“It was a place of tremendous uncertainty,” Marquette was saying. He looked more glamorous than ever, dressed in a double-breasted, pin-striped navy suit with a silk scarf folded into his breast pocket. He wore no hat in the church, exposing his elegant ponytail.
“I remember wondering to myself many times,” Marquette continued in his soft accent, “why did God make me a citizen in a new country, only to have me leave it and fight for another? Andy and I have spoken of this many times. I thought God had fallen asleep and forgot about those of us who believed in Him. We would be hiding in the jungle, and our new best friend would suddenly be dead before our very eyes. We went days without food and without sleep, and I wondered what had happened to the Lord.
“My purpose became clear, as I struggled each day between somehow trying to survive the battles, or simply ending my own life. I realized we were in this place of sin and destruction, but God was still with me in my heart. I called upon Him, and He convinced me to survive so I might serve whatever task He had chosen for me.
“Andy’s purpose became clear as he struggled in battle as well, but his purpose was far different from my own. Andy left his comfortable and safe home in America to fight an unseen enemy, an enemy he did not know, only to return and continue another great battle. The battle of good and evil. Now he will combat the tremendous uncertainties of how many shall follow and how many shall fight him for what he believes in, choosing either their death and destruction or complete freedom in Christ.”
Marquette smiled at Andy. “God blessed us in America, but he gave us our purpose on foreign soil.”
—Excerpt from Marquette Caselli’s address at Reverend Andy Engleson’s ordination, from The Pretender: A Blackguard in Disguise,
Book I of The Caselli Family Series
Marquette Caselli came from Italy to America in 1956, where he signed on for the draft as part of his citizenship requirements. He became a citizen of the United States on June 1, 1962. In 1965 he was drafted into the Army and sent to Vietnam. In the above excerpt, Marquette speaks about Vietnam and how it changed not only him and his beliefs, but the neighbor boy as well.
Andy Engleson could hardly wait to turn eighteen. His whole life he wanted to be a soldier. In 1968, shortly before his eighteenth birthday, he volunteered for the Army and went to Vietnam. As Marquette appropriately pointed out, “Andy left his comfortable and safe home in America…” and he did that voluntarily.
When Andy returned he signed on for another war, but this one would be far different than fighting in the jungles of Vietnam — and for any of you in the ministry, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Like Rev. Engleson, we fight an unseen enemy every day. Unfortunately, we know him only too well. Our enemy manipulates our friends, family, ministry partners and our very mission field itself. We live with the realization that everybody is going to fight us for what we believe, “choosing either their death and destruction, or complete freedom in Christ.”
Jesus warned the disciples, “All men will hate you because of Me…” Matthew 10:22. Not just some of them – all of them. That steadfast belief in Christ and His ways turns many people off — including fellow Christians. Sure, they all like salvation and sign up as soon as they realize that all they have to do is accept Jesus as their personal Savior and ask His forgiveness. And our holy, faithful God keeps His word, because He cannot lie, and he draws them into the fold of His heavenly kingdom.
But there’s so much more that God wants for us. He wants us to know Him deeply. He even calls us “friends.” John 15:14-15
Many have asked me the question, “How do I get to know God?” And I answer honestly, “There’s only one way, and that’s God’s way. We must read our Bibles if we want to know our Savior, Ruler and holy King.”
Trials and troubles will most certainly come to people, and if we’re not deeply connected to our Savior through His Word the enemy will be able to steal, kill and destroy. And the enemy is all about the destruction of holy, godly relationships. But with Christ and His Word, we are promised life, and that we will have it to the full. Mark 4:17; John 10:10
Beloved, are you having trouble in your relationships? I do every day, and there’s no doubt in my mind what the problem is. Christ warns me, “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.” Matthew 10:34-36
Sounds like war to me, and an ugly one at that.
I’ve chosen Christ and His ways, above all else. It matters not in the slightest what my friends, family, children or even my husband think…and let me tell you what, it’s the toughest gig of my life. Over the years I’ve watched the Lord bring a sword into relationship after relationship. I have less than a handful of friends who accept me for what I believe and who I am in Christ.
I love this portion of Psalm 19:
8 The precepts of the Lord are right,
giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are radiant,
giving light to the eyes.
9 The fear of the Lord is pure,
The decrees of the Lord are firm,
and all of them are righteous.
10 They are more precious than gold,
than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey,
than honey from the honeycomb.
11 By them your servant is warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.
Those are promises I just can’t live without.
Jesus said, “If you love Me you will obey what I command.” John 14:15
Chapter 15 in the Book of John describes where we’re supposed to be in our relationship with Jesus, (I’m not making this up — check for yourselves) and that’s a daily walk with Him and His Word. If you can’t find time for Him, you only short change yourself — and the gate of your life swings open wide for the thief to come on in, kill, steal and destroy.
Jude, the brother of our Lord Jesus Christ, wrote a short but profound letter to the early church. In part he said, “But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.
“Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.” Jude 20-23
I will continue in my ministry, but like Andy it is with tremendous uncertainty. It’s heart breaking to watch people choose death and destruction over complete freedom in Christ.
I wish that I was as brave as Andy Engleson, and that I would have volunteered for this battle. But the truth is that I’m more like Marquette Caselli. I attained membership as a citizen of Heaven, and then I was drafted into His service.
But I do love the service, and I’m proud to serve a holy Commander.
Though the cost to my personal life is tremendous at times, Beloved, I’ll snatch as many from the fires as I can. I’ll fulfill my calling from a holy God and rest in His promises. And if anybody else has any better ideas, show me the bounty of your fruit first.
© 2017, Ta`Mara Hanscom