October 31 I Saturday
“In the world you have trouble and suffering, but take courage—I have conquered the world.” —John 16:33 NET
Last year, a profound moment took place for me. I met a man, who migrated from his country of origin to Canada. Then God stirred in his heart to return to his home country, plant a church and be a missionary. He was obedient to the call of God and left Canada. Recently, there had been a change in government for this man’s country, where persecution started to break out amongst churches, pastoral leaders and Christians. This man, as well as other colleagues of his, were arrested on some trumped up charges. They were released on bail and this man returned to Canada with his trial still pending. When he goes back to the country he was serving in, he is going to face persecution and possible prison time. This situation weighed heavily on him. He could have remained in Canada, enjoyed his citizenship as a Canadian and worshipped freely. Yet, he told me, “What message would that send to the church I planted? If I am not willing to be persecuted and possibly imprisoned for my faith, what does this tell the rest of the church?”
What I found profound about this interaction is the passion this man has for Christ. Even when facing possible persecution and prison time, it did not dissuade him from the call of God on his life. The late Leonard Ravenhill once said, “The early church was married to poverty, prisons and persecutions. Today, the church is married to prosperity, personality, and popularity.”
In our day and generation, there is a dualistic Christian experience. In the west, it is one of comfort and security, while for our brothers and sisters in other parts of the world, it is dangerous and difficult. When I think of the experiences of the Apostle Paul in the early church and reflect on my own life, I wonder: What type of faith have I embraced? Have I embraced a courageous faith that takes risks and does not fear suffering? Or have I settled for a safe and comfortable faith, one that really has my own indulgence at the center of it?
When we study the Gospels, Jesus did anything but make it easy for people to follow Him. Jesus warned His early followers that persecution, imprisonment and hardship was not an option; it was a certainty. As we survey the global church, persecution, imprisonment and hardship are a daily reality for our brothers and sisters in other parts of the world. As they embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ, they are embracing suffering. May we never take our faith for granted, knowing there are others in this world who are willing to endure everything to follow Christ.
Prayer: Dear Jesus, thank You for the sobering reminder of brothers and sisters in other parts of the world who are suffering as they choose to follow You. Give me a courageous faith that is willing to endure hardship.