Every week I pray that our friends do not get arrested for telling others about Jesus. Whenever I travel I ask God for wisdom each time I am questioned by the police. When I sit down with local leaders and church planters the types of problems we face are:
-Who is being followed?
-How do we meet without being seen?
-Who has been ostracized from their village?
-Who has been taken away and questioned?
-How many people have signed documents recanting their faith in Jesus?
-Who is willing to go and tell more people about Jesus?
This is the norm. This is the Church. The Church has always been built on the blood of martyrs. Since the death of Stephen (the first martyr in Acts 8:1) every church growth movement in history includes individuals who suffer for Jesus. We see from the very beginning that God intentionally uses persecution and calamity to bring about His global redemptive purpose. John Piper says that, “suffering is not a tragedy but a promise.” God’s glory and supremacy is most manifest through darkness and death.
So why is it that we do everything possible to avoid suffering? Why are we so damn scared of persecution? The answer is simple: because we don’t believe suffering to be a key part of our faith. Unless a strong theology of suffering is built into our missiology, the church in the West will never see a church multiplication movement.
When you sit down with your leaders and church planting team, what types of problems do you face? Make a list. If it ends up being about funds, personnel, or resources, than you may have some serious evaluating you need to do. The proclamation of the Gospel both in word and in deed should cause a firestorm of persecution in whatever socio-political setting you’re in. We know that persecution happens on different scales in different places. Persecution can be social, legal or physical. Don’t be afraid but rejoice in opposition. Where there is suffering there will be growth.