Merry Christmas, Reader Friends! This is David Telbat. I need to whisper this time, so listen carefully . . . I recently attended COIL’s Secret Christmas Gathering in an undisclosed location in Eastern Europe. As you can imagine, it’s quite dangerous for COIL field agents to be gathered together in one place. And the meeting had to be secret because the enemies of God’s faithful are many.
COIL’s founder, Corban Dowler, invited me to the get-together. As COIL’s chief chronicler, I have the privilege of passing on to you these Christmas greetings from agents you know so well from the books I’ve written about them.
Greetings From Characters You Know
About Corban Dowler:
This sixty-something man, whose body has seen its share of injuries, especially this past year, couldn’t be more joyful in his expression of love for those of you who’ve been faithful prayer warriors for persecuted Christians. He asked me to send you this message:
“Wait with anticipation for our good Lord’s response to your petitions. Sometimes the best water for the soul comes when we pour out our lives for our Savior. Celebrate Him this Christmas!”
From Chloe Azmaveth:
We might expect Chloe to be in constant organizational mode, but in this informal setting, she was very relaxed, and seemed to prefer listening to speaking. When she laughed, a surge of joy permeated everyone in her presence. She was with Zvi, her husband, and together they sent this note:
“Where God touches lives through us, His servants, we find peace, even in the darkest places on earth. Thank you for supporting the family of God worldwide!”
From Memphis and June:
This pilot and legal consultant for COIL are proud parents to a two-year-old jabbering boy who looks a lot like Memphis. They’ve continued to serve in the Middle East where they reside, but came to the gathering to receive a shipment of Bibles that they’ll take back with them. June said for both of them,
“Wherever you are, whoever you are, whatever your gifts or skills—let Christ know you love Him by serving others with His compassion. Living the truth of the gospel has and will always impact your neighbors, whoever your neighbors may be.”
About Luigi Putelli:
There was also talk about Luigi, but when everyone compared notes, no one really had anything concrete to share about him. Some thought he’d died, others were sure they’d seen the dark-eyed spook sneaking around. I had nothing to add. I’m not sure Luigi would’ve made an appearance even if he was able. That’s just Luigi.
Anonymous Notes and Rumors
There were numerous others invited to this secret gathering, but Corban said many were too involved in field operations to come. Even several of those who did make it were only there to pass along intel, heal from injuries, or wait for their next deployment.
No one spoke of Nathan. He was still too much of a heartache for most. There was a note from Milk saying he was healing, doing much better, and missing everyone. Someone asked about a new tough guy, Titus, but no one had any solid news on him, not even Corban, who was the one who took Titus under his wing. They assumed he’d died in the field. At least we know Corban made sure he’d heard the gospel message.
I’d received three anonymous messages to share with the group.
One of the notes said:
“Tell your readers not to waste time. People need Jesus today. If they’re Christians, then they better be real about it. I’m a Christian now because the COIL Team was genuine. There’s no time for anything but being genuine for Jesus.”
Another agent wrote:
“Until Christ comes to gather us up, we must remain vigilant. And always be ready to sacrifice ourselves to give someone else a break they don’t deserve. That’s grace. That’s our mission. It ain’t easy, but when you’re called, you gotta go.”
And a third letter said:
“When life seems the most desperate, God is the most discernible, if we open our eyes to His faithful moving. I’ve been through much for Christ’s sake, and someday I may die for Him, but He’ll still be as faithful in His promises as the first day I came to Him.”
Final Thoughts on the Christmas Gathering
Seeing so many of our favorite characters in one place, I was reminded of the First Century Church, how Paul would travel abroad to deliver the gospel, oftentimes in harm’s way, then return to Antioch or Jerusalem to share all that God had done.
Like Paul, the men and women of COIL move through similar circumstances. But then we blink, and these servants of God are gone again, praying through crises, giving of themselves, delivering the Word of God, and loving even their enemies to faith in Jesus Christ.
This COIL Christmas gathering was a call to serve, more than anything. May we join the COIL family in the spirit of the season, and commit ever-more-fervently to sharing the gospel with the lost.
If you would like some ideas of where to serve, take a first step with Voice of the Martyrs.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, Reader Friends!
See you on the next page!
You might enjoy these past D.I. Telbat Christmas season stories:
COMING UP: Next time, we’ll have David’s last 2015 post, “God’s Intention for Government.”