If you have read my last post, you know it was clear, I had to go. But why? Was there going to be a big revival? Was I supposed to contact that Palestinian Muslim friend of mine and bring him the Gospel? Were we supposed to help the local disciples there? I had no idea.
On the last weeks before my departure a trend had begun about the book The Heavenly Man, from brother Yun. Torben has a very deep appreciation for this brother’s story, and had posted some things about that book on his Facebook page. I had not much time -or maybe energy- to buy it and read it at that time.
Nevertheless, while in Barcelona, someone who had an extra pair of prophecies and signs for our journey through Israel gave me a copy of that book in Spanish… so I had to read it. When I read it I was shocked about all brother Yun went through to fulfill God’s calling for him. The persecution, the torture, the prisons, the despair, the suffering, and the joy and love in spite of circumstances. It somehow confronted me with the idea that I was going now to regions in which being physically attacked or persecuted for preaching Jesus as Lord was a real possibility, and I started imagining myself in such circumstances. I was not attacked by fear nor anything like that, but it felt as if God was asking me: “If you had to be separated from your family, if you had to suffer, or to die for me, would you do it?”
That is a question that has always been extremely far from my reality. I figured out that being a Christian in those countries is no problem at all, but to preach Jesus to Muslims is illegal… and that was pretty much what I knew was going to happen. Even though the possibilities of being persecuted there were not very high, it was still possible. Would I be willing?
Since I met the Lord and began to follow him, in May 1996, the idea of physically suffering in his name was something I tried to avoid thinking about. I did mention it for inspiration or confrontation in sermons and studies, but to be honest, I did not see myself willing to suffer for his Name. But now that I serve him as His word says -or at least much closer to what I did before- I feel so different about it. I can say now, not proudly but humbly and with fearful respect, that I would be willing to do it.
I haven’t undergone any physical persecution so far, so please don’t congratulate me or give me any credit for this. Speaking is easy, doing it is another thing. But at least I have answered a question that always confronted me in my heart. When I said good-bye to my wife and kids in Malaga, I gave them instructions just in case… you never know. My wife was ready, my boys understood it too. I was glad, ready to go for it, and left encouraged and focused on the task ahead, wondering what was going to happen.
But fortunately, I am back. Some couple of things happened, but nothing serious. God didn’t allow anything bad to happen to us. I feel nonetheless that it was not the end, and I wonder what will happen in the future. I hope, I really hope, nothing will ever happen to me or my loved ones, but if it does, I should not fear it but accept it and give glory to God:
They called the apostles in again. They beat them and told them not to speak anymore using the name of Jesus. Then they let them go free. The apostles left the council meeting. They were happy because they were given the honor of suffering dishonor for Jesus. The apostles did not stop teaching the people. They continued to tell the Good News–that Jesus is the Messiah. They did this every day in the Temple area and in people’s homes.
There is still a lot to learn, but I am not competing against anyone, I’m not pursuing any position in a small religious social group, and I am not trying to impress any leader. I am just trying to please God and bear fruit. This meditation just helps me see that I am getting the heart of the New Testament gospel better, that God should be in control of our live… and our death.