Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Real Cost of Ministry

Ok. A fun moment. This is three members of our team—minus me because I’m taking the picture from the front seat where I get to ride because I’m the senior member of this group—packed into the back seat of a taxi. One other member of our entourage tonight we can’t show. More on that in a minute.

So anyway, in the pic we’re on our way to dinner then to a filming session. The meal was excellent. But afterwards the real treat was to sit down with the leader of the entire Central Asian region and his wife in a local coffee shop on a busy street, and talk with them one on one about this area of the world and the importance of the work we’re doing here. We also talked about what kind of people come here to serve. It was a great interview with some real challenge for our extended family back home. Can’t wait for you to see it.

Back to the other guy in the taxi, the one I can’t show the picture of. We’ve been staying in a guest house this week where he’s also living for a period of time and were immediately taken with his sweet nature and infectious faith. But it was when he told us his story we were really blown away.

He’s a young man with a wife and three children, all of whom are believers. But the country he lives in doesn’t tolerate his faith, so when his ministry was recently reported to the authorities he was arrested and placed in solitary confinement for weeks, while a local judge ruled on his situation. His wife was also arrested, leaving their children in the care of their grandmother.

All because he believed.

He’s not the only one. Indeed, this entire region is hostile toward our message and will do almost anything to stop people from hearing it. This morning in our opening session, for instance, we spent an hour focusing on many others just like the young man, men and women our partners work with on a regular basis who are willing to pay any price for the sake of our message. Tomorrow night I’ll be leading a study with a group of men and women from the same nation as our young friend, ex-patriots living in this great city who gather together to worship and pray with relatively more freedom here than in their homeland, waiting for the day when they can return with the message of redemption to their family and friends back home.

All this puts into a deeper and much more challenging way the nature of our work. This is serious stuff with eternal repercussions. Let’s not fool ourselves—in our blessed and prosperous land—into thinking that what we do isn’t urgent and necessary. It is. More than anything else we can imagine.

And our young friend? I’m happy to say that, in a miraculous way his circumstances have resolved, and he and his wife will shortly be reunited here in our own nation then begin the next chapter of their lives. A chapter that, for them, will focus on sharing the message with even more people across the world as they move to yet another nation, to build yet another ministry that will reach their people with the good news they want so desperately need to hear.

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