I remember about ten years ago listening to a sermon by Francis Chan as he spoke about suffering. He went through every single book in the New Testament and pulled out one verse from each book. The point was clear, it hit me hard – we shouldn’t be surprised when we see or experience suffering as a believer. In fact, we see that suffering is neither something we should run from or pursue. But as we pursue the kingdom and proclamation of the gospel we should recognize that some form of pain or difficulty is to be expected.
A biblical theology of suffering is paramount for any Christian worker living in an unreached country. As David Platt famously said, “Unreached peoples are unreached for a reason. They’re hard, difficult, and dangerous to reach. All the easy ones are taken.” Global Fellowship has a laser focus on these unreached places which necessitates that we become comfortable resting in the strong hands of our Father as we follow him into dangerous places.
Recently some of our local workers in North India were nearly killed for their faith. Their child took a Bible with him outside of their house. Neighbors saw and were outraged. The mother was doused in Kerosene by some of the attackers. The family was able to flee the area before being burned to death but the mob stayed behind to burn down their home along with everything they owned. In many places a life like this is expected, the potential for danger real but the presence of God even more real.
Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange was happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. – 1 Peter 4:12-13
Are you experiencing trials or pain? Scripture says to not be surprised. In fact, it goes so far as to encourage us to rejoice because we are sharing in the same suffering that Jesus experienced. Our missionaries around the world have courageously trusted in God’s sovereignty and gone to or remained in places that are hostile to them and their faith in God. They do so because their lives are laid on God’s altar as living sacrifices, dedicated to the glory of God.
The words of Hudson Taylor will serve as an appropriate conclusion, “China is not to be won for Christ by quiet, ease-loving men and women…The stamp of men and women we need is such as will put Jesus, China, souls, first and foremost in everything and at every time – even life itself must be secondary…Of such men and women, do not fear to send us too many. They are more precious than rubies.”
Please pray for the many missionaries that have sacrificed for the gospel and serve in difficult places.