I am reading a very good book entitled Killing Christians by Tom Doyle. I would highly recommend it. It tells a series of stories about real people all around the world who endure unimaginable circumstances and yet still serve the Lord with amazing strength and joy.
Chapter two features persecuted Christians in Syria and it has been rolling around in my mind for days. Apparently, towards the beginning of the conflict, ten church leaders gathered secretly at 2am to discuss their situation. One of the leaders said, “If we don’t leave with our families soon, I’m not sure we will ever get out alive.” He told the story of a family who had recently been threatened and concluded, “I have to wonder if this is really the place for us to raise our children. We must pray for God’s direction. I call for a week of fasting.”
The men agreed that there was no shame in a decision to take their families and leave the country. But they all were to pray fervently and then either leave as fast as they could or gather again in a week’s time.
A week later, twenty-five men gathered in that same secret place. The original ten had returned, along with fifteen new disciples. They all agreed that the Lord had led them to remain in Syria as the outward expression of God’s love and care for the Syrian people. They were committed to being His light in a very dark place. They made that decision for themselves and their families…knowing full well the very likely consequences.
And their resolve was so significant that they took one more step. They pooled their money so they could buy a plot of land. Doyle remarks, “It would be the graveyard in which they would bury each other.”
You talk about a perspective giver.
I work in a wonderful Christian environment. We individually and corporately have a high level of commitment to Christ. But we have never pooled our money so we could buy some south county land as a community cemetery. We just do not fear for our lives. Our worst persecution is a bit of disdain perhaps.
So this week is an excellent time to be reminded about the cost others pay to serve our Savior. Some serious reflection can help us adjust our perspective. That commute we complain about, that neighbor that irritates us and that relatively empty checkbook that frustrates us. All of the grumbling needs to be brought into perspective.
Instead of our trivial complaints, let’s pray for their safety. Let’s pray for their strength and for their families. Let’s ask the Lord to bless them with His grace.
“Lord, thank you for my family’s safety. I am grateful for your mercy. Please protect my brothers and sisters around the world that serve you with so much courage. May I learn from them.” Amen.