"Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act." -Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Cost of Discipleship, 1937
This Lenten season has been unusually blessed for me this year.
1. For three days, my husband Bill and I hosted a bishop from Pakistan. Yaqub mobilized Christians in 2,000 Pakistani churches to help him take clothing, shoes, food and medical supplies to the poverty-stricken mountain region of Northern Pakistan. The recipients belonged to the Taliban.
2. We met and became friends with a guy named Pete who owns Second Chance Coffee in Wheaton, IL. He employs convicted felons and believes in the win-win benefits of conscious capitalism. We listened to one of Pete's employees named Louis tell his story. Louis was convicted of such violent crimes as a young man that he was sentenced to serve three consecutive life sentences plus one hundred years. Louis talked about finding Jesus Christ in a maximum security prison. He described how hard it was to find a job and begin a new life post-prison after his miraculous release.
3. For four days Bill and I hosted our friend Prem from Hope for Today Ministries. We learned more about church planting in India as thousands of people are being reached for Christ through the indigenous church planting discipleship movement. Hope for Today has been a ministry partner of Wheatland Salem Church for more than twenty five years. There are currently 493 house churches flourishing in the northern regions of India as men and women walk village to village sharing the Gospel.
4. As you read this blog, Yousef is driving a truck filled with clothing, food and medical supplies to christians in Iraq. He sent me an email the night before he left. He felt compelled by Christ to go to the Iraqi Christians. Yousef is an evangelical Egyptian christian and is driving with one other christian from Egypt. He asked me to pray for him and the journey. While we were together in Houston he said, "You American christians think persecution is terrible but for us it's everyday life."
5. A devout Muslim woman came into church as I was leaving my office Monday evening. She had never been inside a church. She was looking for help for her son.
6. This morning, I listened to Naghmeh Abedini whose husband, Pastor Saeed Abedini, is currently imprisoned in Iran because of his christian beliefs. She tells her incredible story of leaving the Muslim faith and coming to faith in Jesus during an interview on "Focus on the Family." She also discusses the persecution her husband is facing and the importance of praying for persecuted Christians around the world. You can listen to the interview here. LINK
It feels like the world has come to our doorstep. I can no longer ignore the gnawing feeling that Christ is calling me to something greater. I don't know what 'something greater' is but I trust him. I think that's all that matters.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Matthew 5:10-12 NIV