As many of you know, I recently returned from a month in Bangladesh and India, working with people of many faiths on religious freedom issues. I also had the privilege to fellowship with and teach people from the indigenous churches.
To give you a brief glimpse, I visited Orissa, India, where since August Hindu extremists have killed dozens of Christians, burned over 4,000 churches and homes, and driven some 25,000 into hiding in the jungle. Police have been helpless to overcome the violent mobs and in some cases have been complicit in the attacks. The extremists continue to tell Christians they must convert to Hinduism if they want to return home, and many who remained in their villages have already been forcibly “converted” to Hinduism.
The Hindu extremists claim that the violence is due to aggressive Christian evangelism that destroys local Hindu culture, and so the Indian government has said one of its responses to the violence will be to enforce existing anti-conversion laws aimed at curbing Christian mission work. Despite all these difficulties, one Indian Christian leader told me that he remains confident: “Ultimately there will be justice. God will prevail. People will know the truth.”
In Bangladesh, a Muslim-background woman told me that she and her adult children converted to Christianity after her husband died. After many years they are still the only Christians in their village of 100 Muslim families. In the beginning, the villagers pillaged and destroyed her small store, beat her, shunned her, and even threw feces at her door. She was thinking one day of where she could go to escape when she heard the Lord tell her to stay put: “If you leave, the people will not receive the light.” So she stayed. When her neighbors came and mocked her, she thanked them. That was in 2005. Today there is a meeting of seekers in her home every Friday night.
This is how the Kingdom of God is growing in the most challenging circumstances— with love, obedience, and faith. Thank you for your prayers for me while I was gone. I’ve learned a lot and hope to share more with you this Sunday after service.
In His grace,
I see similarity to the case of Martin Luther King, Jr. when he was ready to give up and leave Birmingham because of the threats on his life. It was then that he heard the voice in his kitchen telling him to "Preach the Gospel, stand up for truth, stand up for righteousness". Through out his life he credited that night as exceptional and the source of his courage. In both cases the person was ready to give up and leave the hostile situation when they heard the voice of God encouraging them to stay to spread the gospel.