Tuesday, May 2
“Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12).
Yesterday (as I mentioned in my previous post “Persecution”) Fred and I spent time with some pastors from countries in Central Asia which experience real persecution. These small churches are feeding the poor, helping drug addicts to be rehabilitated, and truly displaying and proclaiming our Lord Jesus Christ. Yet the government harasses them. Frequently officials come to the church looking for something to object to, making life difficult for them. But the Gospel is flourishing!
They take seriously the words of Jesus that they are to “let your light shine before others.” As we interacted and prayed with them, they wanted us to be very clear that they are not discouraged, they don’t want our pity, but they rejoice in the hope of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. One pastor was thrown out of one country and told never to come back. Yet, today he is preaching the Gospel in another country in Central Asia and equipping others for the vital ministry of reaching these neglected countries with the hope of the Gospel. Under the Soviet Union these countries became devastatingly poor, and many of them still are. Yet, in the middle of the poverty they are rich in Christ and shine for Him.
On Sunday I had preached “Be Strong and Courageous” using the example of Joshua and others in the Old Testament. But I realized this is a message I need for myself and my fellow believers in the west. Many of these believers here are strong in the Lord. And they show real courage. In spite of the persecution they continue to obey our Lord Jesus to go and make disciples of all the nations. It reminds me of the words at the end of Hebrews 11 as the writer describes the tremendous persecution of the people of God. He writes “of whom the world was not worthy” (Hebrews 11:38).