Saturday, October 24, 2009

Every Nation, Tribe, and Tongue

Tonight is just what the inventor of the "wake up call" must have anticipated at the time of its creation, hoping that it would hit big all these years later and still make an impact.

In other words, God's plan does indeed go for your gut, and it packs a wallop like none other.

I had the privilege of hearing a very interesting man speak. A man named Yun, a meek-looking guy from China, who has actually been through a lot more than his optimistic smile and energetic voice would let on. I can't say I've met many people who have been tortured and thrown in prison multiple times for what they believe in -- especially to speak about it later on with encouragement in their eyes.

My little imagination can hardly conjure up an idea of how grim it must be to languish away in a prison cell in China, a country so mysterious and shrouded in difficult history. I knew reports already of what happened to people who were caught sharing the gospel and worshiping there, but it was something different to see one of these people face-to-face. I especially didn't think there was any way that he could look so whole, satisfied, and healed, despite the horrific memories he must have gone through.

An anecdote to illustrate my point: he was in a building with other Chinese Christians, secretly holding an underground church meeting. Suddenly, the police came in and started handcuffing everyone in sight, arresting them for worshiping the Lord. He started to call out to others nearby to encourage them to try and escape, since there's no reason to run into the hands of persecutors if you can. He backed into the wall and leapt out a window at least 2 stories off the ground -- only to land on about 30 police officers that happened to be waiting outside, which he didn't know about.

If you've ever felt like a sheep in a pack of wolves, this story might humble it.

To backtrack a little bit, before he came on, there were actually these three guys who rapped for a little while, which was pretty cool because I've never heard anyone rap for the sake of the gospel before. It sounds silly maybe to some people but seeing this in person really encouraged me that every kind of person in this world can be driven to fall in love with Jesus and be compelled to show that love however possible. What the main rapper said really prodded at my heart and embedded into my brain: "I have a hard time imagining standing before God on judgment day and Him telling me, 'You know, you were too radical down there. You didn't need to be all that radical about Me. Look at this guy, here; he just scraped by with a normal life and he's still here.'"

We can all agree that if anything, it would please the Lord of the Universe that we were enthralled enough by His love and mercy to go do crazy things so that other people might experience it too. And the word 'please' could be an understatement.

Brother Yun might attest that if having your legs broken and crushed, and being thrown into jail four times isn't radical, nothing really is.

Yet because of people like him, 130 million Chinese people are now followers of Christ. He has staked his life on the sacrifice of the Son of God, and his own life is not worth keeping if it could be lost in the struggle to bring more people to the Kingdom. The Chinese church is now sending missionaries to the Middle East and Central Asia to spread the good news even further, because they would rather it not be contained. Instead of leaving their repressive country to find a safe haven to worship God, they would rather go somewhere even darker and put their energy into seeing other people come to confess faith in Christ despite the dangers.

I have never wanted to want God to take my fears and desires away unless they honor Him so much in my life. I don't want to love life on this earth more than seeing more people know God. I don't want to love my things, my status, my relationships, my pride, my anything more than my Savior and what He wants for me. My prayer is that He does that, and that I will gladly let Him take me where I need to be and teach me to lean on Him alone in times of trouble.

Before tonight, I had heard of this crazy idea about being given "strength in the moment." It sounded pretty reasonable: you may go into a perilous situation without the courage and endurance to withstand the potential suffering, but at the very moment when strength is needed. the Holy Spirit will intercede and make you able to stand up for the Lord. I like this idea but it's still not easy to take that step out of your comfort zone where this possibility may or may not help you. But just to hear that when Yun felt the Lord telling him to just walk out of a high-security Chinese prison, despite hesitating and arguing internally for a while, he finally took steps towards his cell door, to find that another prisoner friend had unlocked it, and that every gate he came to was unlocked and unguarded. When he exited the prison, plenty of guards were outside as they were changing shifts, and not one asked him where he was going or who he was. A taxi was waiting for him and he left.

The Lord is faithful, even if He had let Yun be shot for trying to escape, because that plan would only take him home sooner, his mission complete.

If I pray one thing tonight, it be that I thirst for the moment the Lord calls me home, and that I patiently await this end amidst all the things He calls me to do while I'm alive. I want to have the certainty that this is far better than anything I will find on this earth, and it's worth dying for.

"I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!" -- Mark 9:24

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