THE CROSS - SUFFERING
“I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” John 17:23
Persecution, pressure and suffering also brings about a unity that honours God. Burma is the model to which I was first exposed. Missionaries were all expelled in 1966. My first visit was in the early 1970’s. The church was a small minority in a dominant Buddhist society with a secular socialist government. On Sunday morning, I was asked to speak and break bread with the Brethren believers, in the afternoon share with the Baptists and in the evening speak at the Pentecostal church. No one asked me my denomination. I was simply a “Brother in Christ” and represented an evangelical radio organization, FEBC.
I found this unity so refreshing. And praise the Lord I have discovered it in other parts of our world, most often outside of North America. The closest geographic location is on the island of Cuba. What a joy to be with Baptist and Pentecostal pastors together who regularly spend hours on their knees before God with one another. How refreshing to attend youth evangelism meetings with a variety of denominations represented in the audience and speakers. Is there any wonder why revival continues to sweep through the island today?
Believers in North Korea's underground church recite five unifying principles, along with the Lord's Prayer, at their secret gatherings. The special place of suffering in the spiritual life of this church is striking:
- Our persecution and suffering are our joy and honor.
- We want to accept ridicule, scorn and disadvantages with joy in Jesus' name.
- As Christians, we want to wipe others' tears away and comfort the suffering.
- We want to be ready to risk our life because of our love for our neighbor, so that they also become Christians.
- We want to live our lives according to the standards set in God's Word.
Ugandan pastor, Kefa Sempangi, shares that under the intense persecution of Idi Amin, the Holy Spirit united the hearts of Uganda’s church leaders. The emphasis became loving one another and rejecting the earlier focus on differences. He writes, “But now we heard God’s call to live broken lives before one another. We were not to build our fellowship on the foundation of baptism, tongues or liturgy. We were to build on the reconciling blood of Jesus Christ.”
Today I will rejoice in God’s plan and God’s will: that His children walk together in unity.
Lord, may my love for brothers and sisters today, and the resulting unity, show the world that You sent Jesus.
STANDING STRONG THROUGH THE STORM (SSTS) -A daily devotional message by Paul Estabrooks
© 2010 Open Doors International. Used by permission
“When the storm has swept by, the wicked are gone, but the righteous stand firm forever.” Proverbs 10:25
Right now millions of Christians face persecution because of their faith in Christ. Register to receive the Open Doors USA Weekly Prayer Alert email. Join alongside thousands of others praying for our brothers and sisters worldwide to stand strong in the midst of their struggles. Also learn more about countries where the persecution of Christians is most severe by visiting the Open Doors website today.