ENDURING PERSECUTION


STANDING STRONG THROUGH THE STORM

ENDURING PERSECUTION
====================
“I will show him how much he must suffer
for my name.” Acts 9:16

These are the words of Jesus to Ananias when Saul
of Tarsus had an encounter
with Jesus on the road to Damascus. Though Saul, who became the Apostle Paul,
resorted to flight several times in his
missionary work, he did not try to
avoid persecution as a life style
practice. Indeed in 2 Corinthians 11:23-27,
Paul outlines and describes the
repeated persecution he had endured for
Christ.

The Bible and history
are replete with examples of those who in the will of
God refused to flee but
stayed and endured the persecution to the point of
self-sacrifice and even
martyrdom.

A few years ago I was in Thailand for some organizational
meetings. One of my
colleagues brought a Vietnamese pastor to meet me who was
in great anguish.
His story touched me deeply.

Pastor Vin was at home
in Vietnam one earlier evening when a parishioner
knocked on the door. He had
just met a sizable group of North Korean refugees
who had trekked through
China and become lost in the Vietnamese jungle. They
were emaciated, ragged
and fearful.

The Pastor invited the refugees to his home where they were fed and his people
brought them adequate clothing. But what now? If
discovered by the Vietnamese
authorities, they would be repatriated to North
Korea to certain death or life
in labor camp. Their only hope was to seek
asylum in neighboring Cambodia
which did not have an extradition agreement
with North Korea.

Then came a second knock on the door. It was the
parishioner again. The
Vietnamese authorities had been tipped off that North
Korean refugees were in
the area and were actively searching for
them.

Pastor Vin knew the jungle route to Cambodia and knew what he had
to do.
Bidding his family farewell, he set off with the group of refugees and
led
them safely through the jungle to the capital of Cambodia where
they
successfully sought asylum as refugees.

But the Vietnamese
authorities soon became aware of what the pastor had done.
They notified his
wife that he would be arrested and imprisoned immediately
upon his arrival
home. He fled further west to neighboring Thailand for
safety.

The
night I met him in Thailand he was in tears. His wife was scheduled
for
surgery the next day in the hospital back home in Vietnam. She so wanted
him
to be there with her during this trying time. Yet he could not safely
return
home. He was in a quandary. We prayed together that God would be with
his wife
in her medical emergency and give him wisdom to know what to
do.

Later I heard from our colleague that Mrs. Vin’s surgery was
successful and
that Pastor Vin, knowing what he would face, returned home to
Vietnam. He was
immediately arrested and placed under house detention. But he
used his time at
home discipling new believers.

Fleeing is not the
only option when persecution strikes. There are times when
God’s will is for
us to stay and face the music!

RESPONSE: Today I will stay in tune with
God’s Spirit so that I will know what
responses He wants me to
make.

PRAYER: Help me Lord to be aware of Your purposes in the events and
challenges
of my life.

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