Carl Medearis has written a book entitled, “Adventures in ‘Saying YES — A Journey from Fear to Faith” reads like a Hollywood blockbuster.
The author, a Colorado-born, son of a pastor and international Middle East expert overcomes a variety of fears in his 12 years spent sharing the message of Jesus in the Middle East.
Chapter one impressed upon me that fear is scary. Pastor Carl is preaching in a mosque filled with Shiite Muslims in the Hezbollah-controlled area in South Lebanon. He recounts being approached, by what “seemed like 50 guys but might have been 6 guys with guns,” yelling “Where is the American”?
The book details Carl’s experiences from questioning Mr. ‘pistol in the pants’ man, debating a Lebanese religious leader to spending the night in an Arab jail. While fearful in the moment, these experiences engendered empathy and love for all God’s people, not just Christians.
In one chapter, entitled ‘Fear Sells,’ Carl writes about false fears. I’d ask Carl, “What is people’s fear based on? Is it based on sensational news headlines? Is fear from a lack of knowledge or being able to relate to people? How does fear harm us?”
Carl writes, ‘Fear that breeds worry will lead to paralysis, hatred or anger toward others, the rational decisions based on unreasonable conclusions and avoidance of the ones we are called to reach.’
In Chapter 7 titled, ‘Fertilizing the Middle East – Becoming a Fool for Christ,’ he relates a story of being in Baghdad three months before 9/11 to attend a Muslim-Christian dialogue conference. He unintentionally mooned three buses filled with a handful of leaders who were a veritable “Who’s Who in the Middle East Religions World.”
In chapter 11, he writes about giving presents to local children and singing a Sunday school song, “I have the joy, joy, down in my heart. Where? Down in my heart.” Unbeknownst to Carl and his family, there was one problem, in Arabic the words joy and mouse sound a lot alike. “We didn’t know the difference. So, we sang mouse not knowing, of course. You can imagine the kids’ puzzlement as we sang about ‘the mouse in our heart!’”
Reading this book ignited in me a passion for more Carl Medearis. I found a YouTube video which was a humorous talk in which Carl recounted creating interest in Jesus in people ranging from a hard-lined atheist rock star to a stubborn Jewish lady who later grew to accept Christ and even a secular Muslim leader who asked Carl to create (Jesus) leadership groups in Lebanon which would even be attended by some Hezbollah leaders.
Written with kindness, humor and empathy, this book is more than simply a missionary story of how to live among people from other faiths as Medearis and his family did for 12 years. As an explorer who backpacked alone through Muslim Sumatra (part of Indonesia) and Buddhist Thailand, I could relate to Carl’s message of love for all God’s people.
With the presidential election just seven months away, some people (Liberals) will focus on the narrative that all Christians are close-minded toward people of other faiths. This book can be a friendly reminder to share with those Liberal friends that this is not always the case.
Save yourself a debate; present this book to them and let them discover for themselves that some Christians are not judgmental; are filled not with fear of people different from themselves, but indeed have the faith to live out God’s commandment “Love our neighbors as thyself.” Carl Medearis’s book is a testament to that belief.