Inspiring Story: How Far Will You Go?
I've been thinking a lot lately about all the missionary "greats," of late, such as Nate Saint and Amy Carmichael, to name a few. All of these paid a high price for obeying God, and this reminded me of some other, perhaps less heard of, Christians who are missionaries to their own countries. I am referring to those persecuted Christians who lay down their lives for Christ every single day. They suffer because they choose to follow Christ rather than obey the world and its customs. Most of these Christians live in countries where religions other than Christianity are allowed, and converting from these "state" religions to Christianity is strictly forbidden. Converting could mean imprisonment, horrendous torture (both mental and physical), or worse -- maybe even death. They are pressured to renounce their faith; but how can they deny the One who paid the ultimate price by dying for them? They are very daring Christians, but they "know whom [they] have believed," therefore, they press on. So for today's inspiring story, I'd like to post a few of their quotes for pondering (while I work on next week's Inspiring Story -- sorry for the delay). Each one is a challenge to us "spoiled" Americans to get off our easy chairs and do something for God. You can't steer a car that isn't moving; likewise, God can't steer us if we aren't willing to move. As you read these words from these Christians who have given their all for Christ, my prayer is that we all would take on the attitudes of these courageous Christians...
"We have learned that suffering is not the worst thing that can happen to you. Disobedience to God is the worst thing." ~ Tran Mai, Vietnamese Pastor “My faith is my life. I could never deny it. As the apostle Paul wrote to Timothy, ‘I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that He is able to keep what I have entrusted to Him.' ... When we walk in the will of God, we are ever in His watch. We become responsible for the opportunities given us at any moment, wherever we may be, no matter who hears us. We can always know the Lord is watching over us and the Holy Spirit is using us. Never forget my friend, we are God’s fellow workers!” ~ Samuel Lamb, Chinese Pastor (from Bold As a Lamb, pages 74-75, 97). "What I have gone through is little compared to Jesus. I can never go away from Jesus." ~ Gulnaz, Pakistan "I have a big burden to reach others around us. God gave us a vision to do that... We will never stop, whatever the circumstances." ~ Believer in Iraq "Reflecting on my life since I trusted Jesus, I have wondered why I had to face persecution. Yet God has used my experiences to bring people to faith in His Son.... I never wanted the beatings, mockings, and rejection, But if this is what it takes to wake a sleeping world that is hopelessly traveling toward a Christless eternity, then so be it. If my life needs to be an example of victory through suffering, I will gladly submit to God's will. For I am fully aware that the greatest love ever demonstrated to humankind came through the greatest suffering ever endured by a man. It is by His stripes that we are healed," ~ Tai, Cambodia (from The Costly Call 2, pages 125-126)
For these courageous Christians, there is no fear of what might happen to them if they obey Christ; instead they are afraid of the consequences of disobeying Him, so they go out and preach the Gospel to every creature, regardless of the persecution they suffer for doing so. And through all of it, they never once deny Christ! This presents quite a challenge to us today. Any ordinary person can do extraordinary things for God. However, God can only use those who are willing and obedient; it's not enough to just be willing to do whatever God wants; we must be obedient and take that step that He is asking us to take. But we live in a world where fear lurks at every corner. We allow fear to control our lives; we are so afraid to step out of our comfort zones and do the will of God, that we just sit back and do nothing. But how are people going to hear if we don't tell them? These Christians say that Jesus is everything to them, and if they have to endure the most horrendous torture for someone's salvation, they will gladly do it! Jim Elliot once said, "They're not ready to go to heaven; we are." Are we willing to do the same for the One who gave Himself for us that we might live? We often think that persecution is limited to countries far away from our comfortable America, but in reality, the Bible says, "ALL those who desire to live Godly in Christ will suffer persecution." Will we be ready for this? Will we be able to endure? How will we react -- what will we say and what will we do? This is not meant to depress anyone; rather, I challenge my readers to give their all to God like all the "greats" have done and like these Christians are doing. Jim Elliot said, "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." That is real Christianity in action -- when we serve Christ with our whole lives no matter how high the cost. Romans 10:1 reads, "Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved..." Philippians 3:8 says,"Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ..."
Today's Inspiring Story is partially inspired by As In a Mirror.