The following is an excerpt from Jeff King’s upcoming devotional book focused on spiritual lessons from the persecuted. For information about pre-orders, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
09/09/2021 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – “And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or property, for my sake, will receive a hundred times as much in return and will inherit eternal life.” – Matthew 19:29 (NLT)
The simple meaning of the above verse is often lost on Western Christians, but quite clear for Muslims who come to Christ.
Raised in a strict and devout Muslim household, Josiah was taught little about Christianity. When Josiah was in ninth grade, he felt curiously drawn to three Christian classmates. They invited Josiah to a Christmas service, and he snuck out of his parent’s home to watch the ceremony.
It was an unforgettable experience. Josiah could sense the presence of God, and at that moment, he saw clearly what it would cost to follow Jesus. Leaving Islam would cost him his family, his education, his health, and perhaps even his life, as converts are typically beaten or killed by their family over the shame of leaving Islam. At the time, he wasn’t ready to pay such a steep price.
Josiah fell in with a group of radical and violent Muslims. Yet, Christianity continued to tug at his heart. But the considerable cost of leaving Islam dominated his thoughts and feelings, and he walked away from Christianity.
But much like the one sheep that went missing from the flock, God sought him out and would not give up on him. It wasn’t long before Josiah encountered a Catholic priest who wanted to meet with him even though Josiah was armed and well-known around the town as a radical Islamist.
Josiah was shocked.
“You don’t want to live like this, but you see no other way,” the priest told him. “But I will give you another way.”
The priest’s words deeply touched Josiah’s heavy heart and he instantly opened up and shared with the priest everything inside him. God was tearing down the walls in his heart and laying aside every reservation.
He attended church for the next two years, simply observing the priest and other Christians. One Easter morning, Josiah saw The Jesus Film. When he saw Jesus die on the cross for the forgiveness of sinners like himself, Josiah was utterly broken by the goodness of Jesus. This offer of complete forgiveness was unlike anything he had ever encountered.
In his heart, he knew that Jesus was real and that He was the only way to reach Heaven— through the narrow gate of Jesus.
Immediately, Josiah felt like he had found a home after wandering in the desert, lost and confused, for years. He had been searching for truth—now he knew the Truth.
That night, he dedicated his life and heart to Jesus.
The trajectory of Josiah’s life changed completely. He began a discipleship course and married a Christian woman.
Josiah and his wife’s experiences give them unique opportunities for ministering to the Muslims in their community. They began a home Bible study for converts and for Muslims who want to learn more about the Gospel.
After surrendering his life to Christ, Josiah was cut off from his parents and siblings. They rejected him and even threatened him with death.
This was the cost of his faith. Knowing Jesus and gaining Heaven far outweighed the pain and expense of temporary rejection, even from those he loved most.
In places and circumstances where there isn’t a cost, or where there is even a materialistic benefit (as in the Western Church), the Church will become sleepy.
But in places and circumstances where Christians endure much suffering, the Church becomes purified, and the dross of lukewarm believers melts away. Only those who love Jesus with their whole heart will count Him worthy of the cost.
Oh, what a lesson to us in the free Church!
We have been captured by the tyranny of the urgent. Our goals have become so little. Our churches are “popular” and full of people, rather than full of the Holy Spirit’s presence.
The persecuted Church shows us what the Lord can make us into; this is their secret ministry to us.
Stop what you are doing right now and cry out to Jesus.
Tell Him that you and your possessions belong to Him; ask Him to help you love Him as He deserves; ask Him to fill you with His Spirit. He is the answer to all of your questions.
As Josiah says, “The Lord sent His son, Jesus, so there is a new way. He is the way.”
“And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.’” Mark 8:38 (ESV)
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