It’s lunch time. Normally, I would be in the cafeteria during this time. Instead I’m eating mac n cheese in my quad. I had to come here today because I needed to take some time to process what I’ve been hearing for the last day and a half. You see, our speaker has been sharing with us about the persecuted church. The man who is teaching us has spent hundreds of hours interviewing nearly 600 believers who have lived through significant persecution because of their faith. We’ve heard some of their stories and I’ve been overwhelmed by their testimonies. That’s heavy stuff.
We’ve also been learning about ways to be effective in cultures where the church is persecuted- some dos and do nots. He has led us in learning about the characteristics of those who walk victoriously through persecution. It’s good information to have.
I’ve come to a realization that I had somehow missed during my long tenure in the American church and I’m not sure that I like it. You see, if you examine the church planting movements in Acts, you realize that persecution is normal. Imprisonment, stoning, angry mobs, these were the norm. I’m not sure where the American church came up with the idea that persecution is abnormal, but that’s what we believe. I guess the question I’ve been asking myself the last couple of days is, why aren’t we being persecuted here in America? The only thing that I can come up with is that we aren’t moving and telling and ministering to those who don’t know in such a way that persecution is even necessary. Satan is using the tools and of embarrassment and fear so effectively, that he’s not having to resort to imprisonment or death. Wow.
God has used this time to really challenge my thinking and to recognize that so much of what I believe is so upside down. One thing that has really affected me is the speaker’s own story. This man and his wife buried one of their own children in Africa. This child died of an asthma attack. Do you hear me? An ASTHMA attack, for crying out loud! They were in Africa... because that’s where God called them and that’s where God called their son. I don’t know if American medical care would have made a difference at all, but I wonder if their minds have ever gone there. I wonder if they’ve wrestled with that?
Now remember, I’m the momma of 2 asthmatic children. Two asthmatic children who have peanut allergies. And, God has called my family to one of the top peanut producing countries in the world. Needless to say, I’ve spent the past 24 hours in a sort of come to Jesus meeting. Because all along, after praying and fasting and feeling confident that God has called us to go where we’re going, I have fought off the temptation to worry about these 2 children by telling myself that if God calls us there, he’ll protect out children. He loves our children more than I do and I can trust him with them. And the bottom line is, that last night, when everything settled down and it was just me and God, I had to ask myself a difficult question. What if God, in his infinite wisdom, chose to let one of my children perish in Africa, regardless of my obedience to him. Heaven forbid, but what if?
And then I began to ask myself these questions...Do I believe that God’s word is true. Do I believe that Matthew 28 is really a command? Do I believe that Jesus really was telling the truth when he said that he is the only way to the Father. Do I really long to see a multitude from every language, people, tribe, and nation knowing and worshipping our Lord Jesus Christ? Do I believe that to live is Christ and to die is gain, just as the Apostle Paul said? And, when I asked myself these questions, I had to answer a resounding yes to every one of them. So, that leads me to only one appropriate response and that, my friends, is obedience.
Then the next set of questions came. What if, it really happened? Would I be able to walk through another day? What if I had to make a phone call back to the states and tell my parents, my church, the families of my children’s friends that the inconceivable had happened. Would I ever be able to get through the condemnation? Would the guilt, the anger, the sorrow be more powerful than my call to lostness? Overwhelming questions for a frail little human like me.
Here is where I have settled. I don’t know. I can’t know. Hopefully I’ll never HAVE to know what that sort of loss would do in my life. But, I do know this. God’s grace is sufficient. Just as He has given me the grace, strength, courage, and wisdom to shoulder everything he’s called me to as of today, he will give me the grace, strength, courage, and wisdom that I need for all of my tomorrows. He’ll give it to me, only when I need it, not a moment before then.
Please understand, I have no intention of endangering my children. I have no desire to be a martyr or a widow. But, I do desire to be obedient and in that obedience I have to face the reality that God isn’t conventional. He doesn’t always work in the way that the my privileged, western, democracy oriented mind thinks that he should. It’s a lot to think about, but it’s a reality I needed to think through and wrestle with.