Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member
I don’t really have a message with this blog, but I would like to tell you a story. It’s a true story about a trip I made to Asia back in 2002. I was with the ministry I am working with now and we were going to take a “tour” of the mission field. This was a good trip as I recall, but there was one event that has stuck in my mind for years.
At one point, we stopped at one of our Bible schools for a few days. There were 365 students in the school that year. Most of them were young men and there were about 12 girls. As always, when we arrived all the students had formed two lines at the entrance to the school and we had to walk down the middle. They sang songs to us and threw flower petals (at least it wasn’t rocks) at us. We were later given a neckless made of flowers that we wore for the first day.
After that we sat down and had tea with the leader and had the opportunity to ask questions. Then it was time to take a tour of the campus. We walked around awhile and the leader explained all the operations of the school. There were young men hanging around us, mostly out of curiosity. A little later we came to one of the boy’s dorms. It had two levels and we went upstairs. It looked like a military barracks, just a big open room with bunk beds. The students kept all their belongings, which weren’t much, under the beds. As I was there I walked to the end of the room and looked down to the first floor. There was a small patio and there were probably 12 to 15 young men hanging out there and they looked up at me. I went back to the group and listened to the leader some more.
We went down stairs and out the door at the end of the building where the patio was that I saw from upstairs. Our group stood at one end of the patio and the 12 to 15 brothers stood in a group on the other side. The leader was still talking, but I started looking at the young men. As I watched, I became overwhelmed with a thought. I thought to myself, “these guys will all be graduating sometime before too long and going out into the villages. At best, they will face verbal opposition and probably be beaten and some possible killed.” I no longer heard the leader as I was just crying out in my heart to God for these guys to be safe and faithful to the end. Then I noticed, as I looked at them, they all started looking back at me. Suddenly, I found myself walking toward them across the patio. I grabbed one of the guys, gave him a big bear hug and said “praise the Lord.” That’s the only sure thing I could think of that the guys would understand in English. Suddenly I was swarmed by all the guys all wanting to be hugged and give me a “praise the Lord.” We smiled at each other, hugged each other and probably shed a few tears. It may sound strange, but for me, this was the most poignant part of the entire two-week trip. The rest of the trip was good, but I couldn’t get these guys off my mind. As you can tell, they are still there today.
Why do I share this with you? I’m not sure really. It just came to mind and I decided to let my fingers do the talking as I tend to do. I do not know where any of the men are. By God’s grace they are still on the mission field and sharing the Gospel of our Lord while the door is still opened to do so. At least I hope they are. Generally speaking, once a student gets on the mission field, he starts a church within a year or two, so many of them are probably pastors leading their flock.
Another thing that probably brought this to mind today was a DVD I saw over the weekend. It was about a Western Missionary and his wife whom the Lord used to visit many places where there were Christians under extreme persecution. I won’t share any of the stories here as it would take up too much space and they are probably copyrighted. But I can tell you that the first time I watched the DVD, my heart was actually in physical pain. I was a Christian when a lot of these stories happened in the 80’s but I never knew how much these believers suffered. In one country, the missionary visited, he learned that at one point there were no Christians left in the country because the non-Christians who were persecuting them killed 100% of the Christians. Somehow, God grew a new church, I believe from the children of the Christians who were killed.
So, I guess this is my point. You probably all know this, but we are all part of the Church. There is no persecuted church and free church. Those brothers and sisters in these persecuted countries are part of us and we are part of them. I often wonder if I would have the strength and courage to stand the way these brothers and sisters do, sometimes to the point of torture and death. Philippians 1:21 says, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”
I’m sorry, I don’t mean to be on a “downer” or preach at anyone. I just know that it would please our LORD if we pray more for the Church. There will be tough times to come, but we know that scripture says the gates of hell will not stand up against the Church. May our LORD give us the grace and wisdom to take this to heart. Please pray for the Church, especially for those who are suffering under persecution. They are all our brothers and sisters. Blessings!