Have you ever read a book or watched a movie that just completely convicted you to the core or clarified your focus on what you were doing in your life. I have certainly had one book convict me to the core, the Bible, but as of late, “The Insanity of God” clarified my focus to what I am doing in my life. If you haven’t seen it, I won’t spoil it too much for you. It is a documentary of Nic and Ruth Ripkin’s missionary trips and interviews he has had with persecuted believers all around the world. Two particular stories really stood out to me and I want to share why.
In Nic’s trek to find out if Jesus was worth it, he came across a man from Russia who began teaching his family the Bible. This man felt led to “train up his children” in it and soon his neighbors wanted the same and asked if he would be willing to teach them also. The gathering become large enough to attract the attention of the KGB and the authorities came in and arrested him. He spent 17 years in prison for being a believer of Jesus Christ. At one point, after the guards tried to bring him to his breaking point by bringing in a woman dressed to look like his wife, tortured her and killed her, he agreed to sign papers denying his faith in Jesus. The next morning, though, after he said the Holy Spirit spoke to him assuring him that woman was not his wife and that she and his children were safe, he refused to sign the papers. It wasn’t what He endured that convicted me or clarified my focus in what the Lord has called me to in my life, but that every chance he got to find paper and something to write with he would jot down as many Bible verse he could recall and post within his jail cell.
I began memorizing scripture about a year ago and I sat there in that movie theater moved to tears because I know that would be the only thing that would help me in my time of distress. Scripture after scripture, verse after verse, filled my head of the ones I would jot down and I sat there, though, wondering about my brothers and sisters here in the comfy, non-persecuted U.S. A. Would they be ready when persecution came & Bibles were burned or illegal to own? How many would be able to begin jotting down every scripture they know to comfort them in their time of distress? It made me all the more persistent and consistent to continue memorizing scripture so that when, not if, persecution comes, I would be so filled with His Word, that I would be able to stand firm to the very end.
Another part that convicted me and clarified my focus is when he visited a Chinese house church. The only question they had for Nic was if Jesus had reached the other nations of the world. Because of there seclusion in that country, they had no idea if the great commission was being accomplished. Tears filled my eyes as I recalled my trips to Cape Verde, West Africa and the work we are doing locally….incredible joy and gratefulness filled my heart to be such a small part of fulfilling the great commission, but that wasn’t the part that convicted me. Nic answered their question by telling them of the persecution in Somalia. He told them an entire generation of believers have been wiped off the earth because of their belief in Jesus. Not a sound came from them as they listened. When Nic was through, he went to sleep only to be awoken by wailing a weeping. He had thought the authorities had found the house church and were gathering them all up, but what he found convicted me to the core. They all had gotten up, all 150+ of them, to pray for their brothers and sisters in Somalia. His translator told him they all have committed to getting up and hour earlier every morning to pray for their persecuted brothers and sisters in Somalia. How many believers in the U.S do that? How many really care about their sisters and brothers across the sea?
I didn’t write this to make anyone feel guilty, bad, and to bring any condemnation to believers in the west, but to encourage the believer. I get very discouraged when I look around at those who call themselves believers, but yet don’t look any different from the world. I get discouraged when many are so distracted by the things of this world and could care less of fulfilling the great commission. But there is hope because I know God’s promises are true and has laid out for us what we are to do. Be encouraged, stand firm, and take heart. Hide His Word in your heart, pray for the persecuted and know the One you serve is coming again 🙂