Monday, November 05, 2007

To Live and Die in L.A. (or the West Bank)

This week our speaker at church was a man who starts Christian churches and schools around Ramallah and other parts of the West Bank. This is how he was introduced, “Our speaker today has a very credible and serious threat on his life so we are grateful that he is still with us… so please welcome …” He then got up and spoke without ever mentioning the threat on his life or the ministry that he does in the West Bank. He simply shared about the love of God and His acceptance of us. At one point he did mention the power of forgiveness and the need to pray for the forgiveness of those who persecute us but that was more in reference to the fire set at our church than in reference to the people who want him dead.
When he was done speaking the congregation was told, “Keep Isa in your prayers because the same people who killed Rami two weeks ago are the ones threatening his life.”
This is really the closest thing I have ever seen to the life of the early church. This is the closest I may ever get to understanding what it must have been like for Paul and the disciples of Jesus. The man I saw this week is simply counting the days until the enemy takes him down but he will not quit what God has challenged him to do.
At times it seems easy to say that we would die for Christ but mainly because we never really have to face that decision. I believe that if I was cornered and asked to “deny Christ or die” that I would gladly choose death. But if a threat was on my life that said, “quit your ministry or die”, I am not sure that I could continue. I would easily find a good reason to go somewhere else but here we see an example of a person who lives with a threat on his life everyday.
I can’t imagine what it must be like to go to work and wonder if he will arrive. What must it be like to walk from your house and hope that the people after you are not waiting on the street? Imagine the fear that must be overwhelming at times. The daily choice to live for Christ and follow His call in the face of these threats is difficult for me to fathom. Perhaps this daily reality that death lurks around every corner caused the apostle Paul to write, “For me to live is (for) Christ, and to die is gain”. I admit that my concept of this commitment to Christ and the consequence of following Him is lacking. Honestly, I am not even sure that I ever want to have this concept to become more real to me.

Truly it is easier to die for Christ, than to live for Him.

8 comments:

Stephen Baker said...

Wow! That hits hard doesn't it!!?? And here in the United States we're fighting over pews vs. chairs and which coffee pot to use on Sunday......That kind of life is so contrary to the things we as an American Church live. It's a scary thought really and I agree with you that I would not want it to be any more real than you explaining it! Yeah I'm weak and have little faith!

Kevin said...

I constantly find myself feeling empty when I read about Paul suffering for the gospel in his letters. I feel this way because I know he did suffer and counted it a blessing to suffer for the gospel. I don't have that in my life right now. I am quite comfortable, but recently have been praying to find more ways that I could suffer more for the gospel in one way or another.

Kevin said...

Oh and that was in reference to your story about people suffering for the gospel. I guess I could have mentioned where that rant came from. (in case the comment under the post didn't give it away)

patricia said...

wow...I'm speechless...
thanks for making it real to us.

God forgive me for being so wrapped up in 'stupid' stuff.

I'm praying for Isa, you and your family

living in the bubble.

nick said...

It still never ceases to amaze me how much more real the Christian walk seems outside of our comfortable bubble. It's great to be reminded of God's power and the necessity to rely on him more than we rely on ourselves.

Melis said...

ditto, Patricia. Reading this I see how selfish and wrapped up in ME I am. Convicted...
God is tapping on my shoulder to pay attention. Thanks Ryan

phamilyman said...

I've heard the OC as being described as the "Orange Curtain." I really believe it to be true. We were so very blessed by you exposing our kids to a more realistic worldview. You are continuing to teach the youth of MHC even though you are not physically present. Thanks Ryan.

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