God at Large

From Philip Yancey:

A friend of mine recently returned from a visit to Asian countries where Christians are experiencing persecution. Christians in Malaysia told him, “We’re so blessed, because in Indonesia they’re killing Christians, but here we just have to put up with discrimination and restrictions on our activities.” In Indonesia, where Christians are indeed dying for their faith, they told him, “We’re very blessed, because in Malaysia they can’t freely publish the gospel. Here, we still can.” The church in Indonesia values the power of words.

My job as a writer affords me the opportunity to visit a variety of countries, including some that oppress Christians. I have noticed a striking difference in the wording of prayers. When difficulties come, Christians in affluent countries tend to pray, “Lord, take this trial away from us!” I have heard persecuted Christians and some who live in very poor countries pray instead, “Lord, give us the strength to bear this trial.”

Allen Yuan had served a term or twenty-two years at hard labor for holding  unauthorized church meetings in China. When he emerged from prison and returned to church, he announced that he had kept a daily count on his dangerous job, and had coupled together one million railroad cars without an injury. “God answered your prayers for my safety!” he rejoiced. Working near the Russian border without warm clothing, he had also avoided serious illness all that time.

According to some estimates, Christians in developed Western countries now represent only 37 percent of believers worldwide. As I travel and also read church history, I have observed a patter, a strange historical phenomenon of God “moving” geographically from place to place: from the Middle East to Europe to North America to the developing world. My theory is this:

God goes where he’s wanted.

That’s a scary thought in a country like the United States, home to five hundred satellite TV channels for diversion and entertainment. (From Finding God in Unexpected Places, p 57-60)

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Filed under Courage, Faith, Surrender

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