Friday, April 27, 2007

Precious in the Sight of the Lord....

In Psalm 116:15 we read, "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints." The psalmist is not intending to say in this passage that God likes it when His people die. Rather, the death of His saints is something that God does not allow easily. He is reluctant to see His people die because death is an enemy.

I think about that when I read of my brothers and sisters being martyred in various parts of the world. Recently three Christians were brutally tortured and killed in southeastern Turkey because of their ministry of publishing and distributing Bibles and other Christian literature. Those who killed them said that they did so to protect Islam from the spread of Christianity. Two of those who died left behind wives and children. The third had only been a Christian for two years. We do not know why God allowed these dear saints to die for their faith, but we do know that their deaths were not in vain or something that God easily allowed.

On March 26, evangelist Taddese Tefera Akufo was beaten to death by militant Muslims in Jimma, Ethiopia. He and two female coworkers were evangelizing on Merkato Street when a mob of Muslims emerged from a mosque. The two women were able to flee but the militants dragged Taddese inside the building and beat him to death. The killing was apparently a direct attack against a local evangelism campaign. In an attempt to shift the blame, local Muslims have opened a case against Christians that falsely accuses them of entering mosques in order to forcibly convert Muslims. As I think of this precious life given in the service of the Lord, I wonder why the Lord would allow it to be cut short in this way. And yet I know that "precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints." And so I am called to trust Him in the midst of unanswered questions.

On March 21, Christianah Oluwatoyin Olusase, a Christian teacher at Government Day Secondary School in Gombe, Nigeria state was brutally murdered by a group of Muslim girl students. On the evening of March 26, two sisters, Margaret and Fadhila Naoum, were repeatedly stabbed and strangled to death in their home in Kirkuk, Iraq. Two Christians in Jijiga, Ethiopia were killed in late April when Muslims threw a bomb at a funeral procession. The list goes on and on....

"Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints."

These words are a comfort to God's people in their times of sorrow and grieving. And we are grateful that because of the financial support of many Christians here in Canada that we are able to stand with the families of those who mourn and provide comfort by letting them know that they and their loved ones have not been forgotten by their brothers and sisters.

1 comment:

Jason said...

All of this is defintely horrible suffering and hard for me to wrap my mind around sitting on my couch this morning so far away. Where was God in all of it? Surely he was there with them like you he was there with Stephen,

Act 7:54-60
(54) Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him.
(55) But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.
(56) And he said, "Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God."
(57) But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him.
(58) Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul.
(59) And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit."
(60) And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

Surely they knew God’s presence and his filling of the Spirit in the midst of their incredible pain. We do not know more, but do know that God does not desert or abandon or forsake His peo
ple.
We also know that these men shall receive crowns, beautiful crowns and today rejoice in heaven with Christ. They shall have scars in heaven, wonderful scars that testify of their love for Jesus. They shall not tell us of their regret to suffer but of their gladness and their joy in it. We should not feel sorry for them, but envious. If we believe the bible and that what it says is true these three men are blessed…extremely blessed beyond what we could imagine. Do we believe it….?
God could have stopped this. He could have intervened with angels and with fire and with plagues. He didn’t. Why not? We don’t know.
But could it be that events like this will be the testimony and the witness that breaks open the country of Turkey and the Muslim world for the gospel. There is not a greater testimony than that of these men. They considered their lives worth nothing, they considered knowing and making known Jesus Christ worth more than their lives. They gave their lives for him and for Turkey. Their blood and cries proclaimed that they have a hope so sure and so full that they could do all of this knowing and believing the gospel and the resurrection.
How will a Muslim reject the identity of his religion, turning from his culture and family and friends to follow Jesus possibly paying the cost of rejection, beating, and death if he hasn’t had others go before him willing to pay that price? Without the shedding of blood the Muslim world will never be broken open for the gospel.
A few thousand years ago these kind of events where happening in coliseums, before crowds with lions and upside down crosses. Yet those events spread the gospel like a fire encompassing the Roman Empire. May they do the same today. The blood and pain and suffering of these three blessed brothers will not be wasted. God doesn’t waste the suffering of his people. May their blood be like water soaking into the earth producing a harvest of new life. A harvest of souls rushing to Jesus Christ.