“God answered my prayer to advance His Kingdom by sending me to prison.” This perspective has been articulated by numerous members of the body of Christ who have been imprisoned and tortured for their faith. When we ask God to use us, are we willing for Him to send us to prison? The apostle Paul celebrated his own imprisonment saying, “my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel, so that my imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to everyone else” Philippians 1:12-13. Brother Yun, a Chinese House Church leader, spent close to eight years in prison, enduring inhumane torture and brutality. Yet, brother Yun is not alone in his experience. Brother Yun claims that “countless” Chinese believers have faced beatings, imprisonment, torture and even death at the hands of the Communist government, for their faith. Yet, Brother Yun teaches in His book
“Living Waters” that suffering is a gift from God that purifies us and makes us fruitful. “I have found over the years”, Yun says, “that many of the most fruitful times of ministry for the Lord have come at the same time as great oppression and persecution.” (Living Waters pg. 205). As American Christians, we say that we want revival but are we willing to pay the price for a true revival? What is it worth to us? On almost every Good Friday, I think of the old song “Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?” We sing such songs but we are often far removed from the cross of Jesus. In that sense, we were not there when they crucified Jesus. We don’t know understand the impact of that event. I am afraid that if we do not get close to the cross, we will never get to experience the resurrection. It is in the place where light meets the darkness, that the power of the Gospel is truly displayed. “How we mature as a Christian largely depends”, Yun says, “on the attitude we have when we’re faced with suffering. Some try to avoid it or imagine it doesn’t exist, but that only makes the situation worse. Others try to endure it grimly, hoping for relief. This is better but falls short of the full victory God wants to give each of His children. The Lord wants us to embrace suffering as a friend.” (“Living Waters pg. 204). The truth of Brother Yun’s teaching is displayed in many countries of the world today. In places of persecution, the Church is growing! Iran has persecuted Christians for many years now and yet the Iranian Church is out-pacing almost every other nation in growth! In India, persecution is also on the rise, but so is the Church’s growth! And even in North Korea where persecution is severe, the
Church’s growth is outstripping the ability of the government to kill her. Jesus is celebrating Easter through His dying and rising Church all over the world! Can we stop being afraid and learn to trust in Jesus’ resurrection power? Then we will be joyful wherever God sends us!
Please, take some time during this Easter season to thank the Lord for His resurrection and ask Him to encourage His children to live boldly for His name.