Dave Eubank and the Iraqi General
A group of men in our church recently went to see the Christian movie, “Free Burma Rangers.” It was only out in theaters for a couple of days, and now has gone straight to video. I happened to read about the movie, and so had sent out an invite to interested guys at FoC, and eleven of us were able to take in the documentary/movie at the AMC theaters at Eden Prairie Center. We were so lucky for the opportunity and I know the men truly appreciated this story of faith, of sacrificial discipleship, of helping refugees displaced by war, and of the remarkable Eubank family and the organization they helped start called the Free Burma Rangers.
Near the movie’s end, an Iraqi General said something to the father, Dave Eubank, that just jumped off the screen for me and I knew I’d want to share it in a pondering. But first I need to set up the moment. Dave Eubank’s father was a missionary in Thailand, so when he put the call out for Dave to maybe help some war-torn impoverished mountain people in Burma (a friend of friends-in-need), Dave and his new wife prayed over the request, and decided to go – changing the course of their lives in the process. Dave had just finished his time with the US Army Rangers. Over the next few years, he and his wife, and then their children too, helped organize a team of medics and video-recorders to bring assistance to mountain people who are considered an ethnic underclass, and who’d been displaced by an unjust war in Burma. They provided food, basic medical aid, plus they video-recorded atrocities so that the world would know more about such injustice. In time, major news outlets as well as a UN Commission received updated video reports from the Free Burma Rangers, or FBR.
After many years in Burma, Dave Eubank felt the call of God leading him to go to Iraq to continue a similar kind of help. He is the remarkable kind of person, along with his wife, Karen, who will run toward the fighting and the fire rather than flee it. They go where other aid-workers are too cautious to go, with very good reason. But the FBR will venture into dangerous front-line places to provide help. Some of the Burmese Christians who worked with the Eubanks even followed them to Iraq to provide assistance, using their skills as medics or to document human rights abuses by ISIS.
Because Dave Eubank has considerable people-skills, he was soon befriended by an Iraqi General named Mustafa, who gave the FBR freedom of movement in Mustafa’s sector around Mosul. This was back in 2017 when the Iraqi army was trying to win Mosul back from the violent, iron grip of ISIS. Now, here’s the amazing sentence that General Mustafa uttered, after witnessing how Dave and the FBR risked their own lives to help save Iraqi civilians from some harrowing situations. (Warning, the film is graphic in its war violence!)
Mustafa, who is quite likely Muslim, embraced Dave while smiling ear to ear and said, “Thank you for showing us what it looks like to follow Jesus.” That whole movie has been staying with me since I saw it, and that quote especially has rolled around in my mind. And in this season of Lent, I’ve been doing some good discipleship thinking/praying about how others might think about Jesus because of the way I speak, and act, and live out my life.
“Let your light so shine before others,” we say at every baptism here at Family of Christ, “that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matt. 5:16) What a powerful witness we can make when we live out our convictions, and let God’s love, mercy, and generosity be refracted through us to shine on the world around us. Can we see Jesus in you? That’s a good Lenten question for any of us.
See you in church! –Pastor Josh
PS – Here’s an interesting side-note: in the film, there was a dramatic scene where a little girl was saved by the FBR literally out of the line of fire. She had been hiding under her dead mother’s hijab, even as bullets pinged the dirt around her. She was indeed saved, but was orphaned. When General Mustafa learned about it, he took the girl into to his own family until or even if a relative of the girl could ever be found.