A Shining Light In A Dark Region
By Lois J. Stucky
“For us to be a shining light in a dark region is not a joke; sometimes it is a matter of life and death! God has sent us to minister in the most difficult places, breaking difficult grounds at the very forefront of the battleground. We are constantly engaged in spiritual warfare with the kingdom of darkness, but we are not afraid of them because we love not our lives unto death. Our work is risky, and we constantly need prayers from Christians all over the world.”
When I read the above comments in a letter from someone wanting to receive Herald of His Coming and additional materials, I was deeply moved. Are you not challenged along with me by the admirable courage and the selfless devotion displayed in following our Lord Jesus Christ out where the battle is “hot,” and where the risk is great?
In one instance, the Lord led the Christians of this particular ministry to plant a church in a little border town dominated by Muslims in northern Nigeria. It is a town which has a market where traders from Nigeria and Cameroon Republic transact business, and is strategic for reaching the area round about. It is reported that smugglers, harlots and criminals live in this little town.
It took two years of intensive prayers before they were allowed to buy a piece of land for their church building. During this period converts moved from house to house. They were finally threatened by the Islamic group that if they didn’t stop meeting, the Muslims would descend on them with a sword on Sunday and shed blood. This news stopped the Christians from meeting for three months.
One day a car drove up to the nursery school in which the pastor was teaching. A Muslim Alhaji alighted and came to the pastor, asking him to buy his piece of land for the church. All documents were duly signed by the ministry, the owner of the land and the town/village Chief. A tent was erected for meetings, until a building can be built. God’s victory!
A survey of this area which is so heavily dominated and saturated by Islamic influence, would make one feel there is no hope, says the ministry spokesman. But for ten years, there have been prayers, intercession and spiritual warfare by this ministry, for Nigeria and for the Muslim world.
It has been encouraging to notice a quiet spiritual hunger developing in the hearts of Muslims, says the spokesman. This is seen by their willingness to listen to the gospel and to accept gospel tracts with thanks, instead of tearing them up. Some are asking questions about the Christian faith, or perhaps hanging around church windows to hear teachings of the Christian faith--if their relatives are not around to see them!
It could be, the spokesman suggests, that the Muslim leaders are noticing this increasing interest and that is why they are aggressively instigating Sharia (Islamic States), which forbids younger ones from being converted to the Christian faith.
Training of pastors, evangelists, missionaries, etc. is going on, and it is for this purpose that Herald materials have been requested by this ministry. As congregations increase, additional materials are needed for their upbuilding in the faith. They are looking for dynamic materials, that which does not explain away such words of Jesus as, “If any man will come after Me let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24). All-outedness, wholeheartedness...this is what it takes to be a shining light in a dark place. This is what they want to build into the workers and congregations.
Through the gifts of you faithful friends, we have been able to send them a supply of such materials. Isn’t it a privilege to strengthen the hearts and hands of such gallant brothers and sisters in Christ? And does not their consecration make us examine our own? The letter tells that it was suggested to one young man who felt led to work with their ministry, that he go to a village where three Christian families were holding out for Jesus and urgently needed a pastor. It was suggested to the young man that he observe the situation for a month to see if he could cope with the work. He went and was back in twenty-four hours. Eventually he confessed that he saw the drinking water was so poor that he could not stay there.
How easily turned back am I from the hard things that must be endured if the Gospel is to be advanced? How strong is my love for the Lord? Am I willing to serve in “moderation” but hedge from serving “wholeheartedly”?
Great strides are being made in going with the Gospel into all the world. Modern technology is speeding up the process of proclaiming the Gospel to those who have never heard. But overall, it is the most resistant, the most militantly opposed who remain to be reached. It will take an army of stout-hearted Christians, such as the above-mentioned group, through whom the Lord’s divine plan will be carried to triumphant conclusion. Matthew records that when talking about the end of the world, Jesus said, “This Gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (Matthew 24:14).
With what a victorious tread the Gospel will go onward to all people groups if the Church functions together as the One Body God plans us to be--the stout-hearted army on the forefront face to face with enemies of the Gospel, and the home-front prayer warriors supporting with faithful, fervent prayer and needed supplies. The Apostle Paul depended on Christians throughout Christendom to support him as the “point” man progressing with the Gospel. Each one of us in the Body of Christ is to be a lively member, battling where we are, in any way we can, to make this last-hour thrust with the Gospel go “over the top.”
To be sure, “The battle is the Lord’s” ultimately (1 Samuel 17:47), but God counts on each of us to do his or her part to bring the mighty heavenly forces onto the scene and into the battle. “Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts” (Zech. 4:6).