Mark 8:38—For whoever is ashamed of Me and of My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.
Writing under an alias, Nik Ripken wrote an amazing book entitled The Insanity of God. As a covert missionary in Somaliland, Nik failed to reach Somalis with the gospel. Even the few believers he celebrated communion with were martyred by radical Muslims. When his son Tim died in Kenya, the Ripkens returned home spiritually depleted and emotionally exhausted. Then the story really got interesting. Rather than be angry with God, Nik and his wife Ruth were captured by a single thought:
"Surely, wherever believers have suffered, and still suffer, for their faith, we could find wise and faithful people who would be willing to share their spiritual survival strategies and other faith lessons learned from the hardship they have faced. Perhaps their . . . counsel would help us. And maybe their wisdom could help other believers like us minister more effectively in impossible places such as Somaliland."
The rest of the book chronicles Nik’s interviews with persecuted Christians throughout the world. His stories are amazing. Some of the conclusions he shares are deeply convicting.
· We appear to forget that Jesus promised that just as the world would reject Him so it would reject His faithful followers.
· Chinese believers consider miraculous not that they overcome torture and thrive as an exploding underground church but that we in America have such great freedom, unlimited access to Scripture, Christian schools and open fellowship.
· Nik seldom finds a mature believer living under persecution who asks prayer for persecution to end. Their request is to remain faithful and obedient through their suffering.
· “Persecution stops immediately where there is no faith and where there is no witness. Persecution is caused when people find Jesus and refuse to keep Him to themselves.”
· Believers everywhere are equally free to share Jesus—it isn’t a matter of political freedom, it is simply a matter of obedience. The cost may be different in other lands but it is “always” possible to comply with Jesus’ call to make disciples.
· “The stronger the persecution, the more significant the spiritual vitality of the believers. . . Before we can grasp the full meaning of the Resurrection, we first have to witness or experience crucifixion.”
· Russian believer Stoyan said to Nik, “I took great joy that I was suffering in my country, so that you could be free to witness in your country.”
· “Believers who do not share their faith aid and abet Satan’s ultimate goal of denying others access to Jesus. Our silence makes us accomplices.”
Notice in America today it is popular and common to depict Christians as backward or morons. To openly share Christ evokes scorn. Yet it is considered taboo to ridicule other religions. This ought to encourage us! We are on the right path! Realize that the comfort and security that we momentarily may experience by our silence is at great cost to our faith. Nik’s descriptions of the brutal suffering our brothers and sisters in oppressive lands endure made me cry. Yet I was inspired by the miracles they experience that match Biblical accounts and by the intimacy they enjoy with God with whom they walk daily. So, if we are not suffering, is it also likely that we are not sharing? And really, why would we be afraid?
©2013 Daniel York ARR. Reveration is the weekly devotional ministry of First Cause. If you would like to receive these devotionals go to www.firstcause.org and click on the “Click here to receive weekly devotionals” box. Unlimited permission to copy this devotional without altering text or profiteering is allowed subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.
Ecclesiastes 12:10-The Teacher sought to find delightful sayings and to accurately write words of truth. (Holman CSB)