“Are you ready to die for Jesus?”

07/31/2020 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern)When Tom Doyle and his wife relocated to the Middle East as missionaries, they didn’t have all of the answers. But they had a clear calling from the Lord, and trusted Him to equip them for the road ahead.

In one of the world’s most volatile regions, they quickly encountered opposition to their evangelism efforts. Almost immediately, Tom was confronted with a question: “Are you ready to die for Jesus?”

To listen to Tom’s full story, click here.

Transcript:

Recently, I sat down with Tom Doyle for a podcast interview. A couple of weeks ago I shared a piece of that, and I wanted to kind of give you another snippet of the podcast. Tom is a great guy. I love Tom because we kind of have a similar background. We both got pulled out of doing something completely different from a clear calling from God.

You know, Tom was a pastor, and he does a sermon one day, and at the end of that sermon, he sits down and God says to him very clearly, He says, “That’s the last sermon you’re ever going to preach.” And he’s immediately called to the Middle East, and he packs up his life. He and his wife, Joanne, they pack up their life and they head to the Middle East into the Gaza Strip.

He’s in the Gaza Strip. His very first mission trip you’d call it, he goes out, and the guy who’s taking him out says, “We’ve got to be prepared to die today. This is going to be dangerous.” All of this was, by the way, right after 9/11. So, that’s the guy you’re dealing with. I think you’re going to enjoy this a lot.

So go take a look at the actual podcast, if you enjoy it, after you’re done. God bless you.

Jeff King:

You had a calling. You guys had a calling. There’s a reason you picked up and left and dropped in on your parachute with absolutely no experience, nothing, just out of obedience. What happened? You were pastoring. What was the transition?

Tom Doyle:

Yeah, we were in a great church in the Colorado Springs area. Loved it. Gosh, just some of the leaders in the Colorado Springs community, we used to teasingly say it was Christian Mecca there. Compassion, Focus on the Family, International Bible Navigators, they’re all there. A lot of the leaders went to our church.

Tom Doyle:

But it was the first Sunday in June of 2001, and preached a sermon, sat down. The group is doing some worship, some final things. And I saw something go across my mind’s eye. I saw it clearly. And it was this: “This is your last sermon at Tri Lakes Chapel. This is your last sermon.”

Tom Doyle:

I thought, “What in the world does that mean?” We had a great church. Things were going well. Churches are never perfect, it’s never easy, but great things going on. We’d just had a baptism on Easter with 80 people being baptized. We were just thinking, “God is moving,” and He calls us away, and I thought, “Am I imagining that? What does that mean?”

Tom Doyle:

So, immediately after that, Jeff, I run and I find Joanna and I said, “I had an experience, and I’m not used to having experiences like this, but here’s what happened.” And I told her. And she said, “So, do you believe that’s from God?” And I said, “Yeah, I do.” And I’m shocked. She goes, “Well, if He’s calling us away, where do you think He’s sending us?” And I said, “I think Israel and the Middle East.” And she said, “And what do you think He’s calling us to do?” And I said, “Missionaries.” And she said, “Do you know over the last few months, He’s been speaking to me and I knew this was coming? But I know that if it was from God, since we’re one together in marriage and in Christ, we’re both going to get it. It’s not one gets the call and the other drags their feet. I felt this was coming.”

Tom Doyle:

And so, the next day, we had a meeting with elders, wonderful guys, and I told them what was going on, and they asked us to just pray for three weeks, and we did. We prayed, and it was strong. We didn’t even know…

Tom Doyle:

I mean, people would ask us, Jeff, “What mission agency are you going with?” “We don’t know. We don’t know. We just know where we’re supposed to go and what we’re supposed to do.”

Jeff King:

Calling, yeah.

Tom Doyle:

And you know what? I just want to say to anybody that listens to this, you don’t have to worry about education or how God has prepared you. We’ve seen this, if you have a willing heart, He calls for ministry. When He calls you to He equips you for. And so, we learned as we went. We were voracious leaders. We were involved in the Muslim community, the Jewish community, learning, growing, and God did it. It had very little to do with us.

Jeff King:

Yeah. So, you get there, and I think … Was that same first trip when you went to Yasser Arafat Mosque?

Tom Doyle:

Yeah, we did.

Jeff King:

Talk about that.

Tom Doyle:

So, the first thing that happens is this Gaza woman says, “Please forgive us.” And I thought, “Oh, my gosh, Lord. Wow.” I mean, “I wish she could be on CNN. We need to hear that.”

Tom Doyle:

And then, I met a new friend, Hussain. And Hussain is a former Muslim. And he said, “Man, it’s Friday, Tom. Let’s go down to Yasser Arafat’s Mosque and share the Gospel.” And I said, “Okay.”

Jeff King:

I guess he knows what he’s doing.

Tom Doyle:

So, it begins. Here we go.

Tom Doyle:

And so, we go down, we’re in a little van, and as we’re driving down there, it is the Gaza Strip. I mean, it’s after 9/11. It’s insane there. We call it Planet Gaza. I’ve never been to a place like that, so cloistered and 11 terrorist groups and all that.

Tom Doyle:

So, we’re driving down the street. We see George Bush hanging, an effigy in flames, and Ariel Sharon, who was then the Prime Minister of Israel. And so, all of this is going on. You see marches and that.

Tom Doyle:

And we get to the mosque, and you know, people are fascinated with … There’s an American there, and we’re meeting them, and they were so friendly and nice, and we’re talking. But then, Hussain said this. He pulled me back and he whispered in my ear and he goes, “Hey, we could get beat up. Bad things could happen. We could probably get arrested for this, but man, I’m ready to go to jail for Jesus. And I think every Christian should be willing to be arrested at least once for sharing their faith, don’t you think?” And I thought, “Yeah, okay.”

Jeff King:

Okay, yes. Right answer.

Tom Doyle:

Yes. But it was going so well. And just, the Muslims were so open.

Tom Doyle:

But after that, after a while, a group showed up, Jeff, and they had the long beards, the skullcaps, the white dishdashas, and it became very accusatory, confronting. Group around us, I heard the word, “Infidel,” and there was anger.

Tom Doyle:

And Hussain pulled my ear back and said, “Hey, listen. This could go bad, Tom. It’s not going good. Did you notice that?” And I said, “I did pick that up.” These are the clerics and some of them are with radical terrorist groups. I recognize some of them.” He goes, “We could get hurt or we could be killed for our faith here, but I’m ready to die for Jesus. And I know you’re ready to die for Jesus. You’re a missionary. Right?”

Tom Doyle:

And I said, “Yes?”

Jeff King:

Right answer.

Tom Doyle:

And I said, “Do you mean right now? Is that what you mean? Like right now?”

Jeff King:

Is this theoretical or are you talking about …

Tom Doyle:

That’s right. Right.

Tom Doyle:

And you know, a thought went through my mind, “What a short career.” Really, this is kind of day one on the job. And “He went, and he was killed, and he never came back.” I mean, those things are going through my head. But God intervened, defused the situation after about 30 minutes, and we left.

Tom Doyle:

You know, days later, a week later, I got on a plane and flew back. He stayed there. Hussain stayed there, going into the refugee camps, sharing the Gospel with Muslims, as a former Muslim in Gaza. You talk about risk.

Tom Doyle:

And I came back with a new hero, someone that was ready to suffer, ready to die, and I had to ask myself if that’s what it takes, am I ready to do that?

Jeff King:

Yeah, you know, people I think that are involved in ministry like we are, they can lift us up and, “Oh, my gosh! You’re so brave,” or whatever. And you’re like, “That dynamic is always there.” It’s like, “No, I get on a plane and I come back. Those guys stay there,” and what they go through is amazing, and creates Christians that are just at another level, really, so often.

Tom Doyle:

You know what? And just for people watching this today, listening, we hear this all the time speaking in churches, “Oh, you and Joanna are so brave.” And I say, “You ought to see me at the dentist.” I’m the biggest pansy. Or the doctor. I have White Coat Syndrome. My blood pressure goes up when the doc walks in the room. And we played football, I was the one piling on, the last guy on the dog pile.

Tom Doyle:

But God took away a fear, and that was essential. 

Jeff King:

Interesting.

Tom Doyle:

So, we’re not trying to be stupid. We’re not trying to be heroes or Indiana Jones, but we’re convinced that we needed to go to the least-reached and to the persecuted.

Tom Doyle:

And it is dangerous. There’s reasons they’re least-reached and they’re persecuted. And so, it is dangerous, but I can honestly say this, Jeff, and you wouldn’t be doing what you’re doing if you didn’t experience it. We have not felt fear in some of the worst situations.

Tom Doyle:

Bombings, rocket attacks in Gaza, smuggling Bibles into countries that were closed. You know, God has been there. It’s been all Him. It’s been all Him.

ICC is on a mission to help persecuted Christians. Will you join us?