I meet them wherever I go in closed countries around the world. They are just entering the prime of life. In age, in their late thirties; in education, superior; in experience, successful; in giftedness, uncommon; in dedication, unparalleled. They are willing to risk all for Christ--freedom, family, finances, their future.
They are frequently visited by the police. Some are warned, some are harassed, some have their lives threatened, and some have said, "Kill me-I won't stop proclaiming Christ." Some occupy positions of great significance in their societies, having graduated from prominent universities. At least a few have studied in the West and gone back home out of a passion to serve Christ. They could " have been free, but they chose to return home because of love for their Lord and their land.
Some have been successful entrepreneurs, some corporate leaders. I have met single and married women with advanced degrees who held significant positions in multi-national corporations with glamorous roles, opportunities for international travel, power, and wealth, who freely gave this up to serve the lowest of the low. And they do this in the name of Christ.
All the wives of the leaders I have met are as committed as their husbands. They are the ones who would be left behind to protect and provide for their children if their husbands were jailed. Yet they take the same risks as their husbands, teaching and ministering in the name of Christ.
Why? Why do they risk freedom, family, finances and future for Christ?
As best I can tell these men and women have three reasons for taking such great risks.
First, because of their conviction that Jesus really is Lord. Some are third and fourth generation believers. They saw their parents and grandparents suffer for Christ, so they know what they are doing when they take the same stand.
Others knew nothing of Christianity in their youth. They came to Christ out of the futility and emptiness of their previous way of life. He was the least likely Light at the end of their long search for reality. Either way these leaders are convinced He is both Lord and Light, the only Light in the darkness around them.
The second reason why they take such risks is because of the call of Christ on their lives. They simply cannot deny His call. No matter how hard they resist, in the end they must respond to Him, whatever they face. It is the combination of conviction and call that leads them to their third reason for following Jesus so radically.
The third reason is commitment. They are committed---dedicated, determined--to follow Him. They know they follow the Man who carried the cross on His back and they know they must join Him and carry the cross on their backs.
So they are convinced, called, and committed, and that's why they risk everything--freedom, family, finances, future--to serve unseen, unknown, and unvalued by most of the society around them. This is what gives them the courage and confidence to trust Jesus totally.
The answer to the question why raises a second question. Why not? Why wouldn't we respond the same way?
Questions to Ponder:
- Think of what it means for you to be free, to go where you want, to do what you will, to be who you are. What if Christ called you to give up your freedom and be put in a horrible prison for years at a time.? Would you do it? Why? Why not?
- Think about your family and what they mean to you. What if Christ called you to risk their safety, education, and career opportunities? Would you do it? Why? Why not?
- Think about your financial security. What if Christ called you to assume a role that would always leave you at risk financially? Would you do it? Why? Why not?
- Think about your future, your hopes, dreams, and plans. What if Christ called you to turn away from this and risk all? Would you do it? Why? Why not?
- Hard decisions. Think about it. They have—and that's why they're convicted, called, and committed.