Feb 23, 2009

Endure...Living Martyrs

Testimonies of Endurance and Faith For Today's Church ... ENDURE.... Nigerian evangelicals living under the constant threat and weight of Shari'a law. ENDURE... Small word, that says so much about the life of a living martyr...one who lives a lifetime of abuse, discriminacion, arrests, imprisonment, and torture, and then starting all over again. Like Pastor Lamb in China who in his long life as a house church leader has been imprisoned more then 19 times by the Chinese government. Just when he thought he could bear no more, and one more imprisonment would break him, the Lord spoke to his heart and said, "My grace is sufficient for thee!" ENDURE... Small word, but rich to the suffering that know it brings a promise of recompense at the end of the journey, having endured and finished the race. After 20 years of imprisonment in the harsh Cuban system, tortured and abused, Noble Alexander was kept several additional years by the Cuban government just to keep him unbalanced and unsure of his fate. He baptized more than 300 prisoners in different prisons while the guards were looking in another direction, many times using the hot dishwashing water in which to dunk them! ENDURE... "Tear me to pieces and rip my soul from my body, but you will never force that detestable word of denial from my mouth. " Michael Nakashima, had boiling water poured over his head and body until he died in Japan on Christmas Day, 1628. ENDURE... Without wavering let us hold tight to the hope we say we have, for God can be trusted to keep His promise. Hebrews 10:23

Feb 18, 2009

Starting All Over Again...Beginning a new Year

Leaving All Behind and Starting Over Again...Or Fighting It Out??? Meet Brother Miguel. You may find it hard to believe, that this man sitting so happily with this bunch of well cared for kids, in the 90's had to make the hardest decision of his life...stay in the communitiy and fight for his ancestral lands, or collect his small flock of Tzotzil Indigenas and leave all behind to protect their lives, and avoid possible bloodshed. He had gone through the battle for several years, tolerating the insults, the threats, and abuses that the traditionalist Catholics had showered on him and his people. Thinking about the 40,000 that had been expelled from Chamula, and the many that had been martyred for the gospel he was torn. Finally, he decided that they would leave their fertile lands behind and start over. They left with what they could gather on their backs, and arrived in Ocosingo, where the government facilitated new lands on the side of a rocky mountain. For a year or so they diid without, living primitively and on the bare minimum. They had a wonderful Pastor to encourage and disciple them, and support from an American ministry from Texas. Off to work they went, to build houses, a church, and start up new Artesan businesses. They were willing to sacrifice everything...and the Lord has blessed them.
They still go back to their former community... to share in secret the gospel that means so much to them. They sometimes get caught and are jailed for 3 days and fined 3 days work for daring to preach a Biblical gospel. He has a wonderful testimony, and has been a blessing to those he leads, and to those of us who have heard their testimony. He continues to serve in evangelizing the lost, and defending those who choose to follow Christ at all costs. Others have stayed behind, to fight inside their communities for the right to express their evangelical faith...some of them giving their lives for the cause... What would you have done??
When Gary Lane from CBN/CWN and I went to interview Miguel, we were faced with a distinctive kind of response to the aggressive persecution of believers in Chiapas. In the Ocosingo region, the pastors have waged their battle in a more passive manner, with patience,and developing relations where possible in the communities where the gospel has not been welcome. In other regions where the aggression is more violent, choices may not have been possible, or the church may have decided to take a legal stand and file a complaint with the Mexican government.
I'm using Miguel's testimony as an example of how it is possible to start over again, leaving behind the known and treasured, to go into a less certain future, but accompanied by the Lord. Maybe it's one of the best things I can offer at a time when so much is uncertain because of the economic crisis that will touch all of us. It's never too late to start anew...coming to know Christ as Lord and Saviour teaches us that. He will accompany us through the difficult times and give us the strength and grace to come through it all, thinking and praising Him for His love and mercy.
Mathew 19:29