I spoke yesterday to a group of church leaders and pastors from across India on the subject of ministering from a posture of weakness (my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness) from 2 Corinthians 12:7-10. At the conclusion I asked for their response and heard some amazing stories of persecution, suffering and God's intervention. These men and women of faith understand what it means to minister from weakness and to share in the sufferings of Christ.
In one instance a church planter told about being surrounded by radical Hindu's on a road where he was travelling by bicycle. He had on him a Bible and some tracts. The men asked him what he was carrying and he told them, "I have the gospel of Jesus for you." They told him they were going to kill him and he said, "Before your do so, you need to know which God I am serving," and handed them a tract. His comment - coming with the lack of fear that they expected scared them and they quickly backed off and left him alone. The pastor said, "They were scared and I was calm." God was obviously with him.
The church in the west knows virtually nothing about the privilege of sharing in the suffering of Christ because of our faith but we ought to be praying for those who experience it day in and day out. These men and women are my heroes. They have nothing to gain by what they do and everything to lose but they live day to day trusting God for their very food and protection. And He shows himself to be faithful in small and large ways.
Recently I wrote an endorsement for a new book entitled, The Privilege of Persecution. It is a must read for those in missions, for mission supporters and for those who care about the global church. It opens our eyes to the realities of serving God in most places on the planet where persecution is a reality but it is a book of hope as one reads stories like the one above of men and women who not only endure suffering for the cause of Christ but count it a privilege. Do we?