For nearly 20 years Al Janssen worked closely with Brother Andrew, the Founder of Open Doors. Together they traveled to Muslim countries, wrote six books, met with political leaders and spoke to ministry donors. This blog tells the story of their friendship and some of the many lessons Al learned from this beloved mission leader.
“The battle is on!”
What do Brother Andrew and I talk about when we connect by phone every few weeks? Often, it’s about the trouble spots in our world.
The day after Easter Sunday, I called my friend and after initial greetings and talk about how we spent Easter with our families, we turned our attention to Sri Lanka. That Sunday morning, just before departing for church, I’d received a text from the Open Doors Prayer App about the horrific bombings in three churches on that island nation in the Indian Ocean. My pastor stopped me just before the service to ask if I’d heard. He then mentioned it in his sermon. The tragedy put a damper on our celebration of the Resurrection.
The news that hundreds of our fellow brothers and sisters were killed by suicide bombers caused Brother Andrew to remind me again that we are engaged, whether we realize it or not, in spiritual war. This is not warfare as the world understands it, because in this war people are not our enemy.
The devil is the one who deceived those terrorists. They were lost and acted like lost people. They thought they were serving God and would be rewarded with Paradise. Had they even heard the Good News that could have freed them from their spiritual prison?
‘We were born for this battle’
The horrors of that attack reminded me of many conversations with Brother Andrew over the years. We wrestled with understanding the evil we saw every day on the news.
Here is one statement he made during one of our recorded discussions: “We were born for this battle! Every Christian is a soldier, a member of God’s resistance in spiritual warfare. Christians must oppose evil. The moment we lose sight of this, we become aimless in our actions and fuzzy in our focus. We forget why we were born and what we are trained and equipped to do on the battlefield–and we die without ever knowing why we lived. Most important, we never complete the mission we were sent to accomplish.”
So what is our mission? It is to return the world to its rightful owner—God. But the devil does everything possible to thwart that goal. These are a few facts Brother Andrew expressed about the spiritual war:
- The church and the world are deadly enemies.
- It appears that evil has the upper hand, but Christ will ultimately be victorious.
- God’s hand, though unseen, is working.
- Prayer moves the unseen hand of God.
So we, as the body of Christ, must join together and take up arms against Satan. We have the authority to challenge his power with all the resources God has given us.
In Ephesians, Paul tells us to put on the full armor of God “so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes” (6:11). So we buckle on the belt of truth and fasten the breastplate of righteousness. We hold up the shield of faith and grab the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. We are dressed for battle, but where’s the fight? Paul explains with these instructions: “pray in the spirit on all occasions” (6:18).”
Prayer is the battlefield!
Paul requests prayer for himself that he will boldly proclaim the mystery of the gospel (6:19). This is a prayer we need to pray for one another, that we will be faithful in spreading the gospel in our communities and beyond. Our missionaries need us to pray for them to be bold in proclaiming the Good News of the Kingdom. Our persecuted brothers and sisters need our prayers for faithfulness in loving and declaring Christ to their persecutors.
2 Critical Questions
So are you dressed for battle? If you aren’t, you are vulnerable–for your real enemy, the devil, prowls around looking for those he can devour (1 Peter 5:8).
So let me join Brother Andrew by asking you these questions:
- What evidence do you see of spiritual warfare in your life, in your family, in your community? What does this tell you about how to pray?
- Now consider how the war is impacting the lives of persecuted Christians around the world. How will this change the way you pray for them?
P.S. To stay engaged in the spiritual battle, I highly recommend the Open Doors Prayer App. Click here if you’d like to download it on your smart phone.
Photo: Brother Andrew prays with President Savimbi of Angola in 1978.