This post was recently put up over at SBCImpact blog.
Tuesday morning I got a phone call asking me to check my e-mail right away and get in touch with the team in Cair Andros. For those of you who don’t know I am the director of a humanitarian aid agency that has four offices in Gondor. Some are IMB personnel and some are seconded from other organizations. The team in Cair Andros is a multi-national team and on Monday night an armed group of men broke into the home of one of the families there and tried to take the Doctor hostage. He refused to go. They beat him and in the end he gave them all of his money before they left. His wife was hooded and threatened with a gun, his money was taken, and he has a really impressive black eye but we praise God that his four young children were asleep and heard none of this. We evacuated the team down to Minas Tirith and they began their debriefing. The five families are pretty shaken up but it was clear that they are determined to return and that they were pretty annoyed that I made them leave in the first place. I have given them some protocols for living in dangerous places where kidnapping is a possibility- something I learned here 14 years ago when Gondor was a much more dangerous place- and two families will go back up tomorrow.
The team has been there for two years and has faced some really intense spiritual warfare. Cair Andros is in fundamentalists territory and the the Enemy does not want to give it up. In the two years the team has been there several have had to leave, there has been sickness, threats, difficulties, and a small church has been started that is beginning to grow. What we need to understand is that persecution has one aim: Persecution’s aim is to stop the proclamation of the Gospel. Our enemy does not want the truth of our Lord’s salvation proclaimed anywhere much less where it has never been proclaimed before. He recruits any who will aid him in his endeavor to silence those whom our Lord has called to proclaim the Truth. When we remain silent we cooperate with the persecutors. When we proclaim the Truth we are His Ambassadors. The Cair Andros team needs some time to regroup, pray, and heal but I am so proud of them in their determination not to let the persecutors win. They are and will continue to be proclaimers of Truth.
I have been asked on occasion if I think that serving where I serve in Middle Earth is harder than those who serve in the West. The short answer is yes. Most of you don’t want to live here or even visit. The economy is non-existent, the standard of living is low, the difficulties in sharing the Word among Muslim people is enormous. But the long answer is no. The truth is as difficult as it is to live here you and I face the same enemy. The battle I fight looks different in content but in reality it is the same battle. And, to be quite honest, persecution in the West is very effective. Would you say that even 10% of Christians in our Churches have shared their faith this week? Very few have had attempted kidnappings, beatings, threats, jeers and yet how many have been silenced? Persecution as it is usually defined in the West is not needed in an environment where 90% of the Body of Christ is silent.
My point here is not to ridicule but to wake up. Many in the West have fallen asleep and the oil is running out. The Bride Groom is coming and time is short. We must wake up and face the challenge in front of us. Most of those around us are going to a Christless Hell forever and we are saying nothing. A small vocal few are railing about homosexuality and abortion and we believe that the world’s opposition of our views on this constitute real persecution- that is neither biblical nor true. If we have biblical positions on social issues that is all well and good but if we are silent about our Lord in what way will He be pleased with us? We are those who proclaim the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. If we are not then our enemy has stolen our identity from us and our prophetic voice is silenced. If this is true then we will be found on the side of the persecutors. We hold our tongues and silence the message that will bring life to the dead and dying.
We must come to grips with the waywardness of the Church. We are consumed with ourselves. It has been said that if we took the entertainment off of our stages then our churches would be empty in two weeks. I pray that is not true. What is true is that 60% of the money of the Church in the West goes towards interests payments on the buildings. Banks are wising up to this and are forcing pastors to get insured because they know if anything happens to the visionary leader who is leading the church into this debt they will likely not be able to pay it off. I recently heard of a pastor who was challenged to go on a mission trip but though he was convicted to go he was unable to because his insurance policy would not allow travel to a dangerous place. It is time to wake up, stop giving the Church’s authority to the persecutors and shout out the message of salvation.
I know that some of you are rightly horrified that our team was attacked in this way. What I want you to see is that a black eye pales in comparison to an eternity in Hell. Too many are weighing the costs of sharing, the costs of missions, the costs of personal evangelism. You may believe that at the Judgment Seat Christ will stand and you will not be judged. This is foolishness and completely unbiblical. You will be judged and if you are silent about Christ now how will He stand and defend you later. Stop siding with the persecutors. There is a team that is going back to Cair Andros. They know what they are going to face and are prepared to face it. Will you go out today and face the persecutors in your life?