Hope for the World
At church last Sunday we had a speaker come and talk during the Sunday School time between the services. With all that is going on in the world today, I’m not sure I have permission to use his name in this online venue. And his name isn’t important to this post. But let me give you some background on him. He served Active Duty in the United States Air Force for 25 years. He worked in the White House a couple years and also at the Pentagon. But at the pinnacle of his career, he gave it all up to answer the call to evangelism. He is of Jewish background, a believer in Yeshua (the Hebrew name for Jesus) and has been called to a ministry in Israel.
His talk was fascinating. He started out by telling us with all of the horrible things we hear in the news that we need to hear about the revival that is going on around the world.
The ministry in Israel he works with supports messianic congregations, helps translate Christian books for them, and financially aids those who have been ostracized from their families and found themselves homeless and without a job because of their faith in Jesus. When a Jewish person comes to believe in Yeshua their families often disown them. Sometimes they lose their jobs and find themselves destitute. Just a week ago I watched a video about this very thing. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D_NTqPodYEA&nohtml5=False - the first small section of the video is not clear, but wait until he starts talking.) It is especially difficult for Arabs because becoming a Christian and proselytizing is grounds for death.
Being Jewish or Muslim and coming to believe in Jesus frequently equals persecution. He showed us a picture of an Arab believer who after preaching and bringing 130 Muslims to Christ, walked outside and had acid thrown on his face.
Yet the messianic congregations are growing. He told us many Arabs are showing up at messianic congregations after having a dream where Jesus is revealed to them! He showed us pictures of a former Palestinian terrorist and a Jewish man who had both become believers washing each other’s feet! Jewish believers and Arab believers are worshipping together! He said, “The solution to the Middle East peace process is the gospel.”
We heard about what is going on in Israel, Iran, and China. The gospel message is spreading rapidly. (More Jewish people have come to believe in Yeshua in the past 20 years than in the 2000 years before that. The New Testament tells us the gospel message first went to the Jews and then to the Gentiles. By 100 A.D. the Jews had largely rejected the gospel, but the message of Christ’s redemption to those who believe in Him spread quickly throughout the Gentiles.) He told us about the house churches in Iran and spent quite a bit of time talking about China and their house churches.
The Chinese house church has a passion for revival and prayer. In 1948 there were only about 1 million Christians in China. In 50 years it was estimated there were 10 million Christians in China – despite persecution. Now they estimate there are 247 million Christians in China! A recent Pew article said there may be more Christians in China then in any other nation and about 10 million Chinese convert to Christianity a year! All of this has been seen in one generation!
Throughout Christian history it is recorded that when persecution occurs, the gospel message spreads quickly. The gospel message is stalled here in our country. It isn’t spreading. Sadly, I suppose we are satisfied with the status quo.
Two things come to my mind when I think how casual we are about the Great Commission.
First this quote:
You never know how much you really believe anything until its truth or falsehood becomes a matter of life and death to you.
- C.S. Lewis, English author and Christian apologist
Second is this:
Revelation 3:15-16 is written to the church at Laodicea -
‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.’
As believers we become one family. We should care about what is going on around the world. We should financially and prayerfully support our brothers and sisters in Christ.
I highly recommend two books on what believer’s go through in their countries.
Captive in Iran – A remarkable true story of hope and triumph amid the horror of Tehran’s brutal Evin prison authored by Maryam Rostampour and Marziyeh Amirizaden with John Perry.
Captive in Iran (affiliate link)
These two remarkable women who were raised Muslim and came to be believers put New Testaments in the hands of 20,000 of their fellow Iranians. They started two secret house churches, including one for prostitutes! In 2009 they were arrested for sharing their Christian beliefs. This book is a fascinating read. Maryam and Marziyeh now live in the United States. They gave up their freedom, their families and their country for their faith.
Son of the Underground – The story of Isaac Liu, son of Brother Yun, authored by Isaac Liu with Albrecht Kaul.
Isaac’s father was Brother Yun who was an enemy of the state of China because of his faith in Jesus Christ. Isaac and his mother suffered persecution while his father was imprisoned. They met with other believers in a secret church at night. The secret church had only one Bible. I remember several things about this book fascinated me. But one was that Isaac’s grandmother had memorized every word of every Psalm! Isaac who now lives in Germany also gave his country up for his faith.
This speaker last Sunday reminded me –
But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated. When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful. And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Matthew 28:16-20 (NASB)
Lift up His name so that all nations may be blessed.