Suffering for Glory

November 5, 2016

What would you do if you no longer could share your faith or convictions about life and say the name Jesus in public? Does this consideration ever enter into your thoughts? Would you continue to share your faith IF the government told you not to? Would you trust that God may actually be building his kingdom through suffering and persecution?
I’m reading a book called “The Insanity of God” by Nik Ripken a Southern Baptist missionary who in the 1990’s moves to Somalia as a missionary in hopes of relieving suffering while bringing the gospel of Jesus Christ to many of the war torn areas. In the midst of suffering and hardship he starts to wonder IF God is there when others suffer and there is no change or relief in sight. It leads him on a journey to speak to over 600 believers in 60+ countries to see if God can preserve faith in those who suffer in unfathomable ways. He wonders if faith can prosper in hardship and eventually comes to see that it can in those who do.
Daniel Akin the President of Southeastern Baptist theological Seminary says of the book “you will weep at the anemic and tepid ‘Christianity’ of the American Church, exposed for the shameful counterfeit it too often is”. I would love to see our hearts broken, but also revived as we see Gods people, our brothers and sisters, stand for Jesus in circumstances beyond belief.
Recently the book has been turned into a movie which is inspiring many others to persevere and continue through the hardships and difficulties that life can and does throw at all of us.
The book of James reminds us that tribulation matures a Christian who views it though a right lens— 2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing (James 1:2-4).

This scriptural reminders challenge you and I to stand firm in the midst of mocking and ridiculing. We can stand and persevere because in the midst of a war torn, broken, sinful, world God sent Jesus to suffer and die in our place so that our sins could be forgiven and grace would be imparted so that we could become children of God (John 1:12).
I’ll share one story from the book. There were Pastors in Russia who had organized house churches (gatherings in homes) in the 1950’s but the people in these home groups had never experienced the larger biblical Kingdom emphasis to take and share the gospel to the ends of the earth (Matthew 28:18-20). A kingdom mindset emphasizes that the gospel should not be contained in a local church but it is to be shared throughout the earth. Does your church have a kingdom mindset? It should!
These three leading Pastors chose to train the present young people in their congregations to take the gospel outside their local settings and in order to see what that looked like, they chose to do a conference and invite 700 young people.
The Pastors new that a gathering of 700 people would not escape the knowledge of the government and would cause their own imprisonment. The three Pastors KNEW that they would go to jail if they had this gathering. What blew me away was that these Pastors had determined to stand for the name of Jesus and suffer so that others would get a better picture of kingdom work.
Each young person who was invited and gathered at the conference had to reveal how much bible knowledge they had in spite of the fact none of them had ever owned a bible. They would gather in small groups and see how much of the four gospels they could reconstruct accurately. At the end of the conference the combined efforts of all the small groups had recreated the four gospels with ONLY 12 minor mistakes. They also had also recreated the lyrics of over 1000 songs from memory. YES from memory. Do you think they took their bibles seriously?
This is how the bible is able to thrive and sustain people in the midst of oppression. People have to take the word of God seriously, memorize it and remain faithful to God’s word. Not just hearing it but living it out, made the word of God real and profitable.
In the United States we have such an indifference to Gods word. We put it on par with the tabloids. We choose alternative activities over gathering with our brothers and sisters. We fail to use the bible in our daily lives. We allow the pursuit of prosperity to dull Gods call to be missionaries in our own communities. Ultimately when trials come many crumble.
What holds you together when your faith is challenged? Is it the word of God? My faith is encouraged on account of reading of the perseverance of those who have suffered for their faith. Suffering promotes blessing. Our church is going to show the movie form of the book.
On November 13th, I invite you to come out to our church Redemption Fellowship Church of Fall River on 385 Pleasant Street in Fall River, next Sunday night from 7-8:30pm and watch this simulcast movie. It has been shown in only select theatres around the country and will be offered for one night here in Fall River. If you have any questions go to www.redemptionfellowship.net
I believe if you step in that night, your life and faith might be challenged BUT changed. Many will walk away changed by the power of God moving in the midst of intense suffering. Yes, you will see God is able to hold others up in the difficulties that adversary sent them. God can hold you up. Come see God work in hardship and be inspired!