Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving;
Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.
For the Lord is the great God,
And the great King above all gods.
Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18
Happy Thanksgiving from The Voice of the Martyrs.
What would it be like to live in a village that was nearly impossible to drive to? When visitors manage to travel to this type of village, people come pouring out of their homes to see what all the commotion is about.
Not long ago, I visited a place like this in Nepal. As we drove out of the city one morning, and made our way through some small towns, we finally met a brother on the corner of a small road. Of course, I was still in a bit of a jet lag fog since Nepal’s time-zone is 11 hours and forty-five minutes ahead of where I live. I didn’t quite understand why we were getting out of our vehicle already. Then, it became clear. We were leaving our car and crawling into his four wheel drive vehicle so that we could drive up that road? Really? I guess you could call that a road…it looked more like a path to me. But he skillfully drove to the top of a steep incline, sliding through the mud along the way.
After we exited his vehicle and walked down a muddy path, we took our shoes off and ducked into a room that was filled with excitement. It was a church, and there were at least 80 people squeezed in. They knew we were coming, and many of them left early that morning to walk to this meeting. They were there to receive Bibles — and they were ready!
After listening to them sing, and sharing a brief word of encouragement with them, we began opening boxes. People sat patiently as we hand-delivered stacks of Bibles to various parts of the room, where they were evenly distributed. Smiles were all around as these dear sisters and brothers clung to their new Bibles. Many of them had experienced persecution and marginalization for years without being able to find encouragement from their own copy of the Bible.Showing a Bible story book to a Hindu neighbor
These types of distributions happen in many of the 64 countries that VOM worked in last year. Our goal is a “Bible for Every Believer.” What is remarkable about this goal is that many of the believers we serve are in the most hostile and restricted places on earth. Places where is it possible to be killed just for possessing contraband — like a Bible.
In spite of these restrictions and risks, these bold believers continue to stand for Christ and to attempt to live at peace with their neighbors. It reminded me of Paul’s admonition to the Church at Rome, a Church that understood what it meant to be marginalized: “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:18-21).
That morning, we also distributed Children’s Bible story books. I was so pleased to see the young girl in this picture sharing her story book with a neighbor. As soon as our meeting was over, she ran out the door where her Hindu neighbor boy was waiting. We smiled at him and then she asked him if he wanted to see her new book. Of course he did! He couldn’t wait to check it out! He began to excitedly flip through the pages, and I have a feeling that he’ll get a chance to read the entire book before long.
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone…
Dr. Jason Peters serves in VOM’s International Ministries department, traveling frequently to meet with our persecuted brothers and sisters around the world. He has ministered in 35 countries, as diverse as Cuba, India, Nepal, Saudi Arabia, Burma, Sri Lanka, Colombia, Kyrgyzstan, Bangladesh, Thailand, Indonesia and Nigeria. Before joining VOM’s team, Jason was a faculty member of the US Air Force Chaplain Corps College, where he directed Crisis and Trauma training. Jason, his wife, Kimberly, and their five children are actively engaged in standing with their persecuted sisters and brothers.
He has also set eternity in the hearts of men. Ecclesiastes 3:11
One by one the arrows struck his flesh, and one by one Stanley Albert Dale pulled them out and broke the cane shafts over his knee. The blood flowed from his many wounds and onto the riverbank. The screaming Yali warriors feared that the white man, or duong, was immortal.
Already, the Yali in another village had tried to kill Dale. They were frightened by his message, for his followers had burned their traditional idols and places of spirit worship. They had also shot Dale, but the duong had walked away and completely healed.
Dale had come to the mountains of Irian Jaya (today’s Indonesia) in the 1960s to share Christ’s love. Now facing hundreds of screaming warriors, he pulled arrows out of his body as fast as they pierced his skin. These Yali had been warned that the Spirit inside him was very powerful. Finally, Dale and the other missionary fell. More than sixty broken arrows were piled at Dale’s feet. The warriors then dismembered his body parts for fear that they would rise again.
The Yali thought that would be the end of the gospel message in their valley, but it was not. Other Christians came, and many of the same warriors who had fired arrows into Dale’s body became believers. The duong who would not die now celebrates Jesus alongside his own converted murderers.
Although the Yali thought Dale’s earthly body was immortal, it was actually his soul that would not die. The missionaries who followed in Dale’s wake helped the Yali understand eternity. They shared God with the Yali. Think for a moment about what events, people, and things took the bulk of your time this past week. Certainly, the practicalities of life call us to deal with things that are hardly eternal issues: dirty diapers, ringing phones, dry cleaning, and soccer practice. However, Dale’s story reminds us to prioritize things that matter for eternity. What part of your daily life does have eternal significance? If you don’t make time for it, who will?
[Disclosure: VOM is a member of the Amazon Associates program, and if you click on the previous link and order a copy of Lords of the Earth, VOM will recieve a small portion of the sale price.]