This Means War

This morning as I sit in my chair, my heart is heavy. Here in the Mitten (Michigan) two Bible camps have suffered tragedies this week. At one, a propane tank exploded and the camp manager now has burns over 90% of his body. He is in critical condition at the U of M burn clinic, undergoing surgery upon surgery. At the other camp, an intern drowned on Tuesday. Unbelievable.

Life has irrevocably changed for those involved


In spiritual circles, we occasionally bandy about the idea of spiritual warfare. But we often use it in the context of deepest, darkest Africa involving demons and witch craft. Which it definitely is. We don’t nearly as often use the term to describe any happenings here in North America.

But, whenever we are engaging in God’s work…the work of redemption of souls…we are engaging in spiritual warfare.

At Bible camp. At discipleship programs. Doing door to door evangelism. Holding vacation Bible schools. Gospel meetings. Community outreach. Here at home or on the mission field, a battle for souls is being fought.

And whenever there is battle, there are casualties. And while we occasionally talk about spiritual warfare, we rarely ever talk about the casualties.


According to Webster’s dictionary a casualty is a military person lost through death, wounds, injury, sickness, internment, or capture or through being missing in action.

A casualty is a person who is no longer able to fight; they are removed from the battle, because of injury, sickness, capture or death.


Think about that in terms of spiritual warfare.

Casualties come in all shapes and sizes. A casualty is whenever anyone is removed from the fight, for whatever reason.

Casualties may look like…

  • A missionary coming home from the field because of health reasons.
  • A missionary coming home from the field because of discouragement.
  • A missionary coming home from the field because of interpersonal conflict.
  • A Bible camp manager is no longer at camp sharing the gospel through word and/or action because of a freak accident.
  • A Bible camp intern who tragically drowned.
  • A person leaving the local church gathering because of spiritual abuse.
  • A person leaving the local church gathering because of different preferences in church practice.
  • A cancer diagnosis in the 5 year old daughter of a woman who leads a discipleship program.
  • An ineffective life and testimony because we are in the world, and haven’t lived the idea of “not of it”
  • Men and women defeated by sexual sin. Personal battles lost.
  • When the word of God gets choked out or withers in a person’s life because of the pursuit of money and power, or because of hard things, suffering, trials. (Matthew 13)

The examples are endless. The casualties are overwhelmingly many.

Yet, in the the face of this fact, do we despair, or do we fight?

Ephesians 6:10-18

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.  In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints.

Having done all, stand firm

We don’t despair. We stand.

We put on our armor. The Lord is our salvation.

We stay alert. We persevere.

We use our weapons-prayer and the word of God.


When I think of spiritual warfare and prayer, I inevitably think back to Jesus Christ in the garden. Surrendering to God’s will, as He prays. Sweating blood as He prayed. This is intense. We can flit through our prayer time, lightly hitting on our needs. Instead we must do battle in our prayer time. For the sake of souls, and those in the war.

Word of God

What a resource! As we read the Psalms, we are inundated with promises and prayers and testimonies to the character and faithfulness and greatness of our God. As we read the historical books, we are reminded of how our almighty God worked on the behalf of His people. As we read the prophets, we are reminded of the ultimate plan and purposes of God. Scripture encourages us, and heals our wounds. It gives us renewed strength for the battle.

It reminds us that despite the casualties, there is a bigger picture. All is not lost. We know the end of the story. Sin is defeated. Death has lost its sting. The grave doesn’t have the victory.

Jesus Christ does.

The intern is also no longer in this battle. He is in the presence of the Lord. (praise the Lord!) His battle is fought. He is done. He has heard, “well done, thou good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of thy Lord.”

The Lord is my salvation

The grace of God has reached for me
And pulled me from the raging sea
And I am safe on this solid ground
The Lord is my salvation

I will not fear when darkness falls
His strength will help me scale these walls
I’ll see the dawn of the rising sun
The Lord is my salvation

Who is like the Lord our God?
Strong to save, faithful in love
My debt is paid and the vict’ry won
The Lord is my salvation

My hope is hidden in the Lord
He flow’rs each promise of His Word
When winter fades I know spring will come
The Lord is my salvation

In times of waiting, times of need
When I know loss, when I am weak
I know His grace will renew these days
The Lord is my salvation

Who is like the Lord our God?
Strong to save, faithful in love
My debt is paid and the vict’ry won
The Lord is my salvation

And when I reach my final day
He will not leave me in the grave
But I will rise,
He will call me home
The Lord is my salvation

Glory be to God the Father
Glory be to God the Son
Glory be to God the Spirit
The Lord is our salvation

-Keith & Kristin Getty

There will always be casualties in war. But, we know the victory is won! The Lord is our salvation!

Bernadette Veenstra
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