The Original 12 Strong
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 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. 13 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. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 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, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.
True stories of war have always been a filmmaker's bread and butter. We're drawn to moments on the big screen which represent the country at its best, but some of the most powerful films share the untold tales of people coming together after going through the worst.
As the United States was swept up into a new era of global tension following the events of September 11, 2001, the war on terror became the nation's focus. In the months that followed, the entire world was captivated by the events of the war in the Middle East. But there was one recently declassified mission whose story has now been told.
Directly after 9/11, a small group of U.S. Air Force combat soldiers and members of the United States Special Forces became the first to invade Afghanistan. Without readily available manpower and resources, the group teamed up with the Northern Alliance fighters and General Abdul Rashid Dostum of Afghanistan as they all had a common enemy: the Taliban and Al-Queda forces.
The mission, code named Task Force Daggers, was led by Green Beret Captain Mitch Nelson. It proved to be more challenging than they first thought.
The group was not only greatly outnumbered and outgunned, they had trouble with the mountainous terrain. Unfamiliar soil and lack of transportation options led to one plausible solution to traverse the mountains: horses. The soldiers relied heavily on horses to drive their fight against their enemy. Their harrowing fight, powered by these specific tactics gave them a nickname – The Horse Soldiers.
The brave actions of soldiers are regularly recounted in TV and film projects but what these men went through was unique. Sent to Afghanistan immediately after the terror attacks, they hardly had time to prepare for the danger they were being thrown into. General belief was that the conflict would be brief; however that seems absurd in retrospect. Fighting on horseback while your enemy has tanks is not an ideal scenario for even the best trained group of Special Forces.
Additionally, the bond between the soldiers and local Northern Alliance fighters was instrumental in taking the upper hand in the area.
Now, as this story has been declassified, the world will finally see the story of these heroic fighters who fired the first shots. These men put their lives on the line to overthrow a force with great tactical advantages, with no idea whether or not they would ever make it home.
The description of these heroic men cause me to recount the “12 Strong” that are spoken of in the bible. The 12 Apostles were a group of men, all from different backgrounds, that came together as a band of brothers for the cause of Christ. A mission that is embedded with harsh reality and adverse situations that cause each of them to lean on one another for the common goal of sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ.
It would be easy to overlook these men as a fairy tale tribe that followed a man who some would call fictional. You could do the very same of the horse soldiers, as their fight against all odds seemed to be impossible. But, I believe it should remain as a matter of faith and fact that Jesus Christ is the living God, His group of 12 Strong, did pursue the gospel with ferocity and the horse soldiers were a group of men who fearlessly served this great country.
You cannot help but notice the background story of the 12 Apostles. These men bound by the blood of Christ, from all walks of life, served our “Commander and Chief” with a common goal of spreading the good news to all who would listen.
A fishermen, a tax collector, a zealot, a thief, etc. This is a unique group of misfits whose lives were transformed by their desire to follow Christ. As we look at these courageous 1st century men, knowing what discipleship meant in the time of Jesus, we must be encouraged to do our part in developing a Spirit directed 21st century discipleship as Christ meant it to be.
Would you be so courageous as to step out on a battlefield with ALL odds against you for the pursuit of the better good, for your country, for the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
I believe we are often just like these Horse Soldiers in our approach to our daily walk with Christ. We often go into battle with our flip flops and shorts on, only to be defeated before our feet even hit the ground. We don't see a battlefield like the sandy terrain of Afghanistan, we see sandy beaches awaiting us in our disillusioned view of the Gospel pursuit. We are in a WAR, with an ENEMY who HATES us! Why would we even consider the approach of no armor while going into battle? Why do we think we can often do it on our own?
This band of brothers, the original 12 Strong, knew that they couldn't go to war individually or collectively without the discipleship of Jesus Christ. They knew that without proper training in how to wear this armor of victory, that they would place every piece on wrong. Without each intricate detail, every lace tied, every strap secured, you are opening yourself up to a detrimental failure that can result in death.
It is the challenge of Jesus Christ that we are to be trained as warriors, to train warriors, to then go into battle as Warriors of Christ. Victorious because the devil has been defeated. This is what discipleship looks like.
In the days to come, I would challenge you to reevaluate your armor. Make sure that you are battle ready. Make sure that if you are missing even the smallest piece that you would call out in need of a repair. That as we battle together, that we would all rally around that need and address it as God would see fit.
You see, we are just like these heroic 12 Strong. We, just like these Apostles and our US Military Forces, have landed in a war where most would think we've already lost. But just as Captain Nelson was confident with his men, we too can remain confident as we are already VICTORIOUS in Christ. Death has been defeated and by our faith in Christ, we are an unstoppable force.
Romans 5:1-5 says it best:
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
It is without a doubt, that only by faith we can be saved. In a fight that we cannot win by ourselves, surrender your life to Christ. Sign up for the Army of God and know that by your decision to follow Christ, in all things you are VICTORIOUS.