On that day a great
persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem, and
all except the
apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria…Those who
had been
scattered preached the word wherever they went. Acts 8:1, 4

Again and
again we see that in many countries, right before persecution comes,
church grows rapidly. This happened in northern Korea one hundred years
just before the Japanese occupation and persecution.

It is helpful to
remember this theme from the book of Acts: persecution does
not necessarily
cause church growth but church growth appears to

Church leaders among the many house church networks
in China (the fastest
growing church in the world) repeatedly share that
suffering for Jesus often
brings about a greater harvest of

Sariman was a young student preparing himself to serve the Lord
among the
thirty million Sundanese of Indonesia, the largest unreached people
group in
the world. During a violent attack on the Bible school, Sariman was
killed and
many other students were wounded. Sariman bravely assisted his
although he could have saved himself. Before his death he was
tortured and
other students testified how Sariman was slaughtered. He was hit
with a bar of
wood and iron, then hacked, stabbed and his mouth was cut from
the left cheek
to the right cheek.

Upon hearing yet another testimony
of martyrdom, many questions arise. “Why
this tragedy, Lord? How long will
you allow this to continue? This is such a
terrible loss for this wonderful
ministry. What is the sense in all of this?”

Then the dean of the Bible
school completes the testimony and indirectly
answers our questions: “The
victory in this tragedy is that only ten days
after the murder of Sariman we
had ten new applicants to study at the Bible
school. Today, six months after
the incident, we have ninety-eight new
students who are willing to go where
Sariman would have gone. The blood of the
martyrs is indeed

Paul clearly warns the Church in Galatia (Galatians 5:1) to stand
firm in the
midst of freedom. Freedom is not a time to relax. Freedom often
creates a new
kind of slavery. There is a price tag attached to freedom and
we need to count
the cost. It is time to open our hearts to the valuable
lessons that we can
learn from those that follow Christ in restricted
countries—even to their

RESPONSE: Today I will accept the
biblical teaching and the many church growth
examples that suffering often
brings about a greater harvest of souls.

PRAYER: Lord, we pray today for
Your fast-growing suffering churches around
the world. May they be encouraged
as they see many more souls added to Your

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