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Syria Conflict & Bible Prophecy

Sarin gas victim, Syria

Sarin gas victim, Syria (Photo credit: Ninian Reid)

O.k., first let me say that I am by no means a Bible scholar.  I just wish to shed light on a subject that has come to the the forefront as of recent, even making its way to national news outlets such as Fox News:  Whether the recent activity in Syria points to the impending fulfillment of Bible prophecy or not.  http://video.foxnews.com/v/2660399900001/biblical-prophecy-of-syrian-crisis/

Let me preface my thoughts by saying that I grew up with a healthy or unhealthy fear of the “end times.”  I used to feel afraid when I saw my dad watching the world news.  Some of the things I saw happening in other countries just seemed very scary.  And I knew that these events were analyzed in my immediate sphere of influence as a sign of the end times.  It also seemed that the election of certain presidents throughout my childhood hinted at the demise of “Christianity” and the final judge and rule of God.  But I’m not quite sure where I picked up that idea.  So no pointing fingers.

At a young age, I just wanted all of the scary stuff to go away.  I wanted to live in hope for my future and believe that I’d live a full and happy life regardless of what was happening around the world.

Somewhere in the span of my “finding a mate” years, my attention was never drawn to subjects such as Biblical prophecy and my mind was mainly focused on building a family and making money to support that family.

Fast forward to an irreversible adulthood and the awareness of my existence has shrunken to a meaningless speck of dust on the world map.  And it seems impossible to ignore all the signs of something happening- that surround me.  My point of reference keeps shifting though–like I’m getting jerked back and forth by one of those unfriendly roller coasters that may or may not be safe.

One day, I’m living on the surface, aware that I need to take my daughter to school, make sure a few shirts are ironed, cook dinner for my family, go to bed only to wake up and do it again.  On another day, I come across videos of children (who are my children’s ages) in Syria choking from some sort of chemical weapon attack.  And on yet another day, to my spirit’s regret, I waste my time watching one of the Hollywood movies that to me, makes light of some of the most gruesome acts of violence against humanity one could think to commit- all in the name of entertainment.

Amidst all of this, I read articles about the latest “trends” in worship and how it affects a Christian’s “experience” of God.  In-between I get stuck on some message boards of naysayers who are making self-assured fun of the Biblical nuts who keep getting their prophecy timelines wrong.  And then I sporadically think, well even if I’m nuts, perhaps it would be advantageous for me to at least call attention on Twitter and Facebook to the recent correlation between the latest happenings in Syria and the possible fulfillment of Biblical prophecy.

So then I Tweet.   And I wonder if the “Christians” who “follow” me on Twitter will re-tweet, so that they may be a conduit of some “warning” that ‘all may not be well in the world’ and in fact that ‘Jesus may be coming soon, so don’t worry so much about what to eat or drink or post on Twitter.’  That the next worship retreat may be a little less relevant in the scheme of global news.  But not one person has re-tweeted me yet.  And not one person on FB has shared my update or liked it, for that matter.

What is interesting, or at least to me, is that it isn’t the current events that led me to explore my Bible.  It was my Bible that led me to explore current events (I was reading some prophetic passages in the Old Testament and remembered something about Syria that had passed my mind in the form of a dream, so I Googled Syria and Bible prophecy).  The more I read my Bible, the more the culture in which I live seems extremely irrelevant and almost sinisterly laughable.  But don’t get me wrong, I do question my sanity and the way that I process Scripture.

I assume that the reason Bible passages seem in such stark contrast to how I’m currently gauging my life’s meaning, is because my reading of the Bible is biased toward the way I was raised–to believe that the Bible is actually true and not just a book from which to pick random passages to recite on Sunday morning.  Call me crazy, but what is the point of believing in God, if we do not at the same time, believe we are a part of the history or future of things prophesied in God’s Word?

I absolutely hate the fact that the Bible inconveniences us in such a way that it doesn’t exactly align with the fairy tales we tell our children.  But how can we go to church Sunday after Sunday (or stay at home Sunday after Sunday), purporting to be Christians, yet disassociating ourselves with the reality of the tragic events that are ACTUALLY happening across the world?  And by disassociating, I mean continuing to live the same lifestyle, the lifestyle that by all outward appearance gives witness to the fact that we do not actually believe God is an active agent in the world.  Our moments of silence will only take us so far.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not sure what I believe.  I say I believe in Jesus because I think I believe that’s what will save me from hell.   I say I believe in God’s Word because it’s what gives testament to the other things which I also say I believe.   But my days are more concerned with my life from the angle of my lifetime on earth, NOT with my life from the perspective of eternity.  Half of my time is spent languishing the fact that I’m not more popular or that I’m not one of those “cool” people who easily attracts friends.  The other half of my time is spent regretting the inconvenience of knowing there are others who have less than me.

For those who say the Bible should be completely written off as a collection of fables, they only say that from the comfort and safety of their own couch.  I guarantee you that if they were a little closer to the happenings in the major parts of the world where war and famine reign, they would think a little bit harder about “choosing this day who’d they serve.”  They’d spend a little less time laughing at Hollywood’s sick disregard for humanity and a little bit more time fighting for life, fighting to find the Truth about life and death because death seems a wee bit more inevitable.

So how is Syria and Biblical prophecy related to us?  Why does it matter if we believe in God’s Word or not?  Are world events relevant to us and our children?  What is the safety, the assurance that you hold in your heart today?  From firsthand experience, having been exposed to International politics in some round about ways, I can tell you that America is a stack of cards.  I love the fact that I was born in America and that I’ve been safe up to this point–that I have freedom to write what I’m writing and that my children weren’t just gassed to death by our government.  But don’t be fooled, God is not mocked.  America is not our Savior and peace is only God’s to give.

I don’t understand why so many Americans and even Christians laugh off the talk about “impending doom.”  But yet they love to watch movies about aliens and disease that threaten to destroy humanity in a final showdown after which only TWO humans will survive thereafter to populate the earth again.  Do you see the irony in millions of dollars being spent to give moviegoers the high of watching criminal activities take place on a big screen, when the evil is ACTUALLY alive and well in our world, killing the lives of many?

Maybe the reason we’re so slow to believe, is because we’ve never been face to face with death.

Perhaps the reason Christianity is becoming more and more irrelevant is because it’s become the religion of marginality.

If in fact, we spent a few days up against famine and sword, our hearts and minds would turn to finding answers beyond our own reason and imagination.

Some will say it’s selfish for others to “focus” on impending doom, stealing the “quality” of life away from their children by turning into apocalyptic nuts.  And I used to feel the same, as a child who still felt or hoped that I had a lifetime to live.  But what about all the children who were just gassed?  Is it fair to them that we evaluate life only by our own sense of “national security?”

I could go on.

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Expectations

book

Story of a man’s immigration journey from a primitive African village to the United States Air Force Academy as an international exchange cadet. Stark images of the dissonance between two worlds, one where poverty reigns and the other where goodwill outweighs good sense. This book reveals the epic struggle of immigrants everywhere searching for a better life in the United States, only to find that what they’ve left behind haunts them even past pledging their allegiance to a new flag of hope.
Adopting America contains vivid imagery of what it’s like to try to exist within a world that is not your own–of how it feels to adopt the ways of the Western world. A true story of International Adoption intertwines with the plot to give a realistic view of what it’s like to adopt children from a third world country and hope they adopt American ways.
This book also includes a detailed account of life as an international exchange cadet at the United States Air Force Academy, with contrasts to third world military systems in comparison to the more developed U.S. military.

‘expectations’ is Googled 1.5 million times per month globally.
For anyone who thrives on the expectations of others, the Academy is an excellent breeding ground for reaching your full potential because no one expects less than the best, the best in terms of a high communal standard that isn’t based on individual perception of excellence, but on an institutionalized standard of success that is tightly woven into a long history of Academy and American military life.  After life at the Academy, it is hard to match the high of the camaraderie that is a natural product of living and breathing together with those whose goals are almost always the same—to meet the expectations of those who have the power to promote or demote.

Back in the academy days, when the sights of life were unending and my hope was bursting at the seams for what I could do to help my family, I was ever ready to take the calls of my mother, father, brothers, sisters and friends.  I knew I couldn’t give them everything they wanted, but I wanted to do everything within my power to improve their lives at a distance.  Helping my family has always felt deeper than an obligation and at times it was the idea of completing a divine assignment that kept me motivated to do more.   The major frustration was the calls I would receive reporting that someone else in our family or circle of friends was sick again.  The main pain was not in the fact that I may have not had money at the time to send but in the fact that I felt powerless to completely make someone well again.  And then to put the cherry on top of feeling so far away from a sick loved one who was solely counting on me—sometimes I wasn’t sure if the reports were real.  Toward the end of my school days in Colorado Springs, I started to get more frequent calls reporting that my mom was not doing well.  I felt sad, mad and sometimes confused that perhaps my family was just stooping as low as they could go to convince me that I needed to complete another Western Union transaction.

“Was my mom really as sick as they reported her to be?” I would think.

“She was healthy when I left.  How could her health deteriorate so fast?”

But ninety-nine times out of a hundred, I would send the money that was requested.  Somehow, some way, if it was within my power, I would send what I could.  My only regret is that sometimes, because of the numerous demands that would come in no logical sequence of order—I would not spare the harsh words that I’d hoped would slow the requests and at least filter the sincere from the insincere.  When in reality, after my Academy graduation, upon my return to Cameroon, just as my family had told me—my mother was indeed quickly declining in health.

Just before graduation, in the heat of wondering whether I was really going to make it to the finish line or not—I got an unexpected call—telling me my resident father had passed away.  I was probably in shock, even though upon my only leisure visit home during my tenure at the Academy, my father had shown me a growth that I now assume was cancer, growing in his stomach area, already the size of a baseball.  I really didn’t know what to do then, and especially not after the call, when I realized there was nothing left to do.  I knew the funeral would take money, at least fifteen hundred to two thousand dollars and I was certain there was no way I would be able to return home for the burial of my father, with the cost of a round-trip ticket to Cameroon being right around three thousand dollars at the time.  From this point on, I was surprisingly overwhelmed by the concern of my classmates, who had never really had the chance to show me they cared.  Everyone was so thoughtful and sensitive to my loss, even when I wasn’t able to immediately identify what it was that I’d be missing.  The Academy’s kindness even extended to financing my trip home by way of funds that were available for such use at the discretion of the Air Force Academy chaplaincy.  Within a day, I found myself on a plane back to Cameroon for the burial ceremony and all that followed.  Little did I know that my mother would also be buried within less than a year from that time.

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Joy Riding

United States Air Force Academy Book

Story of a man’s immigration journey from a primitive African village to the United States Air Force Academy as an international exchange cadet. Stark images of the dissonance between two worlds, one where poverty reigns and the other where goodwill outweighs good sense. This book reveals the epic struggle of immigrants everywhere searching for a better life in the United States, only to find that what they’ve left behind haunts them even past pledging their allegiance to a new flag of hope.
Adopting America contains vivid imagery of what it’s like to try to exist within a world that is not your own–of how it feels to adopt the ways of the Western world. A true story of International Adoption intertwines with the plot to give a realistic view of what it’s like to adopt children from a third world country and hope they adopt American ways.
This book also includes a detailed account of life as an international exchange cadet at the United States Air Force Academy, with contrasts to third world military systems in comparison to the more developed U.S. military.

‘how to steal a car’ is Googled around 27,000 times per month globally.
My uncle that initially refused to let me stay with him in Yaoundé eventually gave in after several times of me showing up at his doorstep to plead my case.  He lived on the campus of one of the most prestigious seminaries in Cameroon, situated on an elevated plane right in the heart of Yaoundé.  Off of his back porch, you could see a panoramic view of the city, with a heavy mix of vegetation, city lights and stars that filled the sky on clear nights.  His house was very modern in comparison to the shacks common to most that lived in Yaoundé, excluding the homes of the most elite that were reserved for Cameroonian politicians or ex-patriots, most often from America or Europe.  He had a bathroom with a sink, stand-up shower and toilet.  The only problem was that there was little to no water pressure in the line that ran to the bathroom.  This meant that you had to shower with a steady drip of water and that you may or may not be able to flush the toilet when needed.  At night and during the day when no one was taking a shower, a bucket was left inside the shower to catch the slow leak of water that could not be stopped when completely turned off so that the collected water could be used for bathing or washing clothes.

There was also a kitchen area where meals were cooked if there was food to be eaten.  My uncle had, what I thought at the time, to be strange mannerisms and ways of interacting with all of us who lived in the house.  The house had three bedrooms, a large living room connected to a small dining area and a small kitchen that led outside to where there was another room built onto the side of the house.  That small side room is where I eventually settled in as a roommate to two other young men around my age who were in some way connected to our family.  The oldest of the two, a very well read and educated individual, probably around eight years my senior, was working on his Master’s degree and arrived to my uncle’s shortly after me.  The youngest of us three, was Betron.  He was around two years younger than me and quite the lady’s man, to say the least.  Benjo’s intelligence and Betron’s suave made for an interesting mix, as my personality was still finding its own.  I identified with both of them and as the new member of our group; I was always the wild card.

One day Betron convinced me it would be fun to take a joy ride in my uncle’s car.  To this day, I don’t know why I’m alive after that incident.  But neither of us knew how to drive a stick shift and somehow we ended up wedged in the thick traffic with lots of honking and cursing directed our way.  Betron was driving and as we sputtered along, hardly able to keep the car going because the clutch would lock up and we’d panic that the car would stop right then and there without us reaching our final destination, which was of course, back at the house, parked in the driveway, with the wheels turned just like my uncle had left them.  For those few moments, Betron, the clever womanizer of a milder blend, enjoyed winking at the ladies out the window as we choked our way down the street.  Having a car in Cameroon was a sure lady magnet and our inability to woo the women one on one, for fear of them seeing our boyish physique up close, made a quick stroll in the car effectively spark our imagination of what could be.  Unfortunately our fun was short lived and we ended up getting into the classic fender bender that marks a memory for future reference when we have our own children who grow to do stupid things just like us.  Almost quicker than I’d realized we had been in a crash, Betron had deserted the car and left me to figure out what to do next.  Our punishment was complete and utter silence from our uncle, without any glimpse of hope that he would ever speak to us again.  A mild punishment for one who never wanted his acknowledgement to begin with.  But for me, his silence felt very personal, perhaps a clear indication that he didn’t care how careless my mistake had been, because he didn’t expect more from me anyway.

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Staying on the Front Porch

United States Air Force Academy Book
Story of a man’s immigration journey from a primitive African village to the United States Air Force Academy as an international exchange cadet. Stark images of the dissonance between two worlds, one where poverty reigns and the other where goodwill outweighs good sense. This book reveals the epic struggle of immigrants everywhere searching for a better life in the United States, only to find that what they’ve left behind haunts them even past pledging their allegiance to a new flag of hope. Adopting America contains vivid imagery of what it’s like to try to exist within a world that is not your own–of how it feels to adopt the ways of the Western world. A true story of International Adoption intertwines with the plot to give a realistic view of what it’s like to adopt children from a third world country and hope they adopt American ways. This book also includes a detailed account of life as an international exchange cadet at the United States Air Force Academy, with contrasts to third world military systems in comparison to the more developed U.S. military.

‘front porch’ is Googled around 165,000 times per month globally.

I often wonder what it would have been like if I had just stayed in the village and never even knew what it was like on the outside.  Sometimes I think staying put would have saved me from always wanting more.  Maybe eventually, had I never ventured out, age would have put a damper on my imagination and I would have magically become content with what I had right then and there.  But from the village to the city, from the city to America, and from America to who knows where, I frequently come across individuals who rarely travel farther than their front porch.   Sometimes I feel sorry for them—thinking they have no idea what they’re missing.  But when life gets hard and my vision gets blurred–I lose any clue as to where I’ll eventually end up, and I think about buying a rocking chair and settling in too.  Then someone else close to me dies.  Within the past five years, having already lost both my resident father and birth mother, I often feel the urgency of life closing in on me—reassuring me again, that it isn’t my personal taste to die a screened in death.

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Walking the Streets

Story of a man's immigration journey from a primitive African village to the United States Air Force Academy as an international exchange cadet. Stark images of the dissonance between two worlds, one where poverty reigns and the other where goodwill outweighs good sense. This book reveals the epic struggle of immigrants everywhere searching for a better life in the United States, only to find that what they've left behind haunts them even past pledging their allegiance to a new flag of hope.  Adopting America contains vivid imagery of what it's like to try to exist within a world that is not your own--of how it feels to adopt the ways of the Western world. A true story of International Adoption intertwines with the plot to give a realistic view of what it's like to adopt children from a third world country and hope they adopt American ways.  This book also includes a detailed account of life as an international exchange cadet at the United States Air Force Academy, with contrasts to third world military systems in comparison to the more developed U.S. military.

Story of a man’s immigration journey from a primitive African village to the United States Air Force Academy as an international exchange cadet. Stark images of the dissonance between two worlds, one where poverty reigns and the other where goodwill outweighs good sense. This book reveals the epic struggle of immigrants everywhere searching for a better life in the United States, only to find that what they’ve left behind haunts them even past pledging their allegiance to a new flag of hope.
Adopting America contains vivid imagery of what it’s like to try to exist within a world that is not your own–of how it feels to adopt the ways of the Western world. A true story of International Adoption intertwines with the plot to give a realistic view of what it’s like to adopt children from a third world country and hope they adopt American ways.
This book also includes a detailed account of life as an international exchange cadet at the United States Air Force Academy, with contrasts to third world military systems in comparison to the more developed U.S. military.

‘walking on the street’ is Googled around 135,000 times per month globally.

Military Bar 010
Beer Joint in Cameroon
  crowdedstreet
Crowded Streets of Yaounde, Cameroon

My resident father wasn’t an alcoholic but then again alcoholics aren’t that easy to identify when glazed over eyes often signal hunger, not drunkenness.  Beer joints are so common in Cameroon, that it’s easier for someone to grab a beer than to grab a snack.  If you’ve ever been to an old time farmer’s market or outdoor flea market in the Deep South, you’ve seen something close to what all of Cameroon resembles—one big fairground where the scent of smoked meats and motorbike pollution runs wild. The streets are lined with small time vendors who are selling anything from recycled water bottles to Nike knockoffs.  In the city of Yaoundé and Doula, the two largest cities in Cameroon, the streets are so crowded, you are hard pressed to find your own way because there is usually one big movement of individuals tightly rubbing shoulders, all going in the same direction—kind of like the halls of a public high school where the weakest individuals easily get lost in the congested mix and often end up reporting to the wrong homeroom.  The first time I found myself walking the streets, at my initial arrival in the city, I felt a lot like the pre-pubescent adolescent that I was, completely obsessed with what other people thought of me—wondering if the city slickers noticed how hard it was for me to keep walking without getting knocked down.    I later realized that no one cared.  They actually just wanted to get where they were going without any clumsy obstacles in their way.  So I learned to walk fast and dart in and out and under so that I could stay out of the way of everyone who always seemed to have somewhere more important to go.    After a few weeks of practice shuffling through the streets, I felt like an expert when someone else would run into me and I still managed to stay standing.

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African Fire

Story of a man's immigration journey from a primitive African village to the United States Air Force Academy as an international exchange cadet. Stark images of the dissonance between two worlds, one where poverty reigns and the other where goodwill outweighs good sense. This book reveals the epic struggle of immigrants everywhere searching for a better life in the United States, only to find that what they've left behind haunts them even past pledging their allegiance to a new flag of hope.  Adopting America contains vivid imagery of what it's like to try to exist within a world that is not your own--of how it feels to adopt the ways of the Western world. A true story of International Adoption intertwines with the plot to give a realistic view of what it's like to adopt children from a third world country and hope they adopt American ways.  This book also includes a detailed account of life as an international exchange cadet at the United States Air Force Academy, with contrasts to third world military systems in comparison to the more developed U.S. military.

Story of a man’s immigration journey from a primitive African village to the United States Air Force Academy as an international exchange cadet. Stark images of the dissonance between two worlds, one where poverty reigns and the other where goodwill outweighs good sense. This book reveals the epic struggle of immigrants everywhere searching for a better life in the United States, only to find that what they’ve left behind haunts them even past pledging their allegiance to a new flag of hope.
Adopting America contains vivid imagery of what it’s like to try to exist within a world that is not your own–of how it feels to adopt the ways of the Western world. A true story of International Adoption intertwines with the plot to give a realistic view of what it’s like to adopt children from a third world country and hope they adopt American ways.
This book also includes a detailed account of life as an international exchange cadet at the United States Air Force Academy, with contrasts to third world military systems in comparison to the more developed U.S. military.

‘African fire’ is Googled around 12,000 times per month globally.
Aside from each of us just trying to make it on our own, there were times of communal progress where we could at least all agree that we were hungry and wanted something to eat.  At these times we would click into place like a well oiled machine and assume our individual duties to scrape together a meal that would get us by until the next time.  My job as one of the youngest was to gather small sticks for starting the fire.  A menial job but nonetheless important because should everyone decide they were too good to fetch firewood, our modest cuisine would go uncooked.

In African villages, I think it would be safe to say the fire is the cornerstone of everyday life, around which you might eat, sleep, play, gossip, fight and even grieve a lost loved one.  There’s always something that makes home seem like home, an aroma that even if blindfolded, lets you know you’re there now.  One of the first things you’ll notice when arriving in Cameroon and any other country predominately characterized by underdevelopment, are fires of every size lining the landscape, lighting the way.  I’ve heard that if it’s your first time visiting such a place, the fires can seem daunting, unwelcome warnings about the dangers of flippant sight seeing.  But for me, upon returning home, the bright flashes of fire just sideline what I always see first—a mom earning her day’s wages cooking seasoned fish fried to perfection, a young boy standing in the shadow of its light trying his best to win over the affection of his life’s love, or a father drinking the last sip he can afford in hopes of washing his cares away.

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My Father

Story of a man's immigration journey from a primitive African village to the United States Air Force Academy as an international exchange cadet. Stark images of the dissonance between two worlds, one where poverty reigns and the other where goodwill outweighs good sense. This book reveals the epic struggle of immigrants everywhere searching for a better life in the United States, only to find that what they've left behind haunts them even past pledging their allegiance to a new flag of hope.  Adopting America contains vivid imagery of what it's like to try to exist within a world that is not your own--of how it feels to adopt the ways of the Western world. A true story of International Adoption intertwines with the plot to give a realistic view of what it's like to adopt children from a third world country and hope they adopt American ways.  This book also includes a detailed account of life as an international exchange cadet at the United States Air Force Academy, with contrasts to third world military systems in comparison to the more developed U.S. military.

Story of a man’s immigration journey from a primitive African village to the United States Air Force Academy as an international exchange cadet. Stark images of the dissonance between two worlds, one where poverty reigns and the other where goodwill outweighs good sense. This book reveals the epic struggle of immigrants everywhere searching for a better life in the United States, only to find that what they’ve left behind haunts them even past pledging their allegiance to a new flag of hope.
Adopting America contains vivid imagery of what it’s like to try to exist within a world that is not your own–of how it feels to adopt the ways of the Western world. A true story of International Adoption intertwines with the plot to give a realistic view of what it’s like to adopt children from a third world country and hope they adopt American ways.
This book also includes a detailed account of life as an international exchange cadet at the United States Air Force Academy, with contrasts to third world military systems in comparison to the more developed U.S. military.

‘fatherless’ is Googled around 22,000 times per month globally.
I don’t know who my father is and I’m not sure I’d ever taken the time to care had I not been introduced to the very western idea that fatherless children are sociological cripples living one-dimensional lives.  Or it could be that I’ve had to fill out one too many forms where my only option was to leave some spaces blank.  But, in my mind and on the verge of my tongue, I’ve always had a story to tell—a father figure to paint as having been  there for me, if not always when I needed him, at least when I needed him the most.  One father, I’ve carried in my pocket for quite some time.  Having never really known him—it was his small wallet sized headshot that increased in value overtime—until I don’t know what I’d do if I had to stop supposing he could be the one.  Then there was the resident father.  The one who could tell me what to do and follow-up with threats of violence should I foolishly decide not to follow his lead.  Most of the time, in the village, he was physically there.  We all lived together.  Him, my mom, and all ten of us children.