NO TURNING BACK
One of the blessings of teaching Standing Strong Through the Storm (SSTS) is the opportunity to meet special people in ministry who, though unassuming at first glance, have experienced deep riches in relationship with Jesus. I met such a person in a jungle camp seminar in central Sri Lanka.
His English name was Samuel and he was a seasoned church planter. From Samuel I learned that church planting in a Buddhist country is no easier than anywhere else religious intolerance raises its head. I always thought Buddhism was a pacifist religion and philosophically it is. But try and plant a church in a dominant Buddhist community and you will see something different.
One day Samuel began to share with me about his ministry. He had been dedicated to the Buddhist temple as a young child by his mother, just like his biblical namesake. As a young monk he was impressed by the witness of a Christian youth who led him to faith in Christ. He left temple life and felt called to be a Christian church planter. With his wife and two small children he moved to a new community and began to share Jesus. The villagers stoned his residence and when he would not desist, they burned it down.
He moved to another community and was attacked physically with severe wounds. In the next location the villagers schemed against him and his family. They cut the main posts of his home and worship center. At night they tied rope to the posts and pulled them out while the family was asleep. He knew God was with him. Two large structural beams fell down parallel to where the children were sleeping and neither of them was touched.
He continued on and I finally interrupted with the question, “How many times did this happen and you had to move on?”
Samuel smiled and answered, “Thirteen times!”
Of course, in my western way of thinking I asked, “How could you continue on and persevere through so many attacks?”
He replied, “It’s like the song we sang this morning at the SSTS seminar, ‘I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back!'” And he quickly went on to say with a bigger smile, “Last month twenty-five people in my new community were baptized and I currently have another twenty-five in a baptismal preparation class.”
Jesus gives strength to carry on and not turn back.
Today I resolve to not allow petty challenges dampen my commitment to follow Jesus.
Thank You, Lord, for Samuel’s testimony of Your faithfulness. Help me never to turn back from following and serving You.