It is 2003 and Katharine Gun works for British Intelligence, translating secret documents. When she comes across a memo about blackmailing small UN states to vote for the UK-US invasion of Iraq she wonders what to do. She cannot just pretend she has not seen this. It plays on her mind, and eventually, she secretly prints off a copy and passes it onto a friend who passes it to a journalist at the Observer newspaper. As a result Katharine is forced to admit she passed on the document and in doing so broke the Official Secrets Act.
Katharine did what she did, not to betray her country, but to protect lives, because she sensed it was the right thing to do. Even though she put herself at great risk.
Peter Harris, co-founder of A Rocha, writes this in his book Under the Bright Wings: ‘We carry on working, not because of a guarantee of success, or a belief that we will change the world, but because it is right to do what we do.’
That’s a challenge isn’t it. To do the right thing. I’d rather keep my head down. Avoid trouble. Be liked by everyone. Not rock the boat too much. In the Old Testament, in his book, Daniel had to make hard choices about what is right. He lived in an oppressive country, and he had corrupt enemies who were willing to deceive others to get their own way. Most of the time he walked a delicate tightrope, being faithful to his beliefs and also serving the king. But when (in chapter 6) his enemies laid a trap and forced him to choose – he chose his God. Refused to bow to their pressure. And so we have the famous story of Daniel in the lion’s den. Often told as a children’s story, yet in reality a very adult tale indeed. A man laying his life on the line, like Katharine Gun, for truth and justice. I won’t tell you what happens to Katharine, but Daniel survives. A miracle happens and God looks after him. I’ve sometimes joked that the lions became overnight vegetarians. Whatever happened Daniel’s faithfulness spoke volumes to the king, who decreed that others should follow the way Daniel was living. The Bible is chock full of people who showed the same kind of courage and faithfulness. Queen Esther for example. Who knows how many folks around the world are having to choose the hard roads, standing up for what is true and right, even now as I write and you read this, but thank God for their courage and faithfulness, they live as signs of hope to the rest of the world.