Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Seeking and Finding

Vacation is a good thing. I like to get away to a beach and read lots of books when I can. It usually happens every few years or so. Way out east is a far away country that I will call Dale. It is a peninsula on the sea and now my daughters go to school there. One year we went there and had a great vacation. We stayed in the Capitol City for a few days, then went up to the mountains, then out to an island for a week. I had been doing the good dad thing up to that point and one day out on the island I decided that it was time to really get by myself and seek God. I needed to hear from Him about many important things that were happening and for that I figured I needed some dedicated alone time.

The island had a large hill in the middle of it all covered in jungle. I grabbed my camera and my Bible and headed out the gate of the hotel, turned up the road toward the village and began to look for a path up the hill and into the jungle. I had not gone even two hundred yards when up came old Tom. He approached me from the boat docks and asked me where I was going. I said I was heading up the hill. He introduced himself to me and began walking with me. He ran a tourist boat there on the island and was just getting off work. I told him that I really just wanted to go up and see if I could get a picture of a monkey or two. I didn’t need any help. No, no really, I will be fine on my own. Please, just…. I …. you don’t have to…. But I was not willing to be out and out rude to the guy. I really did not want to be with him. I was really despairing of wasting the only time I was going to get away by myself.

As we went through the villlage he said, ‘Wait right here, I need to get my walking shoes.’ He turned into a Budhist Temple while I stood wondering two things, how am I going to ditch this guy, and does he really live in this Temple?

He came out with his shoes on and we started up the road. I don’t know why he wanted to come with me. I told him I didn’t have any money but he said he didn ‘t need any. He was off work and was happy to wander around with a tourist. He said he knew a great place to see monkeys. I said, ‘So, you live in that …. temple?’ ‘Yes’, he said, ‘Isn’t it sad? All those poor hopeless people.’ I wondered about that. ‘So, you don’t believe um, your not a Budhist?’ He said that no, he was not a Budhist but that he rented a room in the back from an old woman who owned the temple. ‘So, what do you believe?’ ‘I am a Christian’, he said. I was floored. I am on an unreached island in a Muslim country. How is he a Christian? I asked him his story. He told me that he was working on one of the big ships that run the shipping lanes in that part of the world and a guy shared the truth with him. He had a Bible but after leaving that ship had had almost no contact with other believers. As far as he knew he was the only believer on the island and he was lonely.

He shared Psalm 23 with me. From memory. I talked with him all afternoon. We found a little cove with lots and lots of monkeys and I fed them bananas as we continued to talk about the King. We prayed together and then as the sun set we came back over the hill to the village. I said good bye and he gave me a ball cap. It was red and he told me, ‘Every time you see this cap or put it on your head you pray for old Tom.’ I still do.

As I walked up that final two hundred yards back to the hotel by myself the King spoke to me. I said, ‘Hey, I thought I was going to get some time with you to hear from you today?’ He said, ‘So you did. Whenever you seek me you will find me. When you find me you will find that I am always with needy people who need my touch. ‘

This answered pretty much all my questions. You want to ‘find God’? Go out and serve someone who needs you. He’s there. This then is my strategy, my methodology, my philosophy of ministry all rolled up into one story.

Taste and see.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

All I need is Jesus

I travel a lot in my work. Journeys always remind me of the journey we are all on. I often learn important lessons along the way. One day I was traveling by taxi up over the high pass at Caradhas and on down the long valley that leads into Rohan and the great city of Edoras. In the taxi were fourteen people whom I did not know. We were crammed into the jeep and it was easily one of the most uncomfortable rides I have ever had. Caradhas can hardly be considered a pass as the broken rock shelf that locals call a road meanders up nearly 4000 meters. As we wound our way up the ten year old girl who was packed in near my feet in the middle of the taxi got motion sickness. We knew she was ill because she kept throwing up in the jeep. The parents asked me if I had any medicine and I replied that I had some peptobismal but that would only help if her stomach was upset, not her head. She took the tablets which were not particularly helpful. After that all her vomit was bright pink. As we trundled along in this pleasant way I began to tally up the things I needed to do on this trip. I needed to get to Edoras and meet with some friends, have a meeting about the work, eat dinner with some former neighbors, and two or three other completely ridiculous and unrealistic expectations. The journey can take as little as six hours even though a sane driver would do it in eight. Our jeep was not doing the job. It was slow. Finally, we reached the other side of the pass and were heading down the river valley. We made several detours to drop people off. I was glad to get rid of some of the passengers and get some leg room. I was particularly glad when the young sick girl and her family got off- out of compassion for her, of course! But then we came to a bridge that was out. It was normal practice back then- though they are in good shape now- to have cars and trucks drive over the bridges in that valley until gapping holes the size eighteen wheel trucks appeared. Then the best part of the population of a local village would pour onto the bridge with wood and cover up the holes. This usually took a couple of hours and then traffic would resume again. I began to check things off my list. Well, eight hours are up, I guess that means no meeting in the afternoon. Then ten hours were up and that meant no meeting with the former neighbors. Then twelve hours.... then fourteen.... I was hoping against hope that I could get there in time for any kind of meal at all before I went to bed. I was hungry, very tired, and wearing all the dust of Middle Earth. My head was spinning from all the zig-zagging back and forth on the road and I was thoroughly irritated. I laid my weary head against the window and looked up. The stars were out in force and they were gorgeous. Unbidden a song came into my head. 'All I need is Jesus. All I need is Jesus All I really need is Him.' It was an old Farrel and Farrel tune from the early Eighties. I had not thought of it in years. 'All I need is Jesus. All I need is Jesus. All I really need is Him.' It repeated over and over, soft and reassuring. And then it hit me. Is that true? Is He all that I need? Because He is here. I know that theologically more than experiencially but still I believe that He is. And IF He is then, according to this song, I have what I need. All of it. The striving, the juggling of plans, the worry and the irritation are all lies. They are not true because they are not what I need even if I tell myself that I need them. I relaxed there in that moment and knew peace for the first time in fourteen hours. Today, why don't you do the same?

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

A Gift of Hope

This blog is primarily about stories. I like to tell stories alot. But today I am 44 years old. Even though this is of no interest to most of you this is my blog and I thought I would document the fact. I would also like to say that my e-mail server has died a sudden and violent death and so I can not access any e-mails at my address. This is very inconvenient. So for all my friends who have written to wish me happy birthday (and you both know who you are) I am sorry I did not get it. I will get a new e-mail address maybe tomorrow and let you all know what it is. So, that's all I had for today.
Well, maybe one story. I have skirted the edges of talking about humanitarian aid for awhile now and would like to begin the discussion with an old tale. Ten years ago, just after the end of the great civil war here in Gondor there was a pitched battle with a small band of rebel soldiers right outside the walls of Minas Tirith. The battle lasted three days and at the end everyone was overjoyed that the rebels not only lost but that the country did not dive back into civil war. So everyone, including the Government, UN, and various aid agencies breathed a sigh of relief and moved on as if nothing had happened. Unfortunately that did not help the small community that saw sixty homes destroyed and over one hundred civilians killed. We had friends out there so we went out to see how they were doing. Gimli and Bilbo got busy right away fixing up houses, so that people would have a place to be in the winter, and distributing food and kitchen supplies to some forty families who were most needy. We were new in the country and didn't speak the language well but we loved people well and we prayed in English or broken Gondorese every time we went onto someone's property. We learned alot in that event but I want to talk about Nob.
Nob had seen his brother shot to death on his own doorstep and was devestated. When we found him his house was burned down and he was sitting in his detached kitchen with no will left even to get up. Fall was turning to winter as we helped many people get ready for the cold. Nob's house was next on the list of those we could help but the snows came and we ran out of time to construct anything. We held a big meal for all those in the community and shared with them as best we could why we were helping them. Nob stood up. He went on and on about how we had saved his life. We had given him hope. We had given life back to the community. I could not understand it because in the end we had not helped him- physically. Even though Nob never became a follower of Jesus our lives changed his life. His house was not only broken but he was bound by lies and oppression. We didn't fix his house but by freeing him from the depression he was in he was able to buy a bigger house the next spring. He did it without our money. He did it with the hope that we gave him. He studied the Word with me for a year and then moved on. I have not seen him in a long time. But that is not the point. Ultimately salvation is about Jesus and Nob. Strider is not in the picture. I am not his savior. But I did have a role to play. I was to present the Savior in an understandable way. We did and Nob was changed. That is what we are to be about in this world. As we live out our faith we shine a light that drives out the darkness and changes others forever. The UN, Red Cross, and other relief agencies can do wonderful things with big budgets but they can't bring the true answer for overcoming poverty and despair. Hope. The reality that there is an almighty King who loves you and is calling you. This is true aid. Humanitarian? Nope, divine.

Monday, November 20, 2006


When we came out to Middle Earth there were many things to adjust to. One thing that was new to me was the unreal level of injustice. Injustice makes me angry. Everyone I know out here has a traffic police story to tell about how they were abused . Many of my friends say with pride that they will NEVER pay a bribe. I used to be like that. Full of righteous indignation I would argue with those who sought to abuse me. One day I saw myself too clearly.
I was traveling in a taxi with a bunch of nationals I did not know up over a high mountain pass. As we approached the top there was a baracade across the road. Next to the baracade there was a sign that said that the road was closed from 8am to 11am. Well, it was nearly noon and the gate was still down. More importantly, I had been over this road many times and there had never been a post here before. A couple of old men sat by the road on a bench near the gate. The driver called out, 'Hey, what's going on?' One guy slowly got up and came over. The driver said, 'So, what's the deal here? Do you need money? Here, take 25 cents.' Now, you don't know what was going on in my heart at the time. I was fuming. Who were these guys to set up an illegal checkpoint and take our money? They had no right to do this. And why was our driver giving in to this extortion so easlily? Could he not see that these guys were stealing from us? They were evil. They should all be brutally slaughtered. So runs the unchecked thoughts deep in my heart.
The gate went up and we drove on. The driver looked over his shoulder and spoke to us (gosh, I wish he wouldn't do that on these mountain roads). "These people are so poor up here. They really have nothing. They are so hungry they will do anything just to get some bread." Tears shot to my eyes. I was accusing HIM of not seeing the situation! I was the one who was blind. I was the one who was unjust. I have traveled over 12,000 miles to show love to these people and I was ready to kill them all for 25 cents? I was sick. All my talk about my hatred for injustice was nothing more than my own selfish pride. I won't bother to list the multitude of verses from Jesus and Paul that talk about laying down our rights for our fellow man. In the end Galatians 2:20 is not too strong a verse. I need to be crucified with Christ so that I no longer live but Christ would live in me. Part of me was crucified that day. So much more needs to be.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

The Power of Weakness

Henri Nouen says that it takes a lot of humiliation to build in a little humility. We can always be grateful to a kind and merciful King who is brutily committed to our sanctification. I have been questioned many times about my identity here in Middle Earth. If I am a director of a humanitarian aid agency then can I come in the humility necessary to share the gospel? Will my image as a rich foreigner polute the message that we are coming to bring? I have wrestlled with these questions. I believe in the biblical model that tells us that the suffering Saviour is best represented by suffering servants. If I am the big boss with the big bucks how do I represent the one who sacrificed so much? Fortunately the King is infinitely creative and provides answers to all our problems.
Early last summer there were some serious rains that caused a flash flood in northern Mordor. The local Duke over in Ithilian asked us to get involved. I was in the West at the time so the team decided to go in and do it without me. Frodo and the team went in with help from Gimli and developed a plan to rehabilitate a badly affected village. The team had not worked in Mordor before and they made some mistakes. Specifically they gave out a New Testament to someone who asked for one. This is a mistake for two reasons. One, the vast majority of people in Mordor can not read. Two, people in Mordor are very suspicious about outsiders. The guy who asked for a book was not seeking truth about the King. He was seeking to know the team's motives. He began to bad mouth the team and tell everyone in the village that the team was just out to 'proselytize' the people. Fortunately for the team this man had a bad reputation in the village and few listened to him.
I came back at the end of summer and we decided to take the last of the supplies across the great river Anduin to the village to finish the project. We were helping the villagers to rebuild thirteen flourmills and three water canals. Getting all the permissions to get aid directly across the river was difficult. That is the biggest understatement I have ever made. It was nearly impossible. Gondor and Mordor do not have really friendly relations and that border is a real tension point for many reasons. So, we spent about three weeks getting all the permissions necessary and we rented a boat from the Urukhai. The Urukhai is an agency that specifically helps Ismaili Muslims. We do not usually work with them but are on decent terms with them.
Finally, last October we headed off to Minas Ithil with all our permissions stamped and signed. We arrived there after an eighteen hour drive and we spent several days meeting- or rather missing government officials and finally getting their permissions. After six days we headed toward the village. Osgilioth is a village on the river with a bridge over to Mordor. Our village is about 25 kilometers upstream from the bridge. Sam, Pipen, and I crossed the bridge and walked the distance over the mountain to the village while Frodo and Merry arranged the boat and showed all our permissions to the local officials.
I was prepared to walk 25 kilometers but I was not prepared to walk it straight up and then straight down. The mountain was a nightmare and it really kicked my butt. We crossed the bridge at 4:30 in the afternoon and walked for five hours up over the mountain. There were donkey convoys on the trail so we had some company on the way. By the time I reached the village my legs were cramping furiously and I was soaked with sweat. As soon as we reached the home of the man we were staying with most of the men in the village came around and we stayed up talking late into the night. Now, you might be thinking that after I, an important foreigner had taken the time to walk all the way to their village that they would be really grateful. You don't know people from Mordor. They laughed at me and said, 'It took you five hours to get here? It only takes us three!' 'You must be really soft and weak!' Yeah, thanks a lot.
So, we made a plan. The villagers would go down to the river the next day to receive the material and get it distributed to the workers who needed it. The next morning we got up early and I hobbled down to the river and waited while Sam and Pippen went up and inspected the work that had already been done. At 11:00am the boat showed up on the other side of the river and they set it up and we waited. The materials came by truck and they began to unload and get ready and we waited. Finally, Frodo and Merry came and shouted across the river. There was a problem with the paperwork. They would fix it but it might take awhile. They left and we waited. And waited. At 5:00pm they came and shouted across the river to us. No one could cross. Up until this point it had been obvious how badly the hike had hurt me but I was not sure if it had hurt the guys. Merry shouted, 'We can't come and get you.' Sam shouted back, 'Get over here NOW!' Merry shouted, 'They told us anyone who crossed the river would be arrested.' Sam shouted back, 'We agree!' But they packed up the boat and the materials and they left. Sam, Pipen, and I walked very slowly back up the hill to the village. We would not be back in Gondor tonight. Tomorrow we would walk 25 kilometers back over the mountain. We were really down but on the way up that hill I looked up. I knew the King had us here for a reason. I spoke out loud to Him in english and I said, 'All right, I know you want us here tonight so we can share truth with these people but you are going to have to get my broken body back over that mountain in the morning!'
We sat down in our host's room and again all the leading men of the village came around to see us. There were perhaps twelve or so men there as they began to hassle us about how incompetent we were. 'We waited all day for you guys but you couldn't get the stuff across. Are you incompetent? Don't you know what you are doing? The Urukhai can get stuff here why can't you?' It was not fun. They then got tired of insulting us and started talking about drugs. There is a lot of poppy cultivation going on in Mordor and drugs was something all these guys knew all about. I looked at Pipen and said, 'Have you told them your story?' He said he had not and so he proceeded to tell them about himself.
Pipen is not ethnically from Gondor. He is actually from Angmar who fought a war not so many years ago with Mordor. But he had learned the language in order to minister to them and I agreed to have him on the team. Besides, he was a good guitar player. I knew that the King had saved him out of drugs and that his story would be amazing to those from Mordor. As he told his story they were all laughing and having a great time while he described all the drugs he was taking as he spiraled down in a cycle of self-destruction. Then the room became silent and still as he described how he had lain on the couch feeling his limbs grow cold and his heart slow down. He was going to die. Then he realized he did not know where he would go. What would become of his soul? He turned to the King whom he had heard about from a friend a few weeks before. He rolled off the couch and cried out to the King. Jesus saved him right then. He was free from the drugs and free from sin. His life was purchased by the King and he was now the King's man. They had never heard a story like this. They sat there in silence for a moment as Pipen finished and then one of the men shouted out from the back, 'So, this drug addict has come to help us?' The Sherrif stopped him cold and said, 'Quiet! This man has repented.' Slowly they all filed out. Then we sat alone with our host and his nephew- the student. The Student was about eighteen and one of the only guys in the village who could read. Our host leaned forward and said, 'Who is Jesus anyway?' Sam said, 'Who do you think he is?' He said, 'I have no idea. I have never heard of him, heard stories about him, or known anything about him.' Sam took the next two hours to tell the full story of Jesus starting deep in the Old Testement and concluding with his death and resurrection. They listened very attentively. The last twenty minutes or so the Student sat there with his mouth open and his eyes wide in amazement. He had never heard such a story before and it truly impacted him.
The next morning we left at 3:30am and walked back over the mountain. The King himself strengthened me for the journey so that I was not even tired when we arrived back in Osgilioth. Frodo and Merry told us to rest in a guest house while they tried a few more ideas on how to get the permission they needed to get the materials across the river. We went and laid down and Sam and Pipen went to sleep immediately. I just laid there. Then the King spoke to me. His voice was not audible but it was very clear. He told me that he loves us very much. He went on to say that His Word would have power when we walked in humility. It was in defeat and embarrassment that His Words would come with transforming power. We got up and had lunch. I told the guys what the King had said. I also told them he said we would not get the stuff across on the Urukhai boat. He told me very clearly he would not share His glory with them. Lesson learned. We headed back to Minas Tirith. I expected that after nine days on the road and nothing accomplished that the team would be depressed. It was one big praise and worship party all the way home. The King had used us to spread his gospel in a dark land and He had spoken to us about His love for us. We were pumped.
Two weeks later we did get the stuff across on rafts that the villagers made themselves. We visited there in early summer and our host, the Student, and several others still listen to Christian radio broadcast in their language every day. What will happen there? I have no idea. But I do know that whatever happens I will not get any credit for it. We serve a mighty King who deserves all the glory, honor, and praise.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Just a Thought....

One day as I was meandering along in my life trying to procrastinate writing some reports a thought occured to me. Frodo doesn't like me. He doesn't listen to me. He doesn't respect me. He doesn't get what we are trying to do. I need to fire him. I think our relationship can not continue. So, I decided to let him go after two years of our working together. Then I thought to myself, 'Hang on! None of that is true.' Frodo is my friend and national team leader. We have learned tons together. Why would I think for a moment that any of those thoughts I thought were true. And then I thought another thought. What if those were not my thoughts at all? What if what just happened was an attack of the evil one? It was a thought.
I thought that perhaps the enemy did not like our team very much and maybe he thought it should be disbanded. I thought that perhaps if he was attacking me this way perhaps he was attacking other's thoughts as well.
So, I thought I would ask. I was quite unprepared for the answer. We sat together, Frodo, Merry, Sam, and Pippen and myself and I described what I thought. Merry did not hesitate to answer. Just the other day, he said, he had a big fight with his wife. He said that he told her he would have to quit his job with us and stop ministering with the team. After a heated debate that no doubt centered on both the financial inviabilily of such a move and the consequences to the spiritual work he stormed out of his apartment and sat on a bench in the courtyard. The King clearly said to him, 'Did I ask you to quit?' Merry replied, 'No.' 'Then what are you doing?' the King concluded. Merry went upstairs and apologized to his wife. He told her that he was not quitting the team. She said that of course he wasn't.
Then Sam joined in. He said that just the other day he had a fight with his wife. They had moved up from the south to join the team and his wife was not fond of Minas Tirith. He said he would quit the team and take them all back down south. After a big fight he fled out of the apartment and sat on a bench in the courtyard. The King said to him very clearly, 'Did I ask you to move back down south?' He said, 'No.' 'Then what are you doing?' the King concluded. Sam went back upstairs and told his wife he was not quitting and they were not going back down south. She said that of course they weren't.
In the history of the Church this happens all the time. How many people do you know that have broken relationships and when you try to find out why, you can't find anything at all. I am grateful to the King that he has made us mature enough to see the hand of the enemy in our lives and to overcome it. I think also that I need to pray for wisdom to face the next attack. For now, I just thought that you ought to know that not all the nasty thoughts in your head are your thoughts. Not all the violent thoughts you think proceed from your heart. These thoughts come and when they do you need to disagree with them and cast them out of your mind. Take your thoughts captive for Christ and the King will be honored in all your relationships.

Monday, November 06, 2006

The Walls of Jericho

'There's no sense in reinventing the wheel'. I hate that phrase. I think you should always reinvent the wheel. They have never made a wheel that would roll in Middle Earth anyway so of course, we have to invent one. I believe that our King is creative and that if we would follow Him we must be creative as well. That's why formulas and systems do not work in the Kingdom.
I have two daughters. I used to say that one would not color in the lines and the other would not color if there were lines. I was very proud of that. My girls are Luthien (15 almost 16) and Goldilocks (14 going on 24). They are in boarding school out in the east. A couple of years ago when they were still here they decided to do a play. We didn't have time to help them so they did it themselves. They wanted to do a humorus version of Snow White. They couldn't find a script that they liked so Goldilocks wrote one. Luthien helped, mostly to ensure that her leading role as the wicked witch had plenty of juicy lines. They got their friends together and pulled it off. We thought it was great. If they had done someone else's material we would have weighed and measured it. I believe that because the whole project was uniquely theirs that we enjoyed it much more. We could relax and enjoy something uniquely them without having to compare their performance to anyone else.
I think that Kingdom work is like that. The King has something unique for us to do and has enabled our team to do it in a unique way. We must listen to Him alone. No one else can be our guide because no one else has been where we are going. It's like the walls of Jericho. Joshua received excellent instruction as to how to take them down and then they carried out the instructions flawlessly. The next chapter is the most amazing chapter in the Bible for most modern Western Christians. They didn't do it again- ever. Most guys I know would have been circling and hollering around every city in Palestine but not these guys. They did it once and moved on. Wow.
I believe we must seek a relationship with the King that enables us to hear Him and obey Him for each day, each challenge, each situation and then move on. We have got to be creative and do new things, crazy things, things that take faith. Then we will be pleasing to Him. Then we too, will take the land. Anything else is just walking in circles.

Friday, November 03, 2006

The Fear Factor

Sam is from a village in the southwest corner of Gondor, not far from Anfalas. He was doing his two year military service when the civil war broke out back in 1992. He and many in his unit tried to get home. As he went through one roadblock and on to the next most of his friends were executed. He was spared. They kept asking him, 'Are you an Islamist or a Communist?' He kept replying, 'I am Sam!' They said, 'We will shoot you.' He said, 'Go ahead, but I am Sam.' A local officer recognized him and let him return to his family. He got married. An old friend of his from Minas Tirith came down to visit him and shared with him his new faith in Christ. Sam embraced Jesus readily and served him eagerly. He became part of a famous international ministry and showed the Jesus film in countless villages across Gondor. He started a church in his hometown and had many disciples. He passed out Bibles by the cases and cases. Every time his organization had someone come into Gondor the leader took them to see Sam. His leader was a driven visionary who pushed people hard to go into every corner of Gondor with the Gospel. After seven years Sam began to get tired. He was working seven days a week from sun-up until 7pm. His leader said, 'You need to work harder. We need more results.' Sam said that he had a wife and three children and couldn't work anymore. The leader told him he should be working until ten or twelve at night. People are dying without Christ they had to work harder.
Things began to get difficult. His leader promised him more literature and Sam would plan to go to a village but then the literature would be days late. He would promise to come and lead a meeting and would not show up. He began to spread rumors in Sam's own church that Sam was doing wrong. Sam told me that each time one of these things would happen he would say, 'Ok, he isn't perfect but I don't serve him. I serve God and I am not quitting.' Many things continued to go wrong. The church broke down from all the outside interference. But Sam would not quit. One day Sam came to Minas Tirith for a meeting. As he entered the room he realized that every one there was afraid of their leader. No one was serving out of love for Christ. Everyone was serving out of fear of the leader. This is not God's Kingdom. Sam left the organization.
I praise God for Sam. He is a great man of faith. I am privilidged to work with him. I am priviledged to learn from him. As I stated before on this blog most of Sam's work in the villages was ineffective and we have learned together to do better. But the lesson I learn from Sam is about fear. All fear is of the evil one. Sam would not budge from serving the King- not an inch. But he recognized that if your organizational ethos is fear then it is not of God.
As I contemplate this I am amazed at how many of my actions, beliefs, and practices have been based on fear. Are you a charismatic who speaks in tongues? No? Why not? Because you don't believe that this is what the scripture teaches or because you are afraid of what others will say? You don't drink? Same questions. What about sharing your faith in Christ with a friend? Do you hesitate because you are unsure of the best way to approach it or are you afraid of.... what? Fear is of the evil one. When you are discussing these and any other issues then you have to ask what is my motive in any of these decisions? If your motivation is fear you have made the wrong decision. Period.
Erwin McManus says we serve what we fear. This is why we are to fear God. We must fear God alone because to fear anything else is to give in to that thing and serve it instead of God. That friends, is called idolatry. Sam decided to serve the King alone. I stand with Sam. Can you?