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Brave Like a Gurkha

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Tina

Authored by Tina Kapp

The Gurkhas are an indigenous people largely located in mid-western and eastern Nepal. They made up military units in the Nepalese, Indian, and British armies and were known for being absolutely fearless. My favorite example of their bravery is from Tim Bowden’s book, One Crowded Hour. During the 1964 Malaysian and Indonesian conflict in Borneo, a Gurkha regiment in the British Army was fighting the Indonesians. They were asked if they would jump from the transport planes above the battlefield, if that turned out to be the best course of action.

They could refuse, due to the fact that none of them had gone through any paratrooper training, but generally, the Gurkhas never said no to anything they were asked to do. However, this time they said that they would need to talk it over.

The next day they went back to the British officers and said that after discussing it, they had agreed they could do it under specific conditions. The Gurkhas first requested that they be dropped over marshy or relatively soft ground, as they weren’t experienced at falling. Since the theater of the operation was near a jungle, they expected it should be possible to find such a landing spot.

Next, “If possible,” the Gurkhas continued, “We’d like the plane to fly as slowly as possible and no more than 100 feet from the ground when we jump.” The British officer said they always fly slowly when dropping troops, but that 100 feet was much too close to the ground—the parachutes wouldn’t have time to open.

“In that case, you can drop us anywhere!” the Gurkhas said. “You hadn’t mentioned the parachutes.”

Now that’s bravery!

The first Bible story that comes to mind when thinking of bravery and courage is Daniel and his three best buddies. All of them faced the choice of sticking to their beliefs and facing death (by fiery furnace or hungry lions), or they could take the easy way out, deny their faith, and go along with the crowds.

Thankfully, you may never have to face death for your beliefs, but you may face ridicule or belittling of your faith, which is sadly very prevalent in today’s world. You see anti-God remarks in many TV shows and movies, often by the “good guy” in the movie. And if there is a Christian, have you noticed how often he turns out to be the bad guy or simply a nut case? Richard Dawkins has even promoted ridiculing and mocking Christians in public for their beliefs, something that would never be tolerated if aimed against other social groups.1

Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego all had high-ranking positions in the government. They didn’t go around antagonizing people or always bringing up their differences in religion; they simply lived their faith. However, when the king (or his jealous advisors) pushed too far, they stood their ground and didn’t compromise on their beliefs, and God came through for them in big ways! I love how the king, after finding out that his advisors had tricked him into having Daniel thrown into the lions’ den, told him, “May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!”2 Everyone was well aware of Daniel’s faith and who had first place in his life.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego didn’t know that God was going to bail them out when they refused to bow down to Nebuchadnezzar’s idol. They boldly said that even if God didn’t rescue them, they still wouldn’t bow down. After seeing God save them from the fiery furnace without even the smell of smoke, Nebuchadnezzar shouted, “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God.”3 After that, the king declared it illegal to say anything against their God, and to sweeten the deal, he gave them all a promotion. Imagine if they had decided that it would really be smarter to just bow down this one time. They would have missed out being a testimony of their faith to the whole kingdom, not to mention missing out on going down as examples of bravery and faith to all of us who read the Bible today.

You might not feel like the bravest soul, and it can actually be very hard to speak up when you need to, but with the Lord behind you, you can do it when the time comes. This is something King David knew well when he said, “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”4

Paul told the Corinthians, “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong.”5

Following in Jesus’ footsteps, we have learned to be tolerant and understanding, turn the other cheek, and forgive those that hurt us. All of that is important and a big part of what it means to be a Christian; however, Jesus also knew when He had to speak out against wrongdoing. He said a lot of things, even when He knew some people wouldn’t like it, simply because it was the truth. He didn’t say things just to be popular or go along with whatever was the going trend at the time. He stuck to what He knew to be right.

Telling others about the will of His Father and sticking to His convictions didn’t mean Jesus went around bashing others for being different than Him and yelling at people that they were all sinners and going to hell. When I lived in Uganda, I noticed that there were quite a few preachers who thought the Great Commission meant going around to the streets outside of the pubs and yelling in angry, raspy voices about God’s judgment and eternal damnation. I think that kind of preaching simply pushes people away from wanting to know more about God and His message of love and forgiveness.

Jesus talked to everyone who needed to hear what He had to say, and taught His disciples how to do the same. He taught them to be wise and to be an example of their faith through their kindness and actions. At the same time, when the crunch came, they knew when they had to stand up for their faith—a faith that often inspired people because of their strength of character and fearlessness. Rabindranath Tagore said, “Let us not pray to be sheltered from dangers but to be fearless when facing them.”6

When you think of men of courage, you can think of the Gurkhas. As former chief of staff of the Indian Army Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw famously said, “If a man says he is not afraid of dying, he is either lying or he’s a Gurkha.”


Footnotes
1 http://www.worldmag.com/2012/03/richard_dawkins_encourages_atheists_to_mock_and_ridicule_christians
2 Daniel 6:16 NIV
3 Daniel 3:28 NIV
4 Psalm 27:1 KJV
5 1 Corinthians 16:13 NIV
6 Rabindranath Tagore (May 7, 1861–August 7, 1941) was a Bengali polymath who reshaped his region’s literature and music.

Read by Stephen Larriva. Music by sindustry(CC). Copyright© 2014 by The Family International


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