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?