Read His Words Before Ours!
For the sake of transparency, I need to tell you that I wasn’t prepared for how writing this post would affect me. I am cognizant of the persecution my brothers and sisters in Christ face around the globe, but to say that I think about and pray for them daily would be a stretch. In America, Christians feel “persecuted” and “marginalized” today, but our “struggles” pale when we read a few accounts of real-life, current-day martyrs.
People of the cross.
People choosing Jesus over their own lives.
It’s sobering. I can almost guarantee you will find yourself absolutely convicted, eyes swimming with tears when reading their stories of persecution.
One such account is that of Han Chung-Ryeol, 49. Born in China, Han pastored a church on the North Korean border. Han was married, and father to both a son and daughter. He was a friend to those in need, frequently providing for their physical needs with clothing and food as he met their spiritual needs with his message of the Gospel. Han planted his church in 1993, and led countless North Koreans to Christ. A man of the cross, he devoted his life to serving the marginalized: orphans, sex trafficked women, soldiers and the famine-starved. Han was known for helping all who crossed into China from North Korea. North Koreans frequently said that they trusted him because they could “see his heart”.
In February of 2016, the North Korean government issued an order for Pastor Han to be kidnapped, brought to North Korea, and interrogated.
Rather than flee, Han chose to stay and continue his ministry.
On April 30th, 2016, Pastor Han was abducted as he left his church. Several hours later, his body was found, broken and mangled beyond recognition. Knowing full well the price he would likely pay, he chose to stay.
As a native to that region, I have no doubt he was well aware of the abhorrent treatment that was imminent. He saw those things occur all the time. Rather than become calloused to it or fearful, he loved in spite of it.
He loved because of it.
Those that knew him described the trust he engendered; they said it was because they could “see his heart”.
And his heart reflected Christ.
The question I find myself asking is this: Would the same be said of me?
When faced with opposition or the potential for controversy, do I speak the truth in love?
Or do I avoid the spotlight of transparency and sidle away from a direct answer?
I would like to say the former, but truthfully, I can’t say that I’m often faced with that decision. We are so comfortable in America. It’s easy to complain about our country’s political situation, or to claim that our rights are being violated, but are they really?
Have I recently been through tribulation…of any kind?
Have I struggled against sin to the point of my own bloodshed?
Have my children been tortured or murdered in front of me for my failure to recant Jesus?
Have I been put to death for my faith?
The thing that struck me the most as I read account after account of those that have died for the sake of Jesus, for refusing to renounce His Name, is this: Their lives and their deaths communicated a rhythm of love for Jesus and those He sent to them and of death to self.
In life and in death, they served.
In life and in death, they loved.
In life and in death, they clung to the cross, and the assurance that this place is only temporary.
Their security was in the promise of eternity with Jesus, so nothing this world threatened was ever really any threat at all.
Lord, teach us to love You better.
To model a rhythm of love throughout our lives, in actions more than mere words. Help us to fully commit our hearts, hands and feet to serve, love and go where You lead. Teach us to be people of Your cross.
Embracing God’s fullness in our lives is rooted in scripture and memorizing His word is vital to our continued growth and depth with Jesus. Tap and hold from your mobile device to download this week’s verse and make it your phone’s lockscreen!