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Piece of Clay - Job 33:6
Ever listened to a Christian speaker that made you think? I mean that one conference you went to that you replayed the sermon the whole way home? Recently, thanks to the FBC Oxford, I had the opportunity to meet and hear Nic and Ruth Ripken, former IMB Missionaries to a half a dozen countries, most of which were not Christians friendly.
The book The Insanity of God was written by Nic in response to the experiences he had working in some of the most desolate places on earth. Dark forces presented themselves in ways that the western church can only imagine. Nic and Ruth will be the first to tell you that their story is much more than just a gathering of their “stories.” They faced the heartache of losing a child and burying a child while on the field. That event, coupled with witnessing other believers suffer led to the writing of the book mentioned above. If you have not read it, I commend it.
I left my meeting with the Ripkens thinking of all that I could be doing for God. Yes, I am in ministry. Yes, I absolutely love the local church. Yes, I dearly love seeing people come to Jesus. Yes, I love when believers go and share the hope of Jesus with those who do not know it but what else can I do? That question bugs me after having a few days to mull over it.
Let me give you what I was given and then you and I can mull together. Did you know that according Wal-Mart’s own account that 70% of their shoppers (24 hour stores) between the hours of midnight to 3 AM are internationals? I am not usually up that late but Nic reports that he has gone to a local Wal-Mart in Kentucky and has started conversations with people from fourteen different nations. Wow! The nations are literally in our grocery stores and we do not need a passport to reach them.
Still the question is, “What more can I do?” Can I leave my comfort zone and strike up a conversation with a neighbor with different clothes, language and skin tone? Do I care for my comfort more than their salvation? The church in China and in Sub-Sahara Africa is experiencing unprecedented revival. Believers and churches are being born there at a rapid pace. Why? Because the local church in those places is facing unprecedented persecution. One always follows the other. Nowhere in history or in the Bible does revival proceed persecution. The name of Jesus is booming in some of the darkest places on earth.
Our version of persecution pales in comparison. You know that. Let us not let go of in freedom what our brothers and sisters hold fast to in prison. I pray that revival comes to our community and association. I pray that I see it. I pray that I can have a small part in it. The gospel is too worth it and time is too short for me to feel anything else. You agree?