But they weren’t. They were lovely small pamphlets of the Book of John. Terry made sure each man received his own copy.

You see, I didn’t have to break any rules or any promises in Afghanistan to bring Jesus’ beautiful name into the classroom. Scary Taliban guy brought Jesus’ name into that workshop. I didn’t have to steer conversations, or manipulate anyone. All I had to do was show up and God took care of the rest. I didn’t bring God into that classroom. He was already there. Peace.

4 users Responded In This Post

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59127. M D Acuff said,
August 13th, 2021 at 12:19 pm

Your wisdom is refreshing. God amazingly creates opportunity for His glory when we just stop and let Him. Thanks for teaching us how to be salt and light.

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59140. admin said,
August 14th, 2021 at 5:37 am

Thanks for reading the blog and thanks for this kind word of encouragement. I’m grateful!

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59142. c.rough said,
August 14th, 2021 at 7:17 am

❤️❤️❤️ this!

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59166. Carrie Bradshaw said,
August 15th, 2021 at 5:44 am

Love this so much. It’s encouraging to me because I’m always asking Him. What do you want me to do? or Am I doing what you want me to do. It’s a really much better version of “Bloom where you are planted.”

As timing would have it for this weekend, my husband is on a trip and I’ve been on my own this weekend. The news and twitter feed I knew would give me too much angst so while I was doing housework I found you on YouTube and played several of you seminars and blogs and this story was in there. I was excited to sit down and read it again since I had shared the story over dinner with my mom last night. It gave her chills too.

Thank you so much for blessing me with your wisdom and your personality.

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