An Interview With Karen Eubank
In Volume 1 we introduced you to Dave Eubank, a former Special Forces Ranger who moved his family to Burma to train oppressed Burmese people in survival and military tactics. The Eubanks—kids included—have since traveled to other war zones in order to stand by the vulnerable and protect their brothers and sisters—even to the point of laying down their own lives. Most recently in Mosul, Dave made headlines for running through gunfire to rescue a toddler.
Karen Eubank isn’t usually on the front lines, yet she embodies a kind of bravery most could dig for all their life and never find. She says the verse that has guided her family through danger and sacrifice is Matthew 10:28: “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.” That’s how Karen and Dave lead their children: by teaching them not to fear death but instead to pursue life for their souls, often in places of war and oppression. Below, Karen shares their family’s guiding values.
What are some values you raise your family by?
There are things God put in front of me at a time when I wondered, “What am I doing?” and, “How is this life gonna work?” and, “How do I answer for myself, taking my kids into these crazy, seemingly risky places?” And I remember [God] said, “There are four things that I am giving you that you cannot give in the same way on your own.”
When we live with our friends in Burma, they have a level of generosity that I didn’t know about, which was, “Come in, eat my food. Whatever I have and you need, you can have it.” They have very little, but they’re so generous with everything they have. Their greeting whenever they pass by is, Ame, ame (“Eat with me, eat with me.”) Very different from “How are you doing?” I thought, wow, that’s a great thing to put into my kids.
When you pass through these rural areas, it’s very much an open door. Often there isn’t even a door. I had a great childhood with generous Christian parents, but we just didn’t live at that level of generosity at all. You don’t just welcome people into your front door all the time. I thought, if I put my kids in this environment, they’ll learn something I didn’t even know.
I was raised in Southern California, and we don’t specialize in simplicity. I realized this is a really worthwhile endeavor for me to learn as a 30-year-old, for my kids to learn as small kids—you just don’t need stuff. You take a bath in the river, you just take what you need to go down there. You hunt for your food, eat what you can find, and if you can’t find it, don’t search the world to get it. If fruit is out of season, it’s out of season. Really it’s a mindset. And we see it illustrated in the lives of people we visit. They just have basic things, three or four outfits and that’s it. If you’re living out of a backpack, you really don’t want that much more, because you don’t want to carry it. When we take some of our kids from villages to a store, they just look around and it’s not useful to them. Living simply is a blessing that is harder work for me than anyone else in the family.
Through our training and the vision that Dave has had, and the lives that these young rangers have already illustrated, I define compassion as laying down your life for somebody. So you offer it. And when [the rangers] come to the training, they intend to be in a position where they may have to lay their life down, or they’re going to the frontline knowing that is a possibility, but they want to be there. They’re willing to sacrifice like that. When you have a whole camp of people with that expectation, it’s kind of a natural thing…this is what we do. You’re surrounded by people who have that as a standard. Now, God doesn’t take it from you all the time. We’ve experienced lots of years of life and fullness, but [we have an] expectation of, “If I have to, I will.”
I knew I wanted to do this as a family, but I don’t always know why. I think God’s given me [these four core values] to say, “This is more than you could give your kids in any other setting. You don’t even know enough about this to teach them these things.”
I’ve always thought, I want to give my children as much eternal stuff as possible. Because you just don’t know their last day. I want to pour into them so that if I go to sleep that night and don’t wake up, I will have done as much as I can do to bring them close to God.
I’m not GI Jane. I’m not Ms. Ranger. I’ve never thought of myself in that position, but I’ve always wanted to be alongside Dave. I thought, I’ll just figure out how to do it. [And] I see the soul stuff in the work that we’re doing. It’s greater than the personal protection stuff. We’ve had times of scary personal protection, when we’re not sure if it’s going to work out. But even in that situation, it’s confirmed that this is the way to walk, even not knowing the ending.