Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Comfortable Christianity, Missions and Persecuted Church

by Oleg Turlac

“I could not help but think that somewhere along the way we had missed what was radical about our faith and replaced it with what is comfortable.” (D.Platt)

It is quite easy for us, Christians living in Western countries, to get very comfortable. Our life is comfortable compared to that of persons living in the third world countries. In 2014, 64% of Americans owned their own home. In many families each member has a car. We can get a loan from the bank and start our own business in no time. The same can be said about our Christian life. Every Sunday we worship God in a brightly lit and well heated/air-conditioned building. Each one of us has a copy of the Bible in our hands or in our smartphones. In our self-centered and individualistic culture we easily get used to the comforts of life and forget about the rest of the world.

However, our Saviour Jesus Christ always taught us to look beyond ourselves. He stressed that fact that we should not be preoccupied with just our own needs, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?" (Mat.6:25) The motto of His earthly life was to preach the Gospel of salvation and help those in need.  In the Gospel of Mark we read, "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many" (10:45).

Jesus always looked beyond Himself, trying to find one more leper, one more blind or crippled individual. He was a great Leader, for His followers said that they would not leave Him under any circumstance. In the Gospel of John we read, "Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life" (6:68). And, though his sufferings and death instilled fear in them, 11 out of 12 disciples became bold messengers of their Teacher and Friend after His departure to be with the Heavenly Father.

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Today I would like to challenge each one of us to look beyond our comfort zone, beyond ourselves, so to speak. Many of our brothers and sisters in Christ in Islamic and last frontier countries do not enjoy the same great things that we appreciate here in America, Canada and the Western world. They live under totalitarian regimes. They are despised and persecuted. Many cannot earn income because they love Jesus and because of this are not accepted by the surrounding society. Persecuted believers have no access to Scriptures and Christian literature like we do here in the West. You know, if any of them could have come to America and visit a Christian bookstore, they would be shocked to see how many copies of Bibles of different translations and design we have access to.

According to Open Doors U.S.A., each month 322 Christians are killed for their faith, 214 churches and Christian properties are destroyed and 772 believers are either beaten, raped, abducted or arrested.

Christians in the Middle East, Central Asia and other regions of the world look up to Christ and to us as their family in Christ, for help, support and encouragement. I believe that we, those that belong to the Church Triumphant in North America should never forget the suffering children of God. It is our responsibility to help. In spite of everything that is happening in America, Canada and the rest of the world today, we should not loose focus and remain mission-minded. Let us involve ourselves in cross-cultural missions. Let us increase and not cut church mission budgets. Let us pray for missionaries and encourage Christians that live in the last frontier lands!

We made it our mission - to pray for persecuted Christians in the Stans and do everything we can to help support Christian work in difficult places of our world. In April 2016, we will travel again to the Stans and minister to Christian leaders and house churches. We need input from each one of you, for the need is great and resources often are few. Many national Christian missionaries and church planters are in need of support. House churches are in need of sound teaching and mentorship.

When I travel to the last frontier lands, I ask myself a question, "How long will we be able to do this?" The answer to this question belongs to God. Only He knows how long will we be allowed to get into the Stans. But while we can, we want to do everything to support local Christians and equip them by providing for them finances for missionary travel, Bibles, hymnals and other Christian literature in printed and electronic form.

It is a reality of our world that unless people of many cultures experience change of heart, we will continue seeing full fledged persecution of Christians worldwide.

Throughout history, Christians in the West have been so wonderful to reach the unreached with the message of salvation. Hundreds of missionaries departed from England and America in the 19th and 20th centuries to India, China, Africa and other countries and regions of the world to serve people of different cultures and languages. We, Christians of 21st century, should continue this wonderful tradition passed unto us. Peter Deyneka, Sr., a missionary to Russians, once said, "There is no greater joy than leading souls to Christ."

Please, continue to support global mission work with your prayers and contributions to the glory of God. Participation of all of us is of critical importance. Some of us can give, others can pray, while the rest can go, obeying the Great Commission of Jesus, "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations..." (Mat.28:19)

David Platt wrote, "“Radical obedience to Christ is not easy... It's not comfort, not health, not wealth, and not prosperity in this world. Radical obedience to Christ risks losing all these things. But in the end, such risk finds its reward in Christ. And he is more than enough for us.”

Let us advance the Kingdom of God to places where His Gospel has not been heard before. Perhaps, today we can give less to ourselves and more to support missionary work around the world. For it is in giving that we receive and it is by His power and not by our own that we live. Soli Deo Gloria!

Support mission work HERE.