Christian suspense and adventure novels like Dark Liaison and Dark Hearted of The COIL Series wouldn’t be the same without a glimpse into the mind of Corban Dowler, a major character in Author D.I. Telbat’s books. Join us as D.I. Telbat interviews and “visits” with COIL founder and ex-CIA spy, Corban Dowler.
D.I. Telbat Interviews Corban Dowler
David: Mr. Dowler, you’re a hard man to track down.
Corban: Call me Corban. Yeah, I’m not big on interviews.
David: Is that why the only way you’d meet with me again was if I flew out here to Al Jawf?
Corban: I get a lot of requests for interviews. It’s nothing personal, but I can’t fly home every time someone wants a sound bite.
David: I should’ve brought a GPS. Tell me where we are.
Corban: This is the Libyan Desert, the Eastern Sahara. The nomads out here move freely between Egypt, Sudan, Libya, and even Chad. Egypt’s border is about 130 miles that way, but nobody cares about borders out there. Imaginary lines.
David: Last time I spoke with you, we met in Italy. You were on some undisclosed assignment. Can you tell me what’s happening here?
Corban: These countries are torn apart by rebellion, internally mostly. The activists in the cities get all the press. They’re modernized. But out here, the life is still nomadic for many. They’re ignored by their own countries, but not by God. I’m building a report with them.
David: I understand you speak Arabic. Isn’t that a difficult language?
Corban: Many speak a Berber dialect, so it takes patience. Their patience more than mine. There’s a lot of time spent around desert campfires. They burn dry animal dung, by the way.
David: Are you making ground with the people?
Corban: Well, anytime a believer is sharing Christ’s love, ground is made, even if it’s flat rejected. Am I seeing interest in Christ? Not so much. It’s new to them. Like most people, nomads want an easier life now. Everyone wants a god in this world, instead of the God who created this world and can save them from it.
David: One might think your skills as a spy are being wasted out here.
Corban: Not much spying out here, but plenty of tact. The Janjaweed soldiers, rebels—they’re all around. I have to keep my eyes open.
David: There’s another book out about your COIL network. When my readers think of Corban Dowler, they might think of a man in a disguise, smuggling Christians out of danger zones. But you’re out here doing what seems like missionary work.
Corban: I don’t have to be at the COIL office for the network to continue functioning. COIL is its own animal now, without me. Men and women in many countries, exercise their faith in defiance of the darkness.
David: I see you have a sat-phone. For emergencies?
Corban: Yeah. Even out here, I have to check in with Chloe, my… I don’t know what to call her anymore. She runs COIL more than I do. Seems wrong to call her my assistant.
David: How do you feel about the spiritual condition of the world right now?
Corban: I’d like to be optimistic, like a lot of the reports from other Christians are. But I’m in the field. The world is becoming more calloused toward Christ, not less. Men, women, and children are still being saved, but persecution is more widespread. The Bible tells us to expect opposition in the Last Days. Even a falling away, which we see more of in churches in the West. There are many materialistic gods.
David: So you’re discouraged?
Corban: An active Christian doesn’t really have time to get discouraged. I might experience setbacks, need to search for God’s direction, but it’s just a moment to refocus, pray for strength and direction, and keep going. I’ve learned this from other Christians, godly men and women, in countries like China, Colombia, or Vietnam.
David: In the West, churches are growing larger and missionary support is shrinking. Any message for the people in the pews?
Corban: There’s something wrong with that picture.
David: Care to expound?
Corban: Let’s just say, one can tell a lot about a church by looking at their missionary budget.
David: Besides becoming a Christian, what is the most powerful experience in Christ you’ve had?
Corban: Just one? Well, there was one that you’ve already written about. I met some North Korean soldiers in Pyongyang. Toughest, rock-solid brutes you’d ever cross. But when I got them alone, I found out they were Christians. I drew Bible pictures on napkins and they knew the stories. I didn’t speak Korean, but we praised God together. That was a profound moment.
David: What’s another one?
Corban: I’ve already told you a lot of them.
David: Some of my readers like to hear these again. Not from me, but straight from you.
Corban: There was a guy named Luigi, a French operative, hired to kill me. Chased me off and on for a while. By the grace of God, I caught him in a little trap in Lebanon before he killed me. He was as ruthless as they come. A killer for sport, as much as for money. Very twisted mind. I forced him to dig his own grave out in the desert. He thought he was facing death, and it broke him. Then I welcomed him to accompany me on an operation to help others. It changed his life.
David: Whatever happened to Luigi?
Corban: He’s still out there. I hear rumors now and then.
David: And he lives for Christ?
Corban: Last I heard, he was entertaining the idea. If you ever interview him, that’s one story I’d like to hear.
David: A lot of new believers in America feel the passion to be active for Christ now, but they don’t know where to begin. What’s your advice?
Corban: There are established organizations out there, real fine ones that can give people support and structure. But COIL and other networks aren’t necessary. My advice is to pair up with another person, like a prayer partner, and seek a plan from God. You know what you’re supposed to do. Now go do it.
David: I find myself recruiting for COIL sometimes, but you don’t sound like you’re much of a recruiter.
Corban: COIL isn’t for everyone. We live on the edge, maybe over the edge. We’ve lost a lot of operatives to bitter regimes lately. Some of our people, we don’t know if they’re dead or alive in some dark prison cell. We know they were serving Christ, and still are, wherever they are. It takes a special kind of man or woman to undergo those conditions. The gospel means that much to them.
David: You mean to live and die in anonymity?
Corban: God knows who they are. It’s a life of sacrifice. Some give up everything to smuggle Bibles or pray with other Christians in hiding. But China or Saudi Arabia—they’re hardly the darkest corners of the world. When I go to Mecca, I’m filled with ideas of opportunity. But when I go to the suburbs of New York or Seattle, my spirit is oppressed.
David: From what?
Corban: People have what they want in their things. They’re not crying out, searching for something beyond their world.
David: Let’s talk trade-craft. Give us some undercover Christian network ideas.
Corban: For Christians in America?
David: Yeah, for Suburban Sam who wants to step out for Christ overseas.
Corban: A Christian network can be built on subtle forms of misinformation. Sam can travel under the guise of a tourist or consultant to just about any country. Memorizing Christian contact info ahead of time protects those contacts from discovery when Sam is being screened in customs. Once in the country, Sam should be wary of tails. And periodically maintain his cover. If Sam’s a tourist, he should have a camera and snap pictures. If he arrived on some work visa, he should do his job. Guard his electronic communications and phone call communications. Use codes. Mentioning the Bible in Saudi Arabia or Iran could get Sam thrown in prison. Smuggling Christian material is easier electronically using encryption, but there’s no electricity in the bush. They need the Bible in their language. If Sam has the will and God’s guidance, he’ll find a way to reach the people he needs to.
David: Where does Corban Dowler go from here? What’s next?
Corban: I sense God’s guiding me to step out of my shell, maybe more public speaking, not necessarily in churches, but that’ll be included. The books you’ve written about COIL have helped pave the way, maybe to help my words be more readily received. I’m getting a little too old to be prowling the shadows like the old days. But I’ll be involved in COIL until I die, Lord willing.
David: I’ve recently completed another book about you, based off our other visits. What most do you want people to glean from your action-packed life?
Corban: I’m just a person like everyone else. By the grace of God, He opened my eyes before I died in my sin. And He’s allowed me to use my skills to share Christ’s love with others. That’s all any of us can hope to do.
David: Thank you for your time, Corban. We never talked about your family, so I’d like to visit with you again sometime and find out about that side of your life.
Corban: I would like that.
[End of interview]
Read other Interviews at this link.
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