Fighting Fear (Ulf Ekman)

Without having an open mind you never get anywhere in life. Then most things remain closed and inaccessible. You do not pray, you do not seek, you do not knock and nothing seems to be open. Then suddenly, unexpectedly, everything seems to be a threat, unpleasant or unpleasing.

But then, it is not possible to have an open mind unless you deal with various kinds of fear and phobia in your life. Fear is perhaps one of humankind’s greatest enemies. It holds us in its grip and hinders us from growing into the real potentiality God has for us. Faith, confidence, trust always means taking risks. Things can go wrong. You can miss it. Fear of taking risks is something you have to deal with. No risk – no growth, no open doors, no adventures.

I remember when I stood in the queue outside the American Embassy in 1981 waiting to get a study visa so I could travel to the USA with my family and do a year at Bible school there. Behind me stood someone I knew who was talking the whole time about how impossible it was because I did not have any approval on paper from any school there. So, I might as well go home. If I had done that, dejectedly left the embassy and gone home, I would have missed out on a 25-year long adventure. I did not get a study visa, just a normal tourist visa. But we had prayed and knew that the Lord was exhorting us to go. So we sold our house, took our children and went anyway.

On the plane, my head was spinning and I could see myself going back again without having even gone in – totally crushed. Then I made a decision again, and I held fast to the word from God and the Bible verse He gave me. There was some to-ing and fro-ing at customs in New York, and they sent us to an official in another department. I showed him an ordinary letter I had received from a pastor, which in quite vague and general terms was welcoming us to visit his church some time. And suddenly, the official changed his mind and gave us a 6-month visa, there and then. We were in.

At one of the first meetings I visited there was an elderly couple who were preaching together – the man in a loud suit and white shoes, the woman in a pink dress with unbelievable bows on. I was so critical, Swedish as I was. And immediately I felt the Lord correcting me and showing me how biased, negative, narrow-minded and through-and-through Swedish I was being. I wanted to have it just the way I liked it. There and then I knew I had to change and so I decided to have an open mind and to be led neither by fear nor by prejudice. I have benefited a lot from that ever since.

A year in a totally different and truly faith-filled atmosphere, very much characterised by the activity of the Spirit and His word really did the trick in my life. It created in me an atmosphere of positive faith, a counterbalance against the negativisms I was previously used to. Now, I have of course not been totally perfect in keeping to that (Phew!), but anyway, it has been an enormous help for me in revealing the resistance, suspicion and negativism in my own life over the years. It has also continued to open many doors, develop new acquaintances and uncover hidden treasure in areas I would otherwise normally have avoided and gone past. It has truly made life richer and more fun, having an open and positive mindset. It does not mean that you do not have clear principles or are able to and do draw boundaries, since there are such things which are objectively right or wrong. But it does mean that one’s first reaction to something is not always negative, suspicious or condemnatory. So much more fun!

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Tree of Life Church

We are a growing network of growing churches, with services weekly in Dagenham, Guildford, Watford, Croydon, Brentwood and Dorset. We are also planting churches in Cambridge, Suffolk, West Midlands and Hemel. Find out more at, and

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