God's Spy in Iraq
What skills has God given you to use for His glory? Let me tell you how one courageous woman answered that question. I recently had the pleasure to speak with a remarkable Christian woman with a remarkable story on “The Eric Metaxas Show.” Her story was inspiring but, unfortunately, if I told it to you, I’d have to kill you. Just kidding! I can tell you about Michele Rigby Assad, whose new memoir is entitled “Breaking Cover: My Secret Life in the CIA and What It Taught Me about What’s Worth Fighting For.” You heard me correctly: CIA. Specifically, Rigby Assad spent ten years in the National Clandestine Service, the undercover arm of the Agency tasked with strengthening “national security and foreign policy objectives through the clandestine collection of human intelligence (HUMINT) and by conducting Covert Action as directed by the President.” In other words, Rigby Assad was an actual spy. Her specialty was counter-terrorism, specifically, Islamist-terrorism. As she has written, this was a far cry from what she imagined as a child in Florida. She wanted to be a “Rockette or a pediatrician.” Looking back on her life, she realizes God had other plans for her. Instead of dance moves or anatomy, she studied Arabic and Middle Eastern culture. Instead of working in Radio City Music Hall, she wound up in Iraq. And instead of asking children to say “ah,” she found herself interrogating suspected members of al Qaeda—which, unlike me, she can pronounce correctly. In what came as a surprise to those who repeatedly told her that, as woman, she would be less successful than male interrogators, she realized that not only could she do the job, she was actually good at it. And part of what made her effective was her faith. It taught her to see the people she was interrogating as human beings, which, along with her knowledge of their culture, helped her to establish a connection with them. She also found that her faith sometimes prompted an unexpected reaction: respect. They saw her as someone who had the courage to say what she believed in, even in a life-or-death situation. This prompted them to trust her. All of these experiences were training her for what God was calling her to do: assist Middle Eastern Christians, especially those threatened by ISIS and other radical Islamists. After leaving the CIA, she and her husband, Joseph, who had also worked at the CIA, were approached by a group trying to get Iraqi Christians who had fled ISIS to safety. As she told me, she and her husband spent months conducting diplomacy to see if they could find a country willing to take these refugees. Out of the dozens they approached, only one said “yes”: Slovakia. Now that they had a place to take these refugees, they had to get them out of Iraq. Easier said than done: ISIS’ front lines were less than 20 miles from the airport, and Russia was firing missiles across Iraqi air space into Syria. In a classic bit of understatement, Rigby Assad called the situation “stressful.” But they got them out. Looking back at her life, she sees how God weaved her experiences, which took her to forty-five countries and often placed her in harm’s way, and her “crazy skill sets” to allow him to manifest his power and purposes. The same is true for the rest of us. God is weaving our experiences and skills for his purposes and glory. All he asks is that we be open to his prompting. But don’t worry, you probably won’t find yourself in a war zone. God’s Spy in Iraq: Michele Rigby Assad’s “Crazy Skill Set” Read more of Michele Rigby Assad’s fascinating story here, and listen to Eric’s interview with her by clicking on the podcast link in our Resources section.