martyr

For the mothers who will not celebrate this weekend

Visiting an Asian country a few years ago, I met a prominent national Christian family and heard, first-hand, their story. This is a true story about people in a country where Christianity is an unwanted minority religion, so I cannot name the people or country. This couple and their two grown sons were all committed to openly following Christ in this hostile environment. Worse, for them, they were actively engaged in open Christian ministry.

 Their first son was brutally killed by a local mob during an anti-Christian riot in another part of the country. It could well have been a targeted killing.

 Their second son was traveling in the Middle East. One day his parents received word he had died and his body was being returned for burial. They were never told and were never able to determine the cause of death.

 When I heard this from the father, my first reaction, as head of a Christian ministry myself, was somewhat intellectual. My mind went to thoughts of protecting ministers and missionaries. Then, ashamed of myself, I identified with the father and how well he was dealing with the loss.

 Then I thought of the mother of these two slain men. How she must have said “Good-bye” to them as they each went out the door on separate days, never to hear their voices, never to see their smiles, never to put her arms around them again in this world.

 I thought of the prophet Jeremiah’s words, quoted in Matthew 2:18, “A voice is heard in Ramah,
weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.” I know there’s no direct correlation between these verses and this modern tragedy, but I thought about how many mothers have been forced to re-live an event like this, only because they were living their faith among those who did not.

 Unfortunately, this is one story I know, among so many others. A recent report from the British government states that Christians are the most persecuted religious group in the world. 80% of those persecuted for religious faith today are Christians!  We’re only shocked by that because we’ve forgotten words of Scripture such as “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:10) and “everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12).

 And I think of all the mothers mourning for their children.

 It would be only human to be angry, to hate those who do things like this. We might expect our government to do something, anything. Some among us might even want to personally lash out to punish or kill our persecutors.

 And then I think, wouldn’t it be better to focus our pain and attention on winning our persecutors to Christ? These are the lost, the unreached peoples of the world. They persecute our family-in-Christ out of ignorance. We can’t ignore this persecution, but we can use it, instead, as impetus to overcome ignorance, hate, and violence with the saving and life-changing gospel of Jesus Christ.

 For the sake of mothers everyone, let’s get on to the with the last command of Jesus Christ, “Go and make disciples of all nations.”

What Drives Disciples?

Jim Elliot is a name familiar to many of my generation. If you don't know who he is, his story is worth reading. Christian singer Twila Paris took a line from Jim Elliot's journal and turned it into the song,

 He is no fool, if he should choose,

to give the things he cannot keep to buy what he can never lose.

To see the treasure in one soul

that far outshines the brightest gold;

He is no fool, he is no fool.

 

Jim was sold out to Jesus Christ. He set his face towards missions early in life and single-mindedly pursued that goal until he arrived in Ecuador. Jim was one of five men trying to establish contact with the fierce Auca Indian tribe. On one day in 1957 all five were killed by the people they were trying to help. They left five widows and families. They also became testimonies to those of that generation, myself included, who would move into missionary service partially because of their example.

 What drove this disciple? What made Jim Elliot leave a comfortable home for the jungles of South America? What compelled him to put his life in jeopardy by approaching the Auca? The most obvious answer is that he believed that without Christ, there is no hope for salvation. He wrote in his journal, "I dare not stay home while Quichuas perish." He knew that everyone who does not have faith in Christ is lost and condemned. No one can gain eternal life without a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Knowing this, he also realized his responsibility -- his privilege -- to share this good news with those who did not yet know.