“I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.” Acts 9:16
These are the words of Jesus to Ananias when Saul of Tarsus had an encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus. Though Saul, who became the Apostle Paul, resorted to flight several times in his missionary work, he did not try to avoid persecution as a life style practice. Indeed in 2 Corinthians 11:23-27, Paul outlines and describes the repeated persecution he had endured for Christ.
The Bible and history are replete with examples of those who in the will of God refused to flee but stayed and endured the persecution to the point of self-sacrifice and even martyrdom.
A few years ago I was in Thailand for some organizational meetings. One of my colleagues brought a Vietnamese pastor to meet me who was in great anguish. His story touched me deeply.
Pastor Vin was at home in Vietnam one earlier evening when a parishioner knocked on the door. He had just met a sizable group of North Korean refugees who had trekked through China and become lost in the Vietnamese jungle. They were emaciated, ragged and fearful.
The Pastor invited the refugees to his home where they were fed and his people brought them adequate clothing. But what now? If discovered by the Vietnamese authorities, they would be repatriated to North Korea to certain death or life in labor camp. Their only hope was to seek asylum in neighboring Cambodia which did not have an extradition agreement with North Korea.
Then came a second knock on the door. It was the parishioner again. The Vietnamese authorities had been tipped off that North Korean refugees were in the area and were actively searching for them.
Pastor Vin knew the jungle route to Cambodia and knew what he had to do. Bidding his family farewell, he set off with the group of refugees and led them safely through the jungle to the capital of Cambodia where they successfully sought asylum as refugees.
But the Vietnamese authorities soon became aware of what the pastor had done. They notified his wife that he would be arrested and imprisoned immediately upon his arrival home. He fled further west to neighboring Thailand for safety.
The night I met him in Thailand he was in tears. His wife was scheduled for surgery the next day in the hospital back home in Vietnam. She so wanted him to be there with her during this trying time. Yet he could not safely return home. He was in a quandary. We prayed together that God would be with his wife in her medical emergency and give him wisdom to know what to do.
Later I heard from our colleague that Mrs. Vin’s surgery was successful and that Pastor Vin, knowing what he would face, returned home to Vietnam. He was immediately arrested and placed under house detention. But he used his time at home discipling new believers.
Fleeing is not the only option when persecution strikes. There are times when God’s will is for us to stay and face the music!
RESPONSE: Today I will stay in tune with God’s Spirit so that I will know what responses He wants me to make.
PRAYER: Help me Lord to be aware of Your purposes in the events and challenges of my life.