Ski Masks, Machine Guns, and the Peace of God

In January 2000, seminary student James was in Kosovo on his first mission trip, just months after a NATO bombing had forced Serbian troops to leave the country. The war was barely over. Buildings were still smoking. Tanks were rolling down the streets.

James was part of a small team delivering aid to Albanian refugees. As the team drove home from an evening church service, their van’s headlight revealed a roadblock manned by six soldiers with ski masks and machine guns. The mission team was terrified at the thought of coming face to face with Serbian rebels.

One of the masked soldiers tapped the muzzle of his weapon against the driver’s window. The soldiers shouted and gestured with their machine guns. Though they were not speaking English, it was clear that they wanted everyone out of the van immediately.

James and the others lined up in front of the van as the soldiers pulled the driver off to the side.

“We didn’t know what to think,” James says. “We were praying and I just remember … this amazing peace came over me.”

A few moments later, the soldiers ordered everyone back on the van. They weren’t Serbians after all, but a group of Italian soldiers assigned to a UN peacekeeping force. Their ski masks were only to keep them warm on the cold night.

Nevertheless, those moments were crucial in James’s life. When facing the potential danger, he knew that he was ready to die for his faith. He came back from the trip with a heart to reach the world, and a deep calling to Central and Eastern Europe.

When Paul was traveling to Jerusalem during his third missionary journey, he knew that arrest, imprisonment, and even possible death awaited him. Yet he said: 

But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. (Acts 20:24)

Paul’s life was not precious to him. It’s a word that means honored, costly, or of great worth and value. When Paul weighed his own life against the souls of those who needed to hear the message of Jesus, their salvation far outweighed his own safety.

There is …

… no price too dear …

… no distance too far …

… no sacrifice too painful …

… no risk too great …

… no cost too high … to take the gospel to the ends of the earth.

Have a great day, and keep moving forward!