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Day 25

13) Terry & Amy: Enduring in the Face of Struggle

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In this, Episode 13 of the MoreDisciples Podcast, Allan and I listen to clips from a recent talk with Terry & Amy, who, in the midst of launching a very effective start-up to what appears to be a real disciple making movement, are “Enduring in the Face of Struggle” in Africa.

Discipleship Through the Eyes of Youth: Day 25

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I really liked the video for today and how Curtis talked about discussing persecution with new believers before they are baptized. Often times I feel like persecution gets swept under the rug and no one really wants to talk about it as a reality. We like to think of persecution as something that may happen if we follow Christ, but we may also be able to avoid if we’re lucky. But if you’re living a life that follows Christ you are among spiritual warfare and it’s not a maybe, you will be persecuted. How we as Christians handle this persecution is a chance for us to display Christ. When someone faces persecutions and trials with grace and joy people begin to notice.

My church did a series over persecution a few months ago and it talked about the various types of persecution from societal marginalization all the way to life threatening persecution. Fortunately here in the U.S. we have freedom to worship Christ and rarely is someone’s life threatened for their beliefs, but we should be passionately lifting up in prayer our brothers and sisters in Christ who are putting their lives on the line in high persecution countries. We are called to carry one another’s burdens together. And although as an American my life may not be threatened, I get left out, avoided, not asked for my opinion because people don’t want to know what I think or believe, I’m viewed as weak or closed minded and I have to be okay with that. Persecution hurts, it’s hard. But, I know that Christ is with me and will give me the strength to come out on the other side. I have to choose to trust him and face the persecution with grace and know that my faith in Christ will only grow stronger through the trials. One of the verses that always comes to mind when I think about persecution is…

“Consider it pure joy my brothers whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.”
James 1:2

Day 25 – Persevering through Persecution

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How important is training concerning the inevitable persecution that befalls a believer?  II Cor 4:9a says, we are “persecuted, but not abandoned.”  Have you ever witnessed someone who becomes bitter at God because of persecution.  They believe they’ve been abandoned by God.  They may say, “Why is God doing this to me?”  Conversely, Tina was a new Christian.  She is the youngest of four children, and the only Christian in her family.  Seven years after their father had passed away, the four adult children were tasked with removing their father’s bones from a rented tomb.  The custodian of the cemetery was on hand to make sure all the bones were removed and accounted for.  When the bones were removed, everyone was shocked to discover that a finger bone was missing.  One-by-one, in the sub-tropical heat, the four of them had the unenviable task of crawling into the small mausoleum in search of the finger bone.  It could not be found, and the custodian was loosing patience.  Tina, bowed her head to pray, and was immediately attacked by the three older siblings.  “How dare you insult our father by bringing your new faith here!”  Her oldest brother struck her.  Undaunted by these attacks, she prayed outloud.  “Lord, we do not need my father’s finger bone, but so my siblings will know that you answer prayer, please show me now where the missing bone is?”  Later, she said, “In that moment I had a vision that the bone was tangled in the tattered grave cloth that had already been removed and searched.”  After she said, “Amen;” she went over to the grave cloth and pulled the finger bone from the cloth.  Her siblings backed away, and have never persecuted her since.  Yes, “persecuted,” but definitely NOT “abandoned.”

Day 25: Persecution Here we Come

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When you ask many Christians or Missionaries who are in the midst of persecution or hardship they don’t ask for the persecution to stop.  Why is that?  I know when I am facing just a little persecution I want it to stop. Persecution I believe reveals you have made a stand.  In taking a class called perspectives one of the things we learned is that when persecution happens Christianity thrives.  Why is that?  Because it actually costs us something.  I feel like if something really costs something we truly live it out.  In America being a Christian doesn’t cost us much and that is why we are so nonchalant about our faith.  

 

If we are silent there is no need for persecution.  We need to prepare people for persecution.  Many times we tell people once they have Jesus everything will be better.  That is the prosperity gospel.  What we need to tell people God works everything out for good.  That good is not just right now.
I really loved his challenge when baptizing people  At baptism we should be ready to suffer and die for the Lord.  That would change a lot of things and make people think twice before they count the cost of what it means to be a Christian.

Discipleship When Life Is Busy: Day 25

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Day 25: Self Feeding in the Midst of Persecution and Suffering.  I finally took the time to complete this challenge and read through the verses on persecution this evening right before bed while snuggled up to our youngest foster kiddo.  I have to say that it sort of hit me over the head when I did.  Particularly, these verses spoke into my heart tonight:

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.  With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.  Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains.  Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.

Ephesians 6: 18-20

Our sermon series at church this month has been about persecution.  As that series pointed out, there are different levels of persecution.  American Christians do experience some levels of persecution, but there are many places in the world that experience all levels.  How often do I pray for the persecuted church?  Are my brothers and sisters who are losing their jobs, being kicked out of their homes, and possibly even killed for the cause of Christ on my mind “in all occasions”?  Isn’t it so easy to get distracted and, as Chris pointed out in the video, play into the devil’s game plan by being silent?  I know that I need to be much more intentional about praying for my brothers and sisters in Christ who are experiencing persecution.

I was also incredibly challenged by Chris’ thoughts in the video about training disciples to think about persecution and to be aware that it will come.  I have to admit that if I have a student at church come talk to me about wanting to be baptized, persecution isn’t usually something on the top of my list to make sure that they understand.  I had simply never really thought about it in that context.  His story about how he used to make missionaries going to hostile locations write a last letter really challenged me.  I had to think, what would I write in that letter? Would I be as willing to go if I knew that death was a possibility to the point that I was writing my last words?  Last Sunday, one of the missionaries supported by our church spoke during the sermon.  He said that one of the questions he’s asked most often is “Are you safe there?” and his response was “Is the goal of what we do to be safe?”  I thought those words perfectly explained how we should, as Christians, believe that the gospel is worth it enough to no longer worry about what is safe and make our first priority expanding the Kingdom.

Self-feeding: Persecution

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Interestingly (in a dark sort of way), in addition to finding links to prayer, researchers of Kingdom movements have also found links to persecution. In other words, in the vast majority of rapidly-growing movements toward Christ, believers were experiencing persecution because of their decision to follow Jesus. Curtis explains: