Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Week of Prayer for North American Missions: When the Going Gets Tough

As we continue to pray for North American missions this week, we must discuss a sad, but true reality regarding the gospel and missions: hostility and persecution. The book of Acts records the first Christian martyr, Stephen, a deacon, but he is not the first to face hostility because of his allegiance to the gospel. Let us not forget that Christ Himself warned that if they persecuted Him, they will persecute His followers. Furthermore, He adds that it is not us that the world hates, but Him. These are both comforting and yet frightening.

This week, we need to pray for the safety, security, success, faithfulness, and perseverance of missionaries and believers throughout the world. America is an unusual spot in the world when it comes to the Christian faith. For the most part, Christians are free to worship and proselytize. But the rest of the world does not enjoy such luxuries.

Many in the world today are on the front lines of spreading the gospel and their earthly reward is hatred and animosity. Thank God for such believers! Rather than feel sorry for them, let us rejoice that God has found them faithful. At the same time, let us not get comfortable in our padded pews with our cheap and easy grace and think that this is what it is like to be faithful to the Lord. Rather, while we are safe and free, we should be praying for those who aren't; those on the front lines reaching the world for Christ fulfilling the Great Commissin.

At the same time, let us make ourselves ready. How strong and faithful will we be if we are ever persecuted, hated, ignored, or even killed? Will we persevere to the end, or will the moment things get tough will we abandon Christ? How faithful we are in the midst of trial and ridicule is what proves our faith. If any of us were to face such hate, would God find us faithful, or would God find us as cowards? Sadly, many Christians are ready to ban ship whenever our marriage struggles or the bills begin to stack. If we can't handle everyday life, how could we ever handle the offense of the gospel?

Today, let us pray for the safety, security, and success of our missionaries and believers around the world. Let us pray that freedom will thrive so that the gospel might be more readily preached. But ultimately, let us pray that the gospel spread like a wildfire regardless of governments, laws, politics, economics, cultural norms, traditions or any other hindrances to the gospel. Let us not forget, that the blood of the martyrs can still be the seed of the Church. Though many might suffer, the gospel can and will still spread to the glory of God.

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