"Perhaps that’s the greatest reason why He calls us to dangerous places: so that we will know His astonishing, sacrificial, life-restoring love.”
Why God Calls Us to Dangerous Places is about what is lost and what is gained when we follow God at any cost.
Soon after 9/11, Kate McCord left the corporate world and followed God to Afghanistan—sometimes into the reach of death. Alive but not unscathed, she has suffered the loss of many things: comfort, safety, even dear friends and fellow sojourners.
But Kate realizes that those who go are not the only ones who suffer. Those who love those who go also suffer. This book is for them, too.
Weaving together Scripture, her story, and stories of both those who go and those who send, Kate considers why God calls us to dangerous places and what it means for all involved.
It means dependence. It means loss. It means a firmer hold on hope. It can mean death, trauma, and heavy sorrow. But it can also mean joy unimaginable. Through suffering, we come closer to the heart of God.
Written with the weight of glory in the shadow of loss, Why God Calls Us to Dangerous Places will inspire Christians to count the cost—and pay it.
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About the Author
KATE MCCORD is not her real name. To protect her, and the women she talked to, all of the names in the book have been changed-including Kate's. At the panicle of a high-powered career, Kate left it all, sold everything and went to Afghanistan to start an NGO with the goal to help Afghani women. She taught herself the local language and served there for over five years. Now she wants you to know the Afghan women she has come to love.
Read an Excerpt
Why God Calls Us to Dangerous Places
By KATE MCCORD, Cheryl Molin
Moody PublishersCopyright © 2015 Kate McCord
All rights reserved.
"Our very question invites God to reveal His heart to us."
Early on a morning in August 2010,1 carried a cup of hot coffee and my laptop onto my friend's screened porch. I'd only been back in the States for a couple of weeks and still bore the deep exhaustion of my previous season in Afghanistan.
I set my coffee and laptop onto the table and breathed my thanks to God: for the porch, the screens that kept it bug free, the cool air, and the dense trees that filtered the morning light. I thought of my friend who was still sleeping upstairs and silently thanked her for welcoming me, once again, into her quiet, peaceful home.
I sat down on a wooden Adirondack chair, sipped my coffee, and logged onto my computer. My computer, such a faithful companion — a battered Toshiba laptop still laced in Afghan dust. It booted slowly and so I sipped my coffee, breathed the morning air, and watched the blessedly dust-free leaves float in the gentle breeze.
Quiet. Peaceful. America.
Still, my body was only slowly uncoiling from the tight, chronic stress of life in a war zone.
The previous year in Afghanistan had been both joyous and exhausting. In the summer of 2009, while I was in the midst of preparing to receive a team of young adults who were exploring overseas work, the Afghan secret police informed me of a specific kidnapping threat. They were sure I was the target. I packed my evacuation bag in a chaotic rush, my insides numb with shock and confusion. The next day, the police discovered that I had not been the target after all, so I returned to my Afghan home.
I continued plans to welcome the team while more threats surfaced. Finally, at around 4:30 in the afternoon, just a few days before the team was meant to arrive, an explosion rocked my house. The concussion struck my ribs with the force of a flat board swung by a strong man. I gasped, caught the wall and my breath, and realized what I had to do.
The team was already on its way, so I traveled to Dubai to meet and tell them, "I'm so sorry. But it's just too dangerous right now for you to come." Confused and disappointed, the team, four young adults, spent a couple of weeks in Dubai and then made their way to Jordan while I returned to my Afghan home.
A month later, I prepared to leave the country for a break. Once again, I faced a kidnapping threat. This time it wasn't specific, but was instead associated with the road I needed to travel.
How does one pack for a possible kidnapping? I spent hours deciding, un-deciding, re-deciding. Really. How does one pack for a possible kidnapping? Late in the afternoon I gave up, zipped my bag closed, and resigned myself to whatever would happen to me the next day.
That evening, I found a large piece of white board, took out my markers and colored pencils, and went to work. I covered the sheet with pencil-drawn faces, eyes looking straight at me, some full of fear, some resolve. Then, with Magic Marker, I began writing the names of God, first in the backward looping characters of the Dari alphabet, then in the boxier characters of my own English. Khuda Qaderi Mutlack, all-powerful God, Master of the universe, Lover of my soul. I wrote until there was no more space, and, in the writing, began to find peace.
When I finished the board, I wrapped my knees in my arms and started to sing. Over the course of the next several hours, I sang every worship song I knew.
That night, I slept easily and gently. At six o'clock in the morning, I pulled a blue burqa over my head, slipped into Afghan sandals, and sat down in the back seat of an old Russian taxi. In the front, a gray-bearded Pashtun man gave me instructions. "Keep your face covered. Don't let your hands show. When they stop us, look away. Don't let them see your blue eyes through the screen."
Next to him sat a middle-aged, bearded Hazara man with a small gray turban. "I will tell them you are my wife. There will be many checkpoints. Some will be illegal. Just don't move and please, please, don't say anything."
I sat in the backseat, watching the world through the screen of my burqa. I prayed, sang songs inside my heart, recalled Scriptures, and watched. I had no idea what would happen, and yet I was oddly at peace.
We did stop at checkpoint after checkpoint. At one, men with Kalashnikovs (military assault weapons), some in uniform, some not, questioned us closely. I knew the consequences of being found out; my driver and chaperone would likely be killed, and I would be taken to God knows where. I kept my eyes averted and my heart focused on Jesus. It took us three hours to cross over to safety.
That experience and so many others took their toll.
In the spring of 2010,1 planned yet another out-of-country trip. I needed to see a doctor for a test that could not be performed in Afghanistan. I bought a ticket for Wednesday, May 18, 2010, on Pamir Airways.
On Tuesday afternoon, May 17, I packed a small suitcase and made arrangements to travel to the airport the following morning. Just as I finished packing, I received a startling phone call. It began with a gasp. "Thank God." Then followed in a rush of words, "I knew you were going. I couldn't remember what day. Did you hear?"
The story that followed took my breath away. The morning flight, one day before the one I was meant to take, never reached its destination. Instead, the plane crashed into the Salang, the mountains in the middle of Afghanistan. All the passengers and crew were killed.
I missed death by a day, just one day.
I never did make that medical appointment.
* * *
The challenges of that season in Afghanistan weren't over. In late May 2010, Afghan television showed a cellphone film of a group of Afghan men praying, worshiping, and being baptized as Christians. Riots swept through the streets of my small town. Once again, I packed my evacuation bag, this time to the staccato rhythm of automatic gunfire and the sounds of men yelling beyond the walls.
I spent the day dressed and ready to go, my scarf around my head and my sandals on my feet. By evening, the rioters had disbanded and an uneasy calm settled over the city. The next day, Friday, the day of afternoon prayers, I took my evacuation bag and sought refuge in a nearby foreign military base.
I was grateful when the mullahs called for calm and our town returned to normal. By evening, I was once again back in my Afghan home.
These things take their toll.
Sometime in early July, a neighbor called me to his house. I drank tea with him and his wife and children. We talked about floods and orchards and crops and I wondered why he had requested my presence. Eventually, he got to his point.
Men, outsiders, perhaps from Kabul, had come to our neighborhood mosque. They had a simple request: throw rockets at the foreign woman.
I kept my calm. "What did the men in the mosque decide?"
"They decided they will watch you."
So they did. They talked to my staff, the beneficiaries of my projects, my neighbors, and the shopkeepers on the corners. And they watched me. Men stood in groups and watched me walk out of my house. They watched the gates I disappeared through and waited for me to return. They talked among themselves: assessing, evaluating, deciding.
The stress takes its toll.
Finally, at the end of July 2010, I packed my things and returned to America. I desperately needed a break. I needed peace. I needed to breathe. That morning I sat with my morning coffee and laptop on my friend s screened-in porch and watched the leaves gently float in the morning breeze. When my laptop booted, I clicked onto email.
I think I stopped breathing. I know my limbs went cold. I read all the message headers at the same time. I couldn't move. I saw names of senders: coworkers and friends from my town in Afghanistan, friends from Kabul, others who normally lived in Afghanistan but were now in England, Canada, or Seattle. I saw their names and felt a wail rise up from within the pit of my stomach. And yet, I had no breath. My cry was trapped — cold, hard, and fierce.
I began clicking on the messages and slowly the story took shape. A team of foreign medical workers had been executed in the mountains of northern Afghanistan.
My mind spun. Faces of friends floated into focus, and yet I didn't know who was on that team. I searched the Internet for names, but the release of information was slow. I returned to the emails and pieced the stories together. I recognized one and then another and then another member of that team.
I don't remember what happened after that. The next few days are lost to me. I do remember that at some point that morning my friend, whose house I was staying in, awakened. She walked out onto the porch, took one look at me, and began to cry. I don't know what she saw in my face, but it was enough to tell her that something had gone terribly wrong.
I remember trying to explain what little I knew and at the same time wishing for all the world that we were not having this conversation on her cool, peaceful porch. I knew that once again I had brought violence and loss into the life of someone whose heart went to Afghanistan because it went with me.
I wanted to protect her, to shield her from the loss and the pain and the fear. I wanted her to be like other Americans for whom Afghanistan is just a news report. But it was too late. She'd already seen the pictures of my Afghan friends. She'd heard their voices on audio files I'd recorded. And more than anything else, she'd listened to my stories. She'd heard my voice and seen my eyes when I talked about people I had come to know and love so deeply.
For my friend, Afghanistan was and will always be a place full of precious and beautiful human beings and also a place of devastating violence. Although she never stepped down from a plane at Kabul airport, she, like the friends and families of all of us who go to a dangerous place, had certainly been there. The losses I experienced, she experienced with me.
So on that August morning, my friend sat down on an Adirondack chair in a tree-enclosed porch in the middle of America and wept for a group of fragile human beings who had been brutally executed in the mountains of Afghanistan, and for their friends and families who would never be the same.
Since that August day, other aid workers have been killed or kidnapped in Afghanistan. The names and stories of some have been posted on the Internet. Most, especially those who were kidnapped, held hostage, and later freed will remain forever nameless except to those who know and love them.
None of us will ever be the same. The trauma many of us have experienced is real. It's shaped us, marked, and transformed us.
We ask our question from the experiences of living in places of chronic stress, sporadic trauma, and brutal martyrdom. Both we who go, and those who love those who go, face the deep evil in the world and turn to God with all our human fragility. We ask the question: why does God call us to dangerous places?
Our very question invites God to reveal His heart to us.
As I write these words, I'm remembering a European husband and father who spent a month chained to an Afghan man. Hostages. I'm thinking about his wife and children who spent that same month trying to breathe. I know of a father who buried his daughter in the Afghan dust and who somehow found the grace to forgive those who had taken her from him. I think of a woman who remembers her martyred friends every time she eats pancakes because that was something they'd done together.
I'm writing, also, for the mothers and fathers who wake up in the morning and check the news just to make sure their children are still alive; and grandmothers who swallow their fear, Skype with their grandchildren, and ache to have them home.
I'm writing for the workers who come home shattered, lost, and confused; and the friends, families, and church communities who struggle to receive them.
My question isn't limited to Afghanistan, but encompasses all the dangerous places — places where people go because Christ calls them to do so.
A young mother loses her husband to dengue fever in southeast Asia. A family is plucked from a roof in Chad. Another family is lost in Yemen. The children turn up, but the parents are never found. A college student with a heart for inner-city ministry is brutally assaulted and killed. Black leather–coated men enter a house in Central Asia and carry a husband away. Days later he's returned, but neither he nor his wife will ever be the same.
That's the thing; were never the same. We go to dangerous places with Jesus, and were never the same.
Somewhere along the journey, we each look into the face of darkness and ask a frightening question: why does God call His beloved children to such a dangerous place?
It's a fair question, necessary, personal. And we're not the first to ask it.
Before us, generations of Christian evangelists, doctors, teachers, and aid workers followed Christ to Japan, Ghana, Fiji, Palestine, and a host of other dangerous locations. They faced disease, hunger, war, and even cannibalism and crucifixion. Some died, some were killed, and some returned home, their mental and physical health broken.
Nor are any of us giants. We are not Christian Navy SEALs, the toughest, most committed, most hard-core followers of Christ. Instead, we are completely human.
We are idealistic young men and women hoping to bring light and love into the world. We are occupational therapists who teach local mothers how to help their children afflicted with cerebral palsy. We are art therapists who help Serbian children make sense of the war they've experienced. We are seasoned aid workers feeding the hungry in Syrian refugee camps. We are retirees who have raised our children and answered the call to train medical personnel in West Africa.
We are doctors and lawyers, dancers and writers, project managers, technologists, and linguists. We are flesh and blood. Fragile. Hopeful, sometimes frightened, always human.
And those who send us are just like us: sisters, brothers, mothers, fathers, friends, grandparents. Some of us go to church and raise our hands. Some of us sing the liturgy and kneel before the Communion rail. We read NIV Bibles, KJV, NASB, ESV, and any of a dozen other translations. We attend denominational churches, house churches, and independent churches.
We are wealthy and poor, white, Asian, African American, Hispanic. We are married and single, men and women, old and young.
The thing we all hold in common is that we love Jesus and we've walked with Him into a dangerous place.
For some of us the journey has been shattering. It's important to say that. It's important to recognize that when we talk about walking with Christ into a dangerous place, we're talking about pain, fear, and loss. We're talking about stress, trauma, secondary trauma, and posttraumatic stress. Yet we go and count it a privilege to do so.
In our experience, we face squarely and honestly what it means to follow Christ into a world that does not know Him. As we do so, we find answers that move beyond romance and excitement. We find purpose, comfort, and the peace that Christ offers us — a peace beyond even the most horrific circumstances. We find the heart of God.
As I write, my shoulders are tense and my breath shallow, and yet I sense holiness. There's something sacred in the journey — something sacred for all of us. Something none of us would trade for anything in the world.
In the fall of 2012,1 took a train from Germany into Holland. I had made arrangements to visit dear friends from Afghanistan. For the sake of sharing the story, I'll change their names.
Excerpted from Why God Calls Us to Dangerous Places by KATE MCCORD, Cheryl Molin. Copyright © 2015 Kate McCord. Excerpted by permission of Moody Publishers.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: The Question
Chapter 2: My Story
Chapter 3: How Deep the Father’s Love
Chapter 4: God Came First
Chapter 5: God Wants to Fill His Table
Chapter 6: They Have to Hear, See, Touch
Chapter 7: Following His Call
Chapter 8: Sending Our Friends and Families
Chapter 9: How Can We Send Our People?
Chapter 10: What Does God Call Us to Do?
Chapter 11: It’s All of Him
Chapter 12: Knowing Christ with Us
Final Thoughts: Deeply Grateful
What People are Saying About This
Once again Kate McCord shares a compelling vision of life and ministry on the front lines of human needs. By the time you are done reading, you will be reminded of both the triumph and joy of doing God's will, no matter the danger, risk, or cost. If you're not careful, you just might be inspired to pack your bags and go yourself - or join in sending someone else ready to go for Him! - Peggy Fletcher, Cofounder, Pioneers
God risked in order to communicate His love. Kate McCord believes we can emulate that compassion by imitating Jesus. May this book challenge us all to obey Him no matter where He calls us. - Chris Fabry, Author, radio host
The remaining harvest in God's kingdom is in the hard and dangerous places. God's love compels us to go despite our fears of safety and security. This book offers no gilded promises for those who answer the call, only the remarkable reality of God's presence and power as they minister faithfully in the darkest corners of this earth. It is a must-read for anyone feeling the Spirit-led tug on their heart. Read, take courage, and then go. - Paul Nyquist, PhD, President, Moody Bible Institute
The world has become increasingly more difficult and dangerous for those called to share the love and light of Jesus Christ. Kate captures the essence of the challenges facing highly motivated men and women who leave behind material comfort, family, and relational roots to love and heal in Jesus' name. She draws out and helps us understand the deep and abiding love of Jesus and His message of salvation, which motivates and sustains those called to dangerous places. - Rick Allen, CEO, MedSend
When it comes to fulfilling the Great Commission of Jesus in our day, the most underserved people on earth reside in very dangerous places. Someone has to have the courage to go there - and Kate McCord is one who did. This book is an amazing firsthand account of one woman who dared to to Afghanistan and be His light in that darkness. Kate declares, "We go to dangerous places with Jesus and we're never the same." - Hans Finzel, President of HDLeaders and bestselling author of The Top Ten Mistakes Leaders Make and Change Is Like a Slinky
I strongly recommend this outstanding book. It delicately balances the inevitable high price of taking up our cross daily and following Jesus - wherever He sends us - with the inestimable privileges and eternal rewards of following the most magnificent master in the universe. King Jesus. The lover of our souls. - Joy Dawson, Youth With A Mission (YWAM)
Here is a refreshing, yet sober look, at dangerous assignments. McCord, a missionary serving for nearly a decade in Afghanistan, speaks from experience as a frontline veteran. During her years in that worn-torn country she has experienced every imaginable danger along with heartbreaking martyrdom of close colleagues. She builds her case for why God calls some to dangerous assignments not on armchair theory but experience laced with biblical reflections. - Marvin J. Newell, Senior vice president, Missio Nexus, author of A Martyr's Grace
Kate McCord's talk is born of a faithful walk. She makes a compelling case for followers of Christ entering places of danger with abandon. She offers comfort for those who send and courage for those who go. Her understanding is no dry and dusty theological system divorced from life. This book will distrub, enlighten, and inspire you to follow Christ wherever He leads. - Charles W. Beckett, Senior minister, Woodlawn Christian Church, Knoxville TN and father of Cheryl, a 21st-cnetury martyr
One of the biggest lies embraced by the Western church is God loves us so much He would never ask us to do anything difficult, certainly not dangerous. In this richly illustrated and biblically based book, written out of the overflow of life experience, Kate McCord calls us back to a God-centered theology of risk and suffering. It is a much needed and timely message. I highly commend it to you.- Steve Moore, Executive director, nexleader, a next generation initiative of ABHE
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
"Why God Calls us to Dangerous Places" by Kate McCord is a powerful story about her life as a humanitarian aid worker. She is very candid in her description of her experiences in Afghanistan. She also describes what the other workers endured, but changes their names for safety reasons. Kate included questions at the end of each chapter for discussion purposes. She also suggested scriptures to study to better understand God's call. I enjoyed this book because it helped me, who has no background knowledge in this subject matter, to better understand the depth of God's love for His creation. Before reading this, I could only picture my church, neighbors, and community, but this book stretched me. It reminded me that God can and will take us out of our comfortable lifestyles and send us out to compel others to come to Christ, the bread of life. I love this quote from her book: "Why does God Call us to Dangerous Places? Because He loves people who live in dangerous places." The above quote speaks volumes! There is no greater love anywhere! I gave this book a 5 out of 5. I loved that the author revealed her humanity. She feared. She worried. But Christ was right there through it all. Disclaimer: *I received a free copy of this book from Moody Publishers in exchange for an honest review.