Not the Norm, Structured to See Jesus, End Results
Not The Norm
And The Darkness Fled is Frank Peretti’s This Present Darkness meets true-life missionary story meets Joseph Campbell’s A Hero with a Thousand Faces. It is spiritual, it is real, and it is a compelling journey.
Dave Delgado strays from the distanced and reflective approach of missionary memoirs by giving readers an intimate, first person, present tense invitation to live his life experiences. Rather than, “God called me, here’s what He’s taught me and here’s what He’s leading me to next,” Delgado takes readers on a journey that begins at—and returns to—ground level: from a calling as a regular Joe with a job and a family, to the ordeal of fundraising, to the trials of missionary team life in an Islamic nation, to the depths of wrestling with spiritual darkness, to the splendor of seeing Jesus, to a face off with the government and forces of evil, and then to wandering in homelessness. It’s not pretty. It’s not glorious. And it’s not seemingly unattainable. Darkness Fled allows the ‘common Christian family’ to step onto the mission field, witness to Muslims, and then return and realize that God would take care of them if they were in fact to go.
And yet Darkness Fled does not hang on the usual “Trust God and Obey” theme. Rather, it exposes readers to the following topics while driving home the need for personal encounters with Jesus:
- Intercessory Prayer
- Gospel Presentation
- Failure on the Field
- Spiritual Warfare
- Young Callings
- Team Life
- Relationships with Muslims
- Hispanics and Church Planting among Arabs
Structured To See Jesus
At its core, Darkness Fled is about Jesus.
We Christians tend to focus on peripheral calls, such as preaching and evangelizing, and miss the fact that in following Christ our central call is to Jesus Himself. Even as a boy, Dave Delgado did the same. Darkness Fled is structured to reveal this common error and to demonstrate Jesus’ desire to redirect us to see Him.
And The Darkness Fled follows Campbell’s hero quest structure, complete with a bargain/call, descent, changing of rules, showdown/sacrifice and re-entry.
Each of the three parts begins with a prologue that establishes the call(s) to be completed.
The prologue to Part 1 is packed tight with a call to better see God’s plans for building His Church, a call to intercession and spiritual warfare, a call to preach, a call to pray, and a call to the mission field.
The prologue to Part 2 bluntly states Dave’s need to encounter Jesus.
And the prologue to Part 3 foreshadows the suffering and destruction that Dave and the team will face.
In Part 1, The Gospel and the God of Dirt, a young Dave Delgado bargains with God to save his life, promising that in return he will do anything—even preach! Dave recognizes this self-imposed call at the cognitive level and tries to honor his side of the deal by street preaching in major east coast cities. (Yes, Delgado takes us to the streets, stands us up on a crate, and gets us proclaiming Scripture to the crowds—in two languages.)
But two deeper calls pull at Dave. He feels emotionally out of control, drawn to intercede for lost souls.
I can’t stop crying. I try, but my body won’t listen to my mind. I’m so exhausted I’ve laid down on the basement floor to nap but I didn’t fall asleep before Aaron and Paul started telling Pastor Freddy about the people in New York City. Face down, I cover my head with my arms and try to listen to the hum of the washing machine. Tears streaming, my soul’s winning control. Lost—and running further away!
Spiritually, Dave wrestles with God, wanting answers to his prayers but not wanting to get too close to God Himself. Since childhood, Dave has received foreknowledge from God regarding the deaths of family and friends. But instead of becoming comfortable with God’s voice, Dave becomes afraid that God is calling him to be a prophet and rejects the call to hear from God.
“Three services?” I ask.
“That’s what the email says.” Cadia turns from the screen to me, face beaming. “First weekend in June. Saturday night. Then they’ll put us up in a hotel and give us two more services Sunday morning.”
Panic. “I’m not preaching, am I?”
“No, just whatever it is you call it.”
“It’s not a sale,” Cadia frowns.
“I don’t have another word for it.”
“‘Sharing our calling’?” she suggests.
“I don’t know that I believe in callings, barring the likes of Moses, Paul, and the prophets.” And I can’t, I can’t be a prophet.
But this call to hear from God won’t go away and Dave must one day answer, whether or not he fully understands the consequences.
Like all good quests, The Gospel and the God of Dirt introduces friends and mentors who support Dave and his family through the trials of becoming missionaries and during their belly-of-the-whale crisis. We experience first hand what it’s like to itinerate, sell all we have, and step out in faith.
We also begin to meet the enemy.
I trail my hand on the wall as I head for the kitchen. I arrive at the basement door, open it, and blink into the blackness.
You know where you’re going. Path’s clear.
I leave the light off and raise my hands in front of me as I step forward. Instantly, I feel a presence. Currents race through my arms, tingling stronger the more I descend. At the bottom of the stairs, I turn right and head across the room.
I keep my pace until I’m as close as I was in my dream. In that last step the current in my hands races to my spine and stays flowing. There you are…
“You cannot stay. You must go, in Jesus’ name.” I sweep right to left.
“No. In the name of Jesus of Nazareth, you are to go.” The basement door to the back yard stands just feet away, but in my dream I had walked to the front door.
Follow the dream.
I circle around, speaking at each step. “Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. In the name of Jesus.”
Slowly, the presence moves before my hands.
And The Darkness Fled repeatedly demonstrates that it is because of Jesus that the Kingdom of Light advances and the kingdom of darkness flees. Even at the threshold to leaving Dave faces a spiritual battle through which he must cling to Jesus.
Close your eyes, Dude. Deep breath. “I know Jesus.”
What’s He like?
How did He ‘change your life’?
Couldn’t you have changed on your own?
Are you really any different than you were?
Don’t you think you’re a good person?
You think people are wicked? That’s arrogant.
What did you find?
“Jesus…” Pray, man. Grab a song, a scripture. Fight! My mind is muddled. I draw blanks. I can barely remember the day I was baptized in the Spirit. I shouldn’t need the memory. I should just be able to pray! But no words come. All I can do is whisper, “Jesus. Jesus, help me. Jesus.”
A woman announces in three languages that our departure gate has been changed. We pick ourselves up and join a couple hundred people in a hike to the other side of the airport. We mix among whole families, generations traveling together, perhaps on pilgrimage during Ramadan, now headed home.
Their way of life is special.
Their traditions are precious to them.
Would they trade it because of you?
Who are you?
You are throwing away your life for no reason.
No one will benefit.
No one will hear.
You don’t even speak the language.
What do you have to offer?
You have nothing…
Parts 2 & 3
Wait, Walk, Run, and Do Not Fear and To Call for Cannons and Cry Out Songs both hinge on Dave’s visions of Jesus.
Wait, Walk, Run blooms open the desert country and people of Zalam while preparing Dave’s heart, layer by layer, to see Jesus. Dave must repent of his pride, surrender his personal desire to preach, and learn to serve his teammates in prayer. Along the way, Dave begins to love the Muslim children and to battle for them in the spiritual realm. But as Dave descends deeper, the enemy counters. Broken and wounded, Dave crashes. “Where is Jesus?”
And then Jesus reveals Himself.
And, of course, everything changes.
To Call for Cannons twists theme upon theme like wires on a bomb. Intercessory prayers are wept for imprisoned friends. Young children take a stand in spiritual warfare. Long-sought unity is finally felt by the team, but the team’s whole platform for gospel presentation is threatened.
And The Darkness Fled leaves readers feeling raw, disturbed, and angry, but also loved, emboldened and impassioned—wanting to leave life behind and run into the field, wanting to love Jesus more, wanting to trust God loves them and desires to talk to them.
If that weren’t enough, Darkness Fled dispels the we-have-to-be-afraid-of-Muslims lie. By the end, we’ve watched Dave make friends with Muslim men and women. We’ve witnessed him fail and succeed in sharing Christ. And we’ve joined him in falling in love with his Muslim students.
There is hope. And we have it.
Now will we share?