Sunday, February 15, 2009

"I bear in my body the marks of our Lord Jesus"

Paul was stoned and shipwrecked. At a time when forty lashes were considered a death sentence, Paul received thirty-nine lashes not once, but five times. "Let no one cause me trouble," he says in Galatians, "for I bear in my body the marks of our Lord Jesus." Paul was a juggernaut. His body and spirit were enabled by the Holy Spirit to withstand the inhuman trials he faced during his ministry. In prison, in constant threat of death, Paul glorified God at all times. 

But that was two thousand years ago. Are there still Christians with this self-sacrificial zeal for the Kingdom? 

Indeed there are. Ten-year-old Namrata Nayak stares out of the above photo horrifically scarred by a bomb planted in her home by Hindu extremists last August. She is permanently disfigured. 

Nayak's face was severely mutilated after Hindu extremists bombed the home where she was staying on Aug. 26. They broke into the house and burned it while Nayak and her siblings hid in a small bathroom. Before exiting the home, they left a bomb in a dresser, according to the report.

While the little girl surveyed the destruction, the bomb detonated and burned her face.

The explosion also lodged shrapnel into her face, hands and back.

And what was this girl's response to the devestation inflicted upon her and her family? She forgave her attackers. 

"The world has seen my face destroyed by the fire, now it must come to know my smile full of love and peace…I want to dedicate my life to spreading the Gospel.”

“[W]e forgive the Hindu radicals who attacked us, who burned our homes…They were out of their minds, they do not know the love of Jesus. For this reason, I now want to study so that when I am older I can tell everyone how much Jesus loves us. This is my future."

The Anchoress says: "Her eyes are fearless. She is unintimidated. She looks directly at you, with a collectedness and assurance that only comes from deep interior knowledge. Namrata Nayak knows who she is. At 10 years of age, she understands the world in ways many of us never will, no matter how long we tread the stony paths."

American Christians have grown fat and complacent, perfectly willing to serve both God and money. But when they find out that serving both is impossible, many of them would choose the comfort and affluence of their lives over the suffering and hardship that they might go through in God's service. How many people I know could forgive anyone who did this to them? Could I do it? 

Most American Christians probably have very little idea about how much persecution there actually is in the world. In Arab countries, Christians can easily be murdered for their faith. In China they can be imprisoned and beaten. And in India, they can be horrifically burned and treated as outcasts. When becoming a Christian means going to church once a week, serving in "praise band" and going to Bible study once in a while, there is by default little of the vitality that comes from a faith forged in the fires of persecution. 

Christians need to suffer for Christ. They may not be burned or martyred, but they will have to give up elements of their lives that are unfit for one living in Christ. They may have to give up their time and money to aid those less fortunate. For Christians, this world is merely a test track, the results of which determine whether we will be spending eternity in heaven or hell. When Paul says he has run the race and kept the faith, it means he has completed his laps around the test track, and been found worthy of God's grace. Namrata Nayak may have a long life of ministry ahead of her, or she may not. But she, like Paul, has been tested and been indwelled by the Spirit to such an extent that she has come out of the experience stronger than ever. God Bless, Namrata. 


elisabeth said...

Thank you so much for that post. I have been thinking of that same thing lately and feel equal conviction. Let us run all out towards our goal not focusing on now but on eternity with our Lord and Savior.

sweetggirl said...

I agree with that so much. Especially the last paragraph.

Carrie R said...

Mos, I just started getting the Gospel For Asia mailings again and am going to start getting Voice Of The Martyrs. THanks for reminding us of what our brothers and sisters around the world suffer for the cross. It is no accident that God has this on our minds...Let's not say, "Well, ALL I can do is pray"--Praying is THE BEST thing we can do! Let's be on our knees!

Audrey said...

Challenging. I really enjoyed this article.

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