Friday, March 16, 2018
Philippians 1:14 And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.
1 Thessalonians 2:2 But though we had already suffered and been shamefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we had boldness in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in the midst of much conflict.
Today’s Scripture passages remind me of a documentary film about the deaths of five missionaries in the jungle of Ecuador in the mid-1950’s. Jim Elliot, Roger Youderian, Nate Saint, Pete Fleming, and Ed McCully were murdered by the Waoroni tribes people as they attempted to make initial contact with them to share the gospel of Jesus Christ. One of the most miraculous parts of the rest of the story is that two wives of the slain men went back to that tribe and began a mission work that resulted in the salvation of the very men who were responsible for the murders of their husbands. Today that tribe has put down their swords and has become a Christian society.
Most of us would probably stay far away from any group of people who had done something so hurtful to us. But these women, called by God and focused on His purpose, had the courage to step into harm’s way for the sake of the gospel. They chose to follow the example of their husbands, who were following the example of Jesus Christ, who willingly put Himself in harm’s way to bring God’s love to us.
I have been to the island of Mindanao in the Philippines four times, and I still desire to return to minister to the people there. But every time I begin to consider going I question the safety factor. Will I be able to be protected from the terrorists who have set up camps on that island? What are the possibilities of kidnapping and death? Is it safe to travel to the churches in the tribal areas? So, I send an email to a friend there and ask about the political situation. The potential for persecution is very real, and that has become a deterrent to me.
But this morning, as I sat on the couch and connected on Facebook with my Filipino and Indian friends who live in countries that are suppressing the Christian faith, I see pictures of people who live daily in the reality of persecution. I see the joy of the Lord in all their faces and I know the hardships they have endured for the sake of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I wonder why I feel I need to be safe. Is my desire to see my grandchildren grow more important to me than my desire to obey God if he asks me to go? What kind of an example am I setting for my family and for all of you if my need for security is greater than my heart for the unsaved, no matter who and where they are?
I do not have a clear sense of God’s leading to go anywhere right now, but today’s testimony of the Apostle Paul really hit me. Is my love for the Lord so strong that obedience to His purpose is not affected by any potential danger or suffering?
That’s a question for all of us to consider. It may not be that you are being called to go overseas to a dangerous country, but it is very probable that you see danger in speaking up for Christ to your neighbor or your boss. The fear is the same. The solution is also the same. Love God, then show people God’s love.
I believe it is time for all of us to step out of our comfort zones for the sake of accomplishing God’s purpose in the world. I believe the church of Jesus Christ needs to see some visible examples of people putting their faith on the line. I believe we need to see Christians living lives of sacrifice for the King rather than living for the safety of the kin. With the help of God, may we courageously and fearlessly speak the word of God without the fear of opposition wherever God sends us – across the sea or across the street.