QUESTION From: GEM@xc.org (Justin Long) I am working on a paper on how mission agencies can better prepare for persecution and martyrdom. One of the questions I am examining is: how do mission mobilizers respond to fears of persecution and martyrdom? If someone suggests they do not want to be a missionary for fear of dying in a strange land, what is your response?
ANSWER From: Linda Knapp <firstname.lastname@example.org> We need to remember that it cost God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit more agony than we can imagine to redeem us. Jesus, Who was God Almighty, King of Kings, the Great I Am, the Lord of the Universe, allowed Himself to be beaten up so much that He was hardly recognizable as a human being; mocked four different times with such hatred, spit upon, beaten, rejected (were the angels watching, horror-stricken?; crucified; all His bones were out of joint, and the worst....Jesus' and God's hearts were torn apart when He put all our sins on Jesus, and was separated from Him; I think God's wrath was poured out on Him, and it is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the Living God! (Isa 52-53; Ps 22, 69; Rom 1:18; 5:9; I Thess 1:10; Heb.10:31)
My response to all this is that I want to do anything He wants me to, no matter what the cost! Heb. 12:1-4 tells how Jesus was victorious, by keeping His eyes on the goal of joy, and I feel that is how we will also be victorious. Heb 12:1 may imply that the people in heaven are watching, as Heb 11 tells of the people of faith. We want to bring as much glory to God as is possible in everything we do because we love Him and are so grateful to Him! I don't care how much it costs me, I just ask Him to make me faithful and get me through if it comes to me. And I pray that for all the Christians who are suffering persecution, almost every day. We need to pray a lot for them. If it was us being tortured, we'd want their prayers!
Also, I know that God gives grace for whatever we are asked to do. The early Christians counted it a great honor to suffer for the Lord and for His name, and prayed for boldness instead of protection (Acts 4). It is a high privilege to suffer for God! We could be suffering with heart trouble or any kind of pain (we may need to suffer anyway, for whatever reason), so if we get the high honor of being tortured or martyered for His sake, we are sharing His suffering, and we should be very glad we were allowed this privilege!
God be praised for His great mercy, whatever happens to us, and may He bring us safely into His presence, no matter what the cost. It will seem insignificant compared to what His cost was and compared with heaven. Rom.8:18
ANSWER From: Joy Infante/John Rogers <email@example.com>
It is true that committed missionaries must go into the field with [a willingness to suffer as Christ did]. However, If we respond this way to people with legitimate fears, we run the risk of turning them away from missions all together, with a burden of guilt they don't need. If we have brothers and sisters with these fears, telling them what they know in their mind, but aren't yet ready to fully accept in their heart will usually burden them with enough guilt to make them less useful to the cause than they already are.
Let's realize that every Christian is not yet ready to lay down her or his life, in a literal sense, _yet_. That does not mean that they cannot be useful in other areas where there is great need. Perhaps the Lord will later prepare them for the ultimate sacrifice, perhaps not. That is in His hands. Lets work with the people from where they are and find out what they can do while the Lord is changing their hearts. The cause of Christ will be better served with more active, happier servants in the near term and possibly in the long term as well...
ANSWER From: Neal Pirolo <Neal_Pirolo@eri.org>
..Though most [modern martyrs] have been nationals facing "ethnic cleansing" from their own countrymen...many have been missionaries.
Our organization, Emmaus Road, International, has the distinct privilege of providing the last stage of practical training for missionaries just before going to the field. By this time most have already counted the cost of martyrdom--intellectually. But when they come to us, living in a second culture while they are learning how to live in a second culture, the reality of it takes on new meaning.
Thus, we introduce the theme by drawing an analogy to auto insurance: No one ever sets out on a drive hoping they can use their insurance, but they are mighty glad to have it in an emergency. By the same token, we study the issue of CRISIS MANAGEMENT using some material I gleaned from a mission agency...I would be happy to send you a copy of the notes...
ANSWER From: Michael Nakagawa <imatogo@ALOHA.NET>
..I have read accounts of various people who have undergone severe physical suffering for the faith which surges through our souls. Many have been gripped with fear, a common physiological and psychological weight that burdens the walking dead. Without a doubt, the ones who handle martyrdom better than anyone else are weak, powerless, succumbing to the forces which drive them to their destiny. They are more naturally inclined to cleave to the Rock. Persecution is much the same way. The weak and ineffectual (in the world's eyes) have a way of surrendering themselves to Christ.
Persecution and martyrdom isn't just a mission field issue. I wish there was so much more that I could die to in this world! It would be a good two part question to ask how you would prepare yourself by suffering now, here, in the Western world...