Today is International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, a day when believers everywhere are invited to pray for those who live under threat for following Christ.
I receive a daily email from Open Doors, an organization that serves persecuted believers around the world. This week, I read the following words from Helen Roseveare, who was a missionary to Congo, Africa, from 1953-1973. (I’ll warn you, this is not easy to read!)“During the Simba uprising in the Congo, I was raped twice. Government soldiers came to my bungalow, ransacked it, and then grabbed me. I was beaten and savagely kicked, losing my back teeth through the boot of a rebel soldier. They broke my glasses, so I could not see to protect myself from the next blow.
“Then one at a time, two army officers took me to my own bedroom and raped me. They dragged me out into a clearing, tied me to a tree, and stood around laughing. And while I was there, beaten and humiliated and violated, someone brought out the only existing hand-written manuscript of a book I had been writing about God’s work in the Congo over an eleven-year period. They put it on the ground in front of me and burned it.
“I asked myself, Was it worth it? Eleven years of my life poured out in selfless service for the African people and now this? The minute I expressed that, God’s Holy Spirit settled over that terrible scene and He began to speak to me.”
‘“My daughter, the question is not “Is it worth it?” The question is, “Am I worthy?” Am I, the Lord Jesus who gave His life for you, worthy for you to make this kind of sacrifice for Me.’ And God broke my heart,” Helen continues. “I looked up and I said, ‘Oh Lord Jesus, yes, it is worth it, for You are worthy!’” She concludes, “When you ask the right question, you’ll always know that He is absolutely worthy of anything you can give Him or do for Him!”
Helen returned to Congo after all the above and continued her life of service for Jesus among the African people.
When I look at my life, I have to wonder if I have been asking the right question. The fact is, if I keep the focus on me, on my cost, on my discomfort, my answer will always be “No, it’s not worth it”. The trouble is, since I didn’t start out asking the right question, my answer is not right, either.
“Am I worthy?” I think it’s easy to say God is worthy, and to talk about how Jesus gave up ‘everything’. But, do we truly understand what that means?
If we grasp even a tiny bit of His worthiness, the cost to our lives in comparison is so miniscule as to be ‘statistically insignificant’ – not even a part of the equation. Perhaps that’s why we don’t spend much time pondering this!
Today, there are believers suffering what Helen suffered – and worse! Satan knows his time grows shorter each day that they stand firm, and so his attacks are brutal and relentless. We need to be in prayer for our brothers and sisters undergoing persecution, asking the Holy Spirit to strengthen them to endure, because He is worthy.Satan knows that for the Western church, the seduction of personal comfort and convenience is an effective way to stifle the Gospel. The Holy Spirit can strengthen us, too, to refuse to allow our worship of comfort to get in the way of our worship of our Holy, Almighty God. And so, we need to be in prayer for each other, because He is worthy.
All of us need to spend significant time meditating on the worthiness of Jesus. I believe that if we do, we will be able to say with Helen that “He is absolutely worthy of anything you can give or do for Him.”
If He is not, we need to stop this silly farce and just do our own thing. But, if He is… oh, friends, if He is, may we be worthy to give up anything and everything for His glory!