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Monday, September 22, 2014

Interview with Missionary Caleb Suko

The things we worry about most are the things we trust God with the least.

 For a few years now, this is the lesson God has spoken to me about my sinful habit of worrying. Reading Caleb’s book, What If…How to Kill Worry and Anxiety Before They Kill You, really drove this home.  
One thing that truly stood out to me is Caleb’s testimony of NOT allowing worry to stop him from following God’s calling in his life.

It’s one thing to be able to write a book on Worry, it’s another to LIVE IT OUT!

Caleb and his family (wife and five kids) are full time missionaries in Ukraine. If you don’t follow world news you might not realize the severe instability and increasing violence going on there—especially against Christians. 

I have one kid to “worry” over. I’m not sure I could trust God to keep us safe in such a situation. 

But Caleb’s faith and trust have grown in Christ over a lifetime of serving Him. It didn’t happen overnight. Daily he commits his path, and his family, to his Lord. Daily he witnesses God’s hand guiding, providing and protecting those he loves. 

Now, I’d like to introduce you to Caleb with a short interview. I also HIGHLY encourage you to pick up your own copy of What If… Now on to the interview: 

Caleb, tell us about your journey of writing “What If…”

This book started with a paper that I wrote about 15 years ago when I was in seminary. It was a word study on the Greek word for “worry.”  I wrote the paper and then it sat in  file on my computer for a very long time. 

About 2 years ago I was searching through some of my old files and discovered that paper. I began to do some more study on worry and I also began to write more. After a couple of months of slowly adding to what I had already written I decided to keep going and turn it into a book.

From the time I finally decided to make it a book project till the time I got it published was just over 2 years. 

For me there were some pretty significant truths that I uncovered in my own life as I studied the topic of worry in the Bible. I had never so clearly seen the connection between my faith and worry (Click to Tweet). The process also helped me realize some areas of worry in my life that I struggle with and to face them head on with the power of God’s Word.

Do you believe writing this book helped prepare you for the trials you and your family are now facing being missionaries in war torn Ukraine? 

Some people, knowing the situation in Ukraine have mistakenly thought that I wrote this book in response to the war. Here’s the truth, when I decided to write this book everything was completely calm and peaceful in Ukraine. There wasn’t even the slightest hint that we might be facing a war soon! In fact, when people asked me if I thought Russia would ever invade Ukraine my response was always, “No way! They have no reason to and they’d be stupid to try!” I was wrong about that!

Now, looking back, I believe it was the hand of God that led me to write this book! God knew what was going to happen in Ukraine when I started writing. He knew how important these truths on worry and anxiety would be for me and for others! I’m so grateful that I followed his lead and completed this book before we returned to Ukraine last month! It has helped me immensely.

Please share with us recent experiences you’ve encountered where you’ve been tempted to worry and how you’ve handle those situations.

The fact is that we live in Ukraine and every day there’s a new reason to worry here. Every day I talk with people and you can see it on their faces. The Russian army continues to pour through the Eastern border and even as I write this they are moving our direction! People are scared, they have no assurance for the future. They see what happened in Donetsk and Lughansk and they are worried that the same will happen here in Odessa.

I read the news on Ukraine every day and that alone can sometimes make me feel anxious! We live about 30 miles from the border of Transnistria border where a couple thousand Russian troops are stationed. When I find myself start to worry about these things there are three things that I immediately do. First, I stop reading so much news, I don’t need to be obsessing over it! Second, I pray. That gives me something practical I can do about the situation. Finally, I focus my mind on a passage or verse of Scripture which speaks about God’s sovereign control. 

Explain to us how worry and faith interact.

After writing this book I’m more convinced than ever of the strong link between worry and faith. Jesus talks about it plainly. If you remember when the disciples were in the boat and Jesus was sleeping, they began to worry because a big storm came out of no where. When they called on Jesus to help his response was “Oh you of little faith!” (Mat 8:26)  Jesus understood this connection!

Again when Jesus taught about worry during his Sermon on the Mount, his conclusion was the same, “Oh you of little faith” (Mat 6:30). Worry is really a result of our lack of faith, our failure to understand God’s greatness and his abilities. In our lack of faith we worry because we are trying in our own strength and in our own mind to do what only God can do (Click to Tweet).

You say in your book, “If we feel our faith is not worth the risk we will compromise our faith every time.” Will you give us an example from your own life where your faith led you to do something completely contrary to what your flesh and rational mind wanted you to do? 

For me that has happened too many times when I had a chance to share the gospel with someone. I worry about sharing the gospel because I don’t know how people will respond. I worry that they’ll reject me, I worry that I won’t know exactly what to say, I worry that I won’t be successful. That worry keeps me from doing what I know I need to do. It keeps me from simply sharing the gospel. I need to put my faith in God and realize that if he wants me to share the gospel with someone then he will take care of the results.

How can someone begin growing their faith and trust in God?

The best way to grow your faith is to start but giving yourself a better understanding of who God is. I’m convinced that the deeper our concept of God, the stronger our faith will be. It’s just impossible not to trust in a God that we know is powerful, loving, and able! 

The second thing that we can all do to grow our faith is to test God’s truths by putting them into action in our lives. Personal experience with applied truth is powerful! It gives us confidence that we could never know otherwise!

Being a husband and father is a wonderful gift from God.  You love your family. With that in mind, can you expound upon this statement from your book, “Your worries tend to follow your highest values and greatest desires in life.”? Is it sometimes hard to put God first and trust Him with those He has given you to love?

I think all parents know what this is like. As a father it’s easy for me to worry about my child. In a way that’s good because I love them dearly. However, that can also be bad if we let our worry get out of control. Ultimately as a parent I have to put my child’s life in the hands of God. There are some things I can do to help ensure their safety and success, however, when it comes down to it I have to realize that I’m incapable of ensuring ultimate safety, only God can do that.

What advice do you have for those who are facing great fears/worries in their life regarding following God’s calling (be it to move, change jobs, become a missionary, give more to charities, or whatever)? 

This is really one of the reasons I wrote this book! I go into the topic in detail in chapter 16 called “Make Decisions Simple.”

There are so many “What ifs” in life! Some many unknowns. The truth is that we’d love to have a crystal ball and look into the future to know exactly what decision we need to make, what job to take, what person to marry, where to live, etc... 

However, we need to understand that instead of a crystal ball God has given us his Word. It doesn’t tell us exactly what school we should go to or what country we should live in. However, it does tell us the principles by which we should live our lives and that is what we need to be focusing on. It’s so easy to get caught up in the decision making process and start worrying about it. However, I believe that when we focusing on living the way God wants us to live, that he will naturally guide us and direct us in those other decisions of life.

Thank you, Caleb, for taking the time to share with us this important message for God’s people.

If you’re interested in donating to Caleb and his families mission work you can do so here. You can follow Caleb’s awesome (and highly informative) blog here as well as learn how you can follow him on twitter, facebook, and more.
And don’t forget to pick up your copy of What If…! 100% of the profits will go to helping those in the Ukraine, including translating What If into Russian to help give hope to those plagued with worry over their country!

What Questions do you have for Caleb? 

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