Never Alone: Living Fearlessly in the Face of Danger
Hear how Jamie Winship, former DC police officer and founder of Identity Exchange, was able to stand in his faith after being arrested and jailed on a remote island in Indonesia.
Check out photos, videos, and behind-the-scenes stories from our guests on the podcast. You won’t want to miss these exclusive extras!
If you’ve ever felt alone or abandoned by God, you’ll want to hear what Jamie Winship, former DC police officer and founder of Identity Exchange, has to say about God’s presence in trials, hardship, and even in the face of danger. He takes us on a journey to an island in Indonesia, where he, his wife Donna, and their three young kids, lived for 10 years. Through his experiences there, including being arrested and faced with years in jail, Jamie learned that no matter where you are in the world or what you’re facing, you are never alone.
Never Alone: Living Fearlessly in the Face of Danger
Cathy Herholdt: Welcome to the End of the Road Podcast. My name is Cathy and I'm your host and tour guide as we journey together to some of the most remote, challenging places on the planet. I'm so excited to have you along for the ride. So buckle up, we're going to the end of the road. Our guest today is Jamie Winship. And he's a very busy guy, so it wasn't easy to get on his calendar to do this interview. So I'm grateful for this opportunity and can't wait for you to hear some of Jamie's stories and experiences in what he calls high conflict areas. So we're talking places like Indonesia, Jordan, Iraq, Palestine, and Israel. Jamie is the founder of Identity Exchange, an organization that helps people live fearlessly in their true identity. So welcome to the podcast, Jamie. Thanks so much for being here.
Jamie Winship: Thank you, Cathy. I'm glad to be here. Glad it worked out finally to be here.
Cathy Herholdt: Yes. So now Jamie, you're a former D.C. police officer, and I always like to start with the same question of all of our guests on this podcast. When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? Now, lots of kids want to be a police officer or a firefighter, but was that the case for you? Or what did you want to be?
Jamie Winship: Yeah, that is actually the case. Yeah, I was in, Fairfax County was the actual department I was on in D.C. Yeah. So as early as I can remember, solidified in eighth grade, but that's really what... I wanted to be some kind of police... Probably earlier it was like, I wan to be a sheriff, the cowboys kind of thing, but yeah, police officer as far back as I can remember.
Cathy Herholdt: Okay. So what you do now is very different. Your life has taken you on real twists and turns, including living and working in some pretty wild, even dangerous places. But before we get there, how did being a police officer prepare you for some of those experiences and what you do now?
Jamie Winship: Yeah, that's a great question. It's interesting when I'm talking about this. And so I went into the police department when I was 23 and I'm 62 now. So it's been a long time. But everything I do now currently, or what we've done over the last 25, 30 years, I actually lly learned in the police department. And so I'll say it like this, I learned it as a believer in the police department. Like, being a follower of Christ in the vocation of police officer really was, I mean, how the Lord prepared me for where we are today. I would've never taken the opportunities that presented themself to me if I didn't understand my walk with Jesus and how that worked into the vocation that I was in as a police officer.
Jamie Winship: I mean, when that became more clear in my mind, which was probably about my third year as a police officer, when you're a police officer and you get past the idealism of like, "I'm going to go in there and it's going to be this amazing career and change the world."d you get into the reality of, "Wow, this is very dark," a lot of the men and women I worked with who were great people, but also became very dark because of the world they were in all the time, you can't be in these kinds of professions and vocations and not be affected by it. I mean, that is so not possible. And so once you realize, wow, it's not only are we not impacting the world, we're actually being infected by its darkness, that's when you have to have something greater than your training, your commitment, your zeal, all of that stuff.
Jamie Winship: You really need access to a voice, a belief of God that's greater than all of that, that you can call on in and realize, wow, in the darkest of the dark situations we worked, that you actually possess the mind of Christ. Once you figure that out, it's pretty dramatic anmazing. It's almost like the darkness draws you then because you're the light, is what John says. And when the light shines in the darkness, the darkness must recede. But if you're a police officer, even a Christian police officer, and you don't understand the truth of that, you don't have much to do in the darkness except be dark yourself. So in that process and as I became more skilled in, wow, how do you bring on a practical basis? How do you bring light into a dark situation where the people aren't even asking for the light, but you're shining the light into the darkness? The more I could do that, it actually drew the attention of other agencies. It leads to promotion is what happens, because you're offering a legitimate alternative to a world that mostly people have given up on.
Jamie Winship: Like, we're always going to have crime, we're always going to have drug dealers. And you start to believe this lie, that evil actually is just going to always be with us and there's nothing we can do about it. And it's not true. I mean, if anything, when we read the l of Jesus, that is not the case. So as I understood my identity in Christ more deeply, I became better at my job. And I got promoted and we broke really fascinating cases that you wouldn't think would happen. And then eventually the U.S. government paid attention to what we were doing in the police department. And then they offered a position that was international. And once I realized that and saw that what the Lord teaches in the local goes international, I mean, because that's how God is, God of the whole world. And my wife and I were willing to say, "Hey, let's take this broader than our own city," then the Lord invites you into the world, which is where I think he wants probably all of us. And into hard places, right? The remote places.
Jamie Winship: So at the invitation of the U.S. government, we started thinking about that, which was really the invitation of the Lord. It's interesting how God invites us into things we wouldn't normally choose.
Cathy Herholdt: Yeah. Well, that's so interesting that you say that. I've certainly had that my experience in my life. I'm sure lots of the listeners have, where that invitation comes in a way you would least expect it and not what you're really thinking. So the U.S. government started to pay attention to the work that you were doing and you and your wife actually relocated overseas, didn't you? So to take us to kind of the next step of the journey and where you went.
Jamie Winship: Yeah. So it was interesting because the... So I met with these government officials and they were just telling me about, there's a certain situation in another country that they were trying to resolve and they couldn't figure a way to do it. I think this is super encoging. Like, our walk of faith, our walk with Jesus is to bring solutions to the problems of the world, right? And it should draw the attention of others that, "Wow, these believers are doing something that we don't know how to do, haven't thought of doing." So they played out this scenario, they presented this scenario and said, "What would you do on it?" And I was 28 at the time. And I just, in the middle of the conversation, I just kept asking the Lord, "Give me just wisdom on how to answer these guys, because I'd never thought of this situation. I'd never been in it."
Jamie Winship: And just asking for wisdom, as the Lord promises to give. And I just gave an answer. I would do this. And they said, "Then we're hiring you right on the spot. We'll take you." That just opened up the way. And then it was, going home and telling my wife, "Hey, I thin just took a job in the far east or something." So like on Tuesday, I'm a police officer and we loved our life and we had kids and all that and everything was going great. And then on Wednesday, everything changes as is how scripture teaches us, even though we may not believe it. So yeah. I went to grad school, both my wife and I went to grad school as a result of it, as part of the whole process to move. And then we ended up in Indonesia for the next 10 years. And we ended up overseas for the next 27. So that was pretty...
Jamie Winship: But then as we said earlier, looking back, it was all just this beautiful journey with Christ. It wasn't anything... It was like, is this the way someone that wants to be a police officer would end up? It was kind of like, yeah. So the Lord does interesting and myrious things, but they do make sense. Like, it's not like just this crazy idea. It was like, well, it actually lines up with who we are in Christ. And I think that's important. So it wasn't just crazy faith. It made sense. I could say, well, yeah. This would be a next step. I would've never picked this next step, but it does line up with who I am and who my wife is. And so then we ended up going into Indonesia for those next 10 years.
Cathy Herholdt: Interesting. So I think that's a great takeaway for the listeners to just kind of think about that it needs to... If you're looking at a next step, maybe even kind of a wild step out in faith, into something or some place that seems like it might be a big deal, might be overwhelming, might be all kinds of things, that it needs to kind of align with your faith and make sense. Maybe not what you would've thought of or the way you would've thought of it, but it needs to make sense. I think that's an interesting takeaway. So your wife, Donna, you tell her we're going to pack up and we're going to move to another country. You've got young kids. You guys are really a team, I know that from hearing you guys speak and seeing you, but at that time, was she on board with this idea?
Jamie Winship: Oh no. Not at all. Yeah, no, I came from that meeting, came home late at night after that meeting and I woke her up and she was hugely pregnant with our second child and I woke her up and my wife happens to be Jewish, which was a factor because I woke her up and I said,ey, guess what? I just got a job offer. It's a big deal." And at the time I said, "We're going to move to Cairo, Egypt." And she just started crying. Like, I don't know, it just so shocked her and I should have not done it that way. That was not the right... But I was excited-
Cathy Herholdt: Live and learn. Live and learn.
Jamie Winship: Yeah. And I told her, I said, "I've already called them." Yes. And it's... But after we had a chance to talk about it, and we actually went away for a week or so really to pray through it and just make sure, as you just said that it did make sense. I mean, we've seen at of people get in trouble and make bad decisions just on some kind of emotional, we think this is God and they don't take time to process it and get some outside people to say, "Does this line up?" Whenever I'm praying with young people about decisions or older people, once they sense God's movement or hear God's voice, I always ask them, "Does that make sense to you?" So even when Moses is out with a burning bush in that wild experience, and God says to him," I want you to go back and rescue your people," Moses was trained to do that. I mean, the weird thing is that he was a shepherd. That was the bizarre thing.
Jamie Winship: The fact that he wasn't leading his people as a very powerful world leader out of Egypt was what he should have been doing, right? The odd thing was he wasn't being who he was supposed to be. I think we get that backwards. The Lord was saying was, I didn't make you to a shepherd. I made you to be a leader of nations. And the fact that you're a shepherd is a mistake. So for God to elevate us to these high levels is probably more in line with what he wants than us relegating ourselves off into some weird, low level position that he didn't create us for. So I always find that interesting, but yeah... It was definitely a calling for both of us. It wasn't just for me. And I'm a big believer in when God calls couples or families or whatever, he calls the whole group, not just one guy to lead and the others just follow him.
Jamie Winship: And trust me, when we got into like Iraq, harder places than Indonesia, Donna was much more stable and committed and would love the places more than I was. I would be like, "Let's go, let's go." And then when we get there. And I would be like, "Why did you let us move he" And she was the one, she was the one that would say, "No, we're here now and we're going to make this place a home and we're going to impact the people that God asks for." So it was very much a, I would want to go and she would be hesitant and then we would get there and I'd be like, "Why are we here?" And she'd be the one that was stable. There's this very beautiful partnership in that.
Cathy Herholdt: So I've heard you talk about, there were some moments along the way though, where maybe one or both of you questioned it just from maybe a safety perspective, take maybe Indonesia where you spent the first 10 years. Was there a time when your kids were young and your family might have actually been in danger where you were like, "Okay, what are we doing here?"
Jamie Winship: Oh yeah. So in Indonesia, we lived on a small island and it was a Muslim community and on that particular island was a very radicalized Islamic group that were interested in destabilizing the rest of Indonesia. And that was sort of their base of operations. And so moved into that scenario and our goal was to get inside of that movement and pacify them was the term, but to bring the kingdom of God into these kind of radical, they were actually young people and watch God transform their lives into peaceful. That was the idea, but of course, were not experienced in that stuff. And you have to learn and you have to learn to trust God and not get ahead of God. But I was pretty aggressive on how I went after meeting with those students. And I worked in the university and I was a professor in the university.
Jamie Winship: So if you can imagine being the professor in the university that's 98% Muslim, who prepares you for that? So the things I would say, even though we were speaking the language of the folks, I just made mistakes. And things I said that I shouldn't have said that violatedeir laws of what you can talk about. So in the first year I got arrested and charged with insulting Islam, which is a very serious charge. I mean, if you've read the news about being in countries and you're accused of blasphemy or, this wasn't blasphemy, but it was the next level down. I just said something I probably shouldn't have said. And they perceived it as an insult to Islam. So I was immediately arrested. And had to go to trial for it. And the penalty, it was the automatic 10 years in prison for that.
Jamie Winship: There were students in the university who were Muslim, who had nothing to do with us, but who were fomenting some of the conflict. And they would say something negative about Islam or the Islam of Indonesia or something like that. And they would go straight to prisonr 10 years. So it wasn't just me. It was anyone. So yeah, so I was arrested and on an island, they don't have to in incarcerate you, there's just nowhere to go. It was a little tiny island. You're under arrest, can't leave, and you're going on trial on this date and the penalty for what you did is 10 years. And so if you can imagine... Waking Donna up in the middle of the night, tell her we're going to Cairo was nothing compared to coming home and telling her, "I just got arrested for insulting Islam and it's a 10 year prison term."
Jamie Winship: And she's not allowed to leave either. She can't leave the island or our three, we had three. We have three kids and they were little six, five and 10 months old. So for her to hear that, this is the way this is going to go, it was absolutely terrifying. I wasnas concerned about the prison part, I felt like I could do that part, the 10 years. What I was terrified about was her being a Jewish person stuck for 10 years on an island of Islamic fundamentalist. And they didn't know she was Jewish, but that would've been a matter of time before they figured that out. That's what I was, and our kids, was more concerned about their safety then.
Jamie Winship: And I contacted the U.S. government and said, "Hey, this is what's going on in this island. I got arrested. I'm going to go on trial. I'm not allowed to defend myself because I'm not Muslim. There's no witnesses to defend me. What can you do?" And the U.S. government waike, "Good luck. We're not going to interfere in this. We can't do it." They said it's not valuable enough for us to get involved.
Cathy Herholdt: Oh my goodness.
Jamie Winship: So you're talking about feeling very alone and powerless.
Cathy Herholdt: Yeah. Yeah. So I take it that's not the reason you spent 10 years in Indonesia because you were in prison, but how did you get out of that situation?
Jamie Winship: Well, and this is I think one of the things what I love about what you're doing, Cathy, is helping people understand that it doesn't matter where you are in the world, you're not away from God. Even the notion that a person has is like, God is more powerful than the . than God is in Islamic fundamentalist camp is just absolutely false. But how are we going to know that? The only way we can know that is by experiencing the truth of who God is, that's when Jesus says, "You shall know and experience the truth and the truth will set you free." And I just know it, you experience it. And so it was a big challenge to my belief. And so my confession to God was, "Here I am on this island. We left everything for you. We were 10,000 miles away from the U.S. on this little island. We can't leave. No recourse. I'm going to prison for 10 years. And I felt abandoned by God.
Jamie Winship: So going into the actual trial, like I said, I wasn't allowed to speak because I'm not Muslim, no one was going to defend me. I mean, there was no students or professor going to come forward and defend me, they'd be in prison faster than I was. So it was all just feeliabsolutely powerless and alone, which all humans know is the worst... For a human to feel separate and alone and powerless is our worst nightmare. And so just going into that trial, I said goodbye to my family and went to it, and listened to them read the charge and they didn't make up a charge. What they said I said is what I said. And had nothing to do with religion per se. I was talking about writing a PhD thesis. And it was just kind of taken out of context. But I did say what I said.
Jamie Winship: And so they weren't lying, nobody was manipulating anything, it was just a mistake on my part in what I said. It was a lesson I have never forgotten too. Not to say not talk like that. Get lazy with what you say, and you say things not paying attention to the people you'saying it to. It's disrespectful. Anyway, so I was actually apologizing to God while they were reading the charge. I was like, "I shouldn't have done that. I should have asked you how talk to those students that time. I was just going on my own knowledge. And so I'm just praying that through the 10 years or whatever, that you'll keep my family safe."
Jamie Winship: The guy, the Islamic cleric running the trials, when he was done saying, "Well, I mean, he's obviously guilty. Does anyone want to speak on his behalf?" And it just goes silent. But this Muslim guy comes walking in and he's dressed as a professor. Professors wore cein uniform. He comes walking in and he, in English, he says, because the whole proceedings are in Indonesian, he says in English, "I would like speak on behalf of this person." Me. Yeah. Shocker to me because I didn't know who the guy was, never met him. I knew he wasn't from that island, because I knew every professor in that university. I mean, I knew who they were. And so this person was from somewhere else. I knew that. But they were clearly Muslim because they were allowed to speak and he was clearly known because they deferred to him immediately, which that would've never happened.
Jamie Winship: So we call it, he had Wasta, we call it. He had the authority just to walk into a trial with Islamic clerks and speak freely. And so he came in and he said to them, "You all know who I am." And everyone bowed their heads to him. So he was some pretty influential personnd so they let him speak. And he tells the story of being a university student at Arizona State University. And how, when he got there as a grad student, with a scholarship from the government of Indonesia to go study linguistics, he knew he was going to fail. And he was saying to the court, "If you're sent by the Indonesian government and you fail, you're ruined for the rest of your life. You're never going to work again. You're going to be working in a rice field because you've embarrassed the government."
Jamie Winship: And he said, "I knew I wasn't going to make it through the program. It was too difficult." And these two other grad students came and met with them and said, "We believe that God is asking us to help you through the grad program." He's telling this in the Islamic... He d, "These two students come and they help me. And they brought their wives and their wives help my wife adjust to the university and all that." And he said, "And they helped me for three years pass the PhD program. And I passed at a higher level than them because they sacrificed on my behalf." He said, "They were never too busy. They put me before them the whole time." And he said, "Here's the thing about those guys. They were Christians and I'm a Muslim. So I would be considered to them maybe their enemy, but they came and they loved me and they sacrificed for me."
Jamie Winship: And then he said, "After I'd known them for about two months, they invited me to a Wednesday night study group." And he said, "And I went to that Wednesday night study group for the whole three years I was there." And he said, "You know what that study group was?" And I w what he was going to say. And I couldn't believe he was going to say it. He said it was a Bible study. He said, "I went to the Bible study every Wednesday night for three years with my Christian friends who saved my life in that university." He said, "Now is anyone in this room accusing me of not being a good Muslim because I went to a Bible study for three years?" And he looks around and everyone's like, "No, no, no, no. No, you're a good Muslim. You're aren't a bad Muslim."
Jamie Winship: And then he says, so let me ask a question. He said, "I was a Muslim student in a Christian environment and they sacrificed to make me successful of themselves." He goes, "Now we have a Christian in a Muslim environment, what are we going to do for him? He made a mise. What are we going to do for him?" "We're going to put him in jail." I just don't think that's right. They didn't do it to me. And I don't think we ought to do it to them. And I just disagree with what's happening here, but that's all I'm going to say." And then he just walked out. And when he left, the head Islamic cleric said, "I think we should drop these charges is right now." And they did. They immediately dropped. In fact, the guy that brought the charges, who was a dean in the university, they fired him. They terminated his position.
Jamie Winship: And so I went outside, they released me and I was like, "Okay." And then I walk outside and the guy standing out there and I said, "Who are you?" And he said, he goes, "Did you look at the front of the courtroom? In the front of the courtroom, did you notice who was the" And I said, yeah. I know the three clerics and the head of the university. And he goes, "But there was one empty seat." Right? "Did you see the empty seat?" "Yes." And he said, "Do you know who's supposed to be there?" And I said, "Yeah, the head of the Islamic association of the whole country. He said, "Yeah, that seats empty because that guy was killed in a car accident yesterday." And I'm the new one.
Jamie Winship: Because I was newly appointed to the position in Jakarta and I flew here to speak. So Jakarta to where we were was like flying from LA to New York. I mean, he must have... I don't know what time he left in the morning to fly, to get to this little island. And he sai"You know why I did that? I did that to thank the two guys that helped me through the PhD program." He said, "And I've always wanted to thank them. And this is my way of thanking them for what they did for me. And that's why I came here." He said, "But let me tell you something." He said, "I know why you're here. You're here because you love God. You love Jesus. And you believe that Jesus wants you here." He said, "And that's okay." Okay, good. He said, "But you better find a different way to talk to our people because when you talk to them, you offend them and Jesus doesn't do that to people. So learn another way to share your faith."
Jamie Winship: Oh, I like never forgot that lesson. And that's the lesson the Lord wanted to teach. He wanted to teach me two things. One is, nothing can separate you from the love of God that's in Christ Jesus, not height nor depth, nothing. Miles, countries, no creative thing, heys, can separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus. You are never powerless and you are never alone wherever you are. And you better talk to people with respect, because if you get sloppy and insult people, then you're not speaking to them the way Jesus would, who loved him and died on their behalf. So those were the two big lessons. And God wanted us to learn them right out of the gate. And that intense experience just... The only shortcut to Christian maturity is suffering. That's the only shortcut. And so to speed up the learning, God intensified the situation to where we really just had to be quiet and listen to what he wanted us to learn. So that's how we started. That was our first out of the gate.
Jamie Winship: And we were like, "Oh man, what happens after this?" I was like, "What happens? What's the next level to learn? And how do we learn it?" Knowing that suffering is, it says in the Hebrews, Jesus learned obedience through what he suffered. And he's our example. So we knehat God was going to take us through things where ideas we had, practices we had had to die, because they were wrong. But with every death is the resurrection of the new. And his thing was, when I tell you to let an idea die, a belief die, a prejudice die, you let it die. And I will raise you into the new. The oldest has passed away. The new has come. So I was like, "Hold on. Here goes the journey." But I'm telling you what a life it's been, to this day. I mean, even in the last week, what we're involved in is just astounding to me. I would've never... He does more than we can ask or imagine.
Cathy Herholdt: I love that. I love that. I would've also loved to be a fly on the wall when you got home that day and told Donna know what happened at the courthouse. So yeah, pretty amazing. We throw around terms like, nothing is impossible for God, but to hear an experience like that, it really brings it home and it really makes it so clear just how God is constantly just orchestrating the circumstances and the people and the timing of things for his purposes. And so, I mean, sorry to say, it probably wasn't all about you, but it was about accomplishing his purposes in order to do that. And I love the takeaway too, about being careful with our words and learning how to speak respectfully to people. I think that's so important in our witness.
Cathy Herholdt: I want to just pause for a moment and thank our listeners for joining us today. If you're just hearing about World Concern for the first time, and you're curious to learn a little bit more about who we are and what sets us apart from other organizations you might be familiar with, please visit worldconcern.org/podcast, and learn a little bit more about what we do. And now let's get back to our conversation.
Cathy Herholdt: I want to get onto a few other sort of locations, places, experiences, because I know we're limited on time, but, so let's do this. Tell us the most difficult, challenging place on the planet that you've ever been in terms of personal comfort challenges and the challenges faced by the people who live there. Out of all the places you've been, what would you say?
Jamie Winship: Mm-hmm (affirmative). In terms of like... Those are easy actually, because in terms of just personal comfort or the difficulty of the environment itself was working in the Southern Sahara desert with the Saharawi people. That is never an easy place to go to. It's hard tet there. Once you're out there, it's just such a hard life for those folks. It's the worst refugee situation in the world. No one even knows about it because the people are just unimportant to the world. So that one, just being... You have to go out and stay in the tents with them in the middle of the desert and it's hot and there's no electricity and it's just rough, hard to be there. That's environment wise, but like day to day difficult situation to be in, Israel, Palestine was the hardest.
Jamie Winship: And that was the hardest. And it still is to me, the most difficult place for me spiritually and mentally to be is, even though physically it wasn't, but mentally and spiritually is because the conflict level there is so high and it never stops. And so like, I always teleople, it's like, if you go on a tour of the holy land, it's great and it's beautiful and it's amazing. If you want to try and live there and not just live way up north in Israel, on a beautiful kibbutz, but I'm talking about down Jerusalem, in the West Bank where the conflict never stops. We lived in Jerusalem right outside the old city, and we lived in the one section in Jerusalem that's mixed race. Jerusalem is a segregated city. Modern Jerusalem is hugely segregated.
Jamie Winship: And so we lived in the one neighborhood where our Muslim friends were allowed to come into the building. And people don't know that. People don't know that, about the situation there. And so in our little street, if I stood at the bus stop at our street, so at the stop, there could be Muslims, there could be Orthodox Jews, there could be secular Jews. Everyone at that bus stop hated everyone else at that bus stop. The secular Jews didn't like the Orthodox Jews, but they were United against the Muslims who were at the bus stop. And then you have the Christians, right? The Christian community who are probably more friendly with the Muslims than they are with the Israelis, with the Jews. And then among the Jews there's divisions, among the Muslims there's division, among the Christian sex there's division, but they unite in hatred of the other ones.
Jamie Winship: So it was just like when we moved into that situation, the team leader that we worked with, who's been there a long time. He told me, and I didn't know what he meant until we've learned. He said, "You're going to spend 85% of your energy just trying to manage the conflicou're going to be in everyday. It's in the air, it's in everything you do, every bus you get on is in conflict. And it's just going to seep into your system and it's going to affect you. And you're just going to have to be aware of it. And you're going to have to learn how to really understand the piece of Christ within you, because externally is not going to be there." So people that go into work in that region, they end up either moving way into the West Bank and just be with Palestinians or way into Israel and just be with Israelis because to work between the two is really hard, really difficult.
Jamie Winship: So that's by far, the hardest one for me, still is when we're still working in that scenario. The hostility is so old, so ancient and bitter and you got walls separating neighborhoods and the whole thing. Every day you get up, you're just reminded, we don't want you herwhichever group you're in. And that's hard.
Cathy Herholdt: Wow. Yeah. It sounds like just sustained conflict. Like, just consistently, never a break from it. That would be very wearing on you. Like you said, mentally and spiritually. When you think about your time there, is there a person or experience that kind of stands out in your memory that made an impact on you?
Jamie Winship: Yeah, really so many there, because where sin abounds, grace does much more abound. So it's one of those things like, yeah, but you want to see the piece of Christ really at work, go into a... The deeper the conflict, the more you see the piece of Christ and the pow Even in just one individual in that scenario. And same thing, two of the Palestinian men that came to faith while we were there. One was the mayor of a town and the other guy was the principal of an Islamic school in the same area. And so I worked primarily in the Palestinian context. So we did a lot with the Israeli, but there's a lot of Christian mission effort in Israel.
Jamie Winship: I think when we were there, there were 10,000 Christian organizations working in Israel, from the U.S., not just... 10,000 in a place the size of New Jersey. Then when you go to the West Bank, it's way less than that, far, far less than that. So I would get up everyy and just cross over into the West Bank, which has its own kind of drama and everything. But in the West Bank, what we would do, and this is how the zillions of stories like this is just, as Jesus said, just find the people of peace, find the people of peace. And when you find them, stay with them. Stay with them. And if they reject your peace, walk away. And so we would do that. And just the people of peace we met and spent time with, where it wasn't like, they're just nice people. It's like, something was going on inside of them spiritually.
Jamie Winship: And I think this is what I love about your podcast. And what you're doing is we think there's places in the world where God's just not at work. Like, he's just not present there. It's so false. And so one day, I'll just you one experience out of many. We saw many Palestans come to faith. It's still going on. Lots of great... I met a girl the other day here, where we are in Tennessee, who's been living in the West Bank for six years. She's young and she lives in Jericho. And she's got amazing things she's doing, but I had a friend with me visiting, look, he's a statistician, was going to do something at the University of Tel Aviv. And I said to him one day, "Hey, I want to show you something. Come with me into the West Bank and we'll go into the West Bank. And we'll just ask God before we go, 'Just take us to a person of peace who's seeking Christ.' Like, that's how specific we were.
Jamie Winship: So I said, "I want to show you," because he is a statistics guy. And so I said, "Just statistically speaking, how hard do you think it would be to find that one guy?" And he said, "It's astronomical." So we prayed together and we went into the West Bank and we were j wandering around in Bethlehem and all the areas there. And I'm standing at this vegetable stand and I'm looking at this thing called cactus fruit, which I had never seen before. And I'm looking at it and I'm just like, my American friend's asking me, "What is that?" And I don't know. And this man next to me says, "That's called a cactus fruit." And he starts explaining it to me, Palestinian man.
Jamie Winship: And so I'm talking with him and I said to him, he asked me, "You're an American." "Yes, I am." And he said, "Are you a Christian?" And I said, "I don't know what you mean. Like, what does that mean? When you say am I a Christian? What are you asking me?" And then he's heant. And he said, "Do you understand Jesus?" And I said, "Yes, I do." And I said to him, "Are you a Muslim?" And he said, "What do you mean by Muslim?" Funny answer. And he said, "I'm not a radical," or something like that. But he said, "But I am interested in understanding Jesus. And I've been asking God for four years to show me the right person to tell me about Jesus, because I don't want to just ask anyone. And I don't know Muslim friends to ask."
Jamie Winship: He said, "Will you come to my house tomorrow for dinner? I want my wife to meet you and kids." So like, okay. So you're cautious and like, that sounds like... And my friend's like, "Come on." Anyway, we go the next day and get on the bus, little bus. And the buses don'eave until they're full. So you sit on a bus for a long time. And he comes on the bus and he's sitting in front of me. And he said, "We're going to go up to my village." He said, "But I've had these dreams about Jesus," which is very common. And he said, "I want to understand Jesus. And that's why I want you to come." So we go up to his house and he lived up in the hills, but near his house was a monastery. And there was a statue of Mary holding the baby Jesus. And he walked us to this statue.
Jamie Winship: So this guy's probably in his forties. And he stands over and he goes, "I walk to this statue every day and I want to know about Mary who's revered in Islam and Jesus, who's also revered, but I don't know how this works. And so we spent the whole night with him and his w and his two teenage daughters walking through the kingdom and all of that beautiful stuff. And I can't tell you how of times that happened while we were there. The presence of God was so strong there. The only thing that would keep people from seeing fruit there was that they'd be afraid to go. And that's the whole strategy of the enemy. Just don't go there. It's too dangerous. You're going to get killed there. Muslims hate God. They hate Jesus. They hate Christians. That's the enemy's only way because if you ever went in there and started asking questions, you're going to find out Jesus has been here a long time and he's inviting us in and the harvest is white.
Jamie Winship: As Jesus said, among Samaritans he said that to the Jewish disciples. Don't think the Samaritans are hard to reach. Their harvest is white here among them. It's you guys that have the problem with Samaritans, not God. So yeah, I mean, and so I've been to graduations in U.S. with Palestinian students that we met, who came to faith and ended up in the U.S. on full scholarships. And the principal of the Islamic school came with us. He came to faith. He changed the name of the school to the Kingdom of God's School. He started teaching Islamic students how to hear God and how to understand their identity. I mean, it was stunning. It was a hard place to live, but wow, what a movement of God. We still work with all of them to this day, so.
Cathy Herholdt: Amazing, amazing. I could sit and listen to your stories forever. I know that everybody listening today probably feels the same way, but it's cool that you brought up the idea of some people won't go. And that doesn't mean necessarily going to another country, it doesn't mean going into a dangerous place. It could mean your own neighborhood, could mean your own family. I mean, it could be any of those things, but what you were sort of implying there is that the thing that holds us back is fear. And I know that you focus your work today, a lot on living fearlessly, on helping people move past fear. And so I know the process that you walk people through, because I've been through it a few times. You've led some retreats for World Concern, and I've also been to some of your workshops and stuff.
Cathy Herholdt: And actually personally had some pretty incredible experiences going through that process that you do about identifying or finding your identity. So just for the sake of time, give us kind of an overview of how you guide someone to begin to identify their true identity and live in that, which the result of that is living fearlessly. And so give the listeners a little takeaway. Maybe they can jot this down and spend some time on their own kind of doing this, but walk us through the process.
Jamie Winship: Yeah. So the whole issue when you're... Again, why I love what you're doing in your podcast is when I say certain things like, yeah if I go to Palestine or Iraq or wherever, and I believe that somehow God's not as powerful there as God is in the U.S. or in my church ormething like that, we're making a statement about God that's false, right? We're saying a belief about God, even though we would never really say it, everything comes down to what do I really believe about God? And then the next question is, and depending on that, what do I really believe about myself? And then what do I really believe about other people? So it's like, you take the great commandment, love God, love your neighbor in the same way that you love yourself. Like, that's kind of the triad.
Jamie Winship: And what you find out, what we find out, and myself included is just like Eve when she's in the garden and she moves to a wrong view of God. Like, wow, God's withholding something from me. God's not as loving and giving as what I thought, why is he withholding? So sh already on a wrong view of God. Then she develops... Out of that, comes a wrong view of herself. I must not be worth it. I mean, I must not be worth him giving everything to me, because why didn't he give me that? Which creates a wrong view about Adam. Like, it's just the whole thing falls apart.
Jamie Winship: So we really come down to the question of identities. What is the identity of God or the ontology of God? God is love. That's how God describes God's self. God is love. God is spirit. And God is consuming fire, actually are the three God is. So when Moses says, "Who ayou?" He says, "I am that I am. I am the one that is all existence, all of it itself. That's who I am." So you want to get a right view of... Right understanding of God is absolutely critical. And that's why we have scriptures and teaching and all that. But you have to get to the right view of yourself. What does God call me? And I just did this with a bunch of middle schoolers the other day in a public school. It's really fascinating. But so simply the process is this. It's very simple.
Jamie Winship: So in the scripture, we go through confession, repentance, transformation. That's kind of the sacred motion of believers all the time for the renewing of our mind, for the transformation process. Tell the truth, confess. Repentance is then letting God tell you the truthd turning and going the new way. And then the new walk is the transformation. So simple process that anyone can do. I do this all the time, especially when you're struggling with negative emotion, is just take some time and say, "Lord, I'm asking you to search me and know me right now, right now." Like David preached, "Search me and know me and reveal to me anyway in me that's offensive to you." One of the things that's most offensive to God is when I, as one of his acts of creation, I'm a masterpiece of God. When I view myself as different, less than what he made me to be, that's an insult to the artist. Like, I think I'm a failure. What an insult to the God who made me to call his workmanship garbage? Really is what I'm saying. What an insult. It's offensive to God.
Jamie Winship: So Lord, search me and know me. And then just take, is my pad of paper right here, just take a pad of paper and say, look, what are names I believe about myself? What are things or names or things I believe about myself that are not from you that hurt me? And just sit te in it for a couple of minutes. I'm telling you, most humans they don't... I do this with people that aren't believers and they can tell you right away. "I know, I'm a failure, I'm ugly, I'm not smart, I'm lazy." They can list them, but we're asking the holy spirit to do it as believers. What are names I believe about myself, that the world called me, that my parents called me, that the enemy called me, that I actually believe are true? And just write them down. All we're doing is confession. One of my big ones is I'm a disappointment. I'm a disappointment. I'm going to get into this situation. We're going to fail. And I'm a disappointment. Those are the false identities.
Jamie Winship: Gideon says, "What am I? I'm the least of the tribes. I'm the youngest." Like, that's his false identity. And God's calling him something different. So just write down the false identities, just write them down. And then we rip out the piece of paper like this and we f it up. And then just fixing our eyes on Jesus, in our heart, and in our imagination, fixing our eyes on Jesus, who is the exact representation of the invisible God. Just imagine, here's all the names I call myself or the world calls me or my boss calls me that hurt me, they're false. Imagine handing those to Jesus. Just like, "Jesus, I give you these names." He died for these names. He died for these names to be on him. He became our shame. And just imagine, if I gave them to Jesus, "Jesus, what would you do with this piece of paper?" And just let the spirit lead you on what that looks like. Very beautiful.
Jamie Winship: But I'll tell you one thing he's not going to do is read it and give it back to you and go yell out that's true. He separates us from this, as far as the east is from the west. That's what he does. So it's gone. This is confession. It sweeps the house clean, and now you ready to receive from God. And then let him have those names. Let him go. And then ask the Lord, "Who do you say that I am? What do you call me?" And then on this beautiful, white piece of paper, write down the sense of what God calls you, how he sees you, beloved, son, daughter, peacemaker, whatever it is, write it down, write it down and put these in your heart. Seal these in your heart with the holy spirit. Lord, I receive who you say I am. And now I'm going to walk in this identity. And you will be doing that process the rest of your life. Yes.
Cathy Herholdt: Yeah. Let me just say, it's not always a word. Sometimes, at least for me, a couple times it was a word, but sometimes it was a picture. Like one time it was a treasure chest. And so I was like, "Oh, what is that? Oh, I'm treasured. I'm valuable. I'm priceless." Those were the things that popped into my mind. So it's not always a word. I just want to say that for the listeners, if they're waiting for a word, it might be, but, or several words, but yeah. So you were saying, this is a process that you can redo over and over again at any time, that you're struggling with something, not feeling good about things, fearful, any of those things, you can walk yourself through this process.
Jamie Winship: Yeah. And to teach it to younger kids is stunning and watching them, because the world's calling them names all the time and all of us. And so yeah, when you have negative emotion, you say, "Oh Lord, I feel really fearful now. What do I believe about myself that I'm inable, that you are not with me?" And always giving it to Christ and then asking the Lord, "What do you say?" Yeah. And thank you. It's an image. It can be a feeling. People just say, "I just feel peace." Peace, there it is. All right. Any of the senses. God communicates in so many beautiful ways to us, but it's a regular practice.
Jamie Winship: To discover the depth of who you are is an eternal journey. It allows you to look in the mirror and go, "Wow. I am actually really fearfully in wonderfully made." It's really experientially true. And not just a little verse I memorized, but it's really... And then God's e, "Okay, let's go live that out then." "Where?" "In a place where you don't think I am. Let's go." And it becomes this beautiful, horrifying, amazing, wonderful journey. And that's the walk with Christ.
Cathy Herholdt: Yeah. Yeah. Well, thank you for taking us into some of those places today. And really, I think helping the listeners to apply what you learned in those places to their lives, again, even if they're not ever able to go to a place like that. God can call you to a mission, right? In your own home, in your own neighborhood or your own country, you never know. Thank you for giving us a glimpse into what you saw God do in those places, what he's done in you. And some really practical tools for how we can live out our faith, how we can communicate that with others. Just really incredible.
Jamie Winship: Yeah. Thanks for having me. Appreciate it.
Cathy Herholdt: All right. Great. Well, Jamie Winship, thank you so much for being with us on the podcast today. It's been an awesome experience. I want to thank Jamie. If you want to learn more about Jamie's organization, you can visit Identity Exchange on the internet and take a look at what he does there. So thanks again, Jamie. Take care.
Jamie Winship: Thank you.
Cathy Herholdt: I want to thank our listeners for joining us today. I hope that your mind has been opened up a little bit, your heart has been touched through some of the stories that you have heard today. As I mentioned earlier, if you're curious about learning a little bit more about World Concern, about our work, beyond the end of the road, you can visit worldconcern.org/podcast to learn more. I want to thank CRISTA Ministries, World Concern's parent organization for making this podcast possible. And I also want to thank Casey Helmick and the whole team at Terra Firma for their production and editing and consulting expertise, for helping us bring these stories to life and bring them to you. Thanks again for joining us today. We look forward to more stories at the end of the road. Next time.