On November 3, the church recognized International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. As I thought about and prayed for my brothers and sisters who are persecuted for their faith in Jesus, I also thought about being a martyr. I hear testimonies of people who have laid down their lives for the sake of the Gospel – and I think, “And that is worth it.”
I know that it is worth it to live for Jesus, and to lay down my life for His sake.
But why do I somehow think that living for Jesus is not worth losing sleep over, or is not worth being inconvenienced by? That being Jesus’ disciple is not worth giving up my comfortable life for?
I do believe that following Christ is worth giving my life and my everything for. But very often, the choices I make and the way I live my life do not reflect that.
Something is wrong here. Following Jesus IS worth everything. So I need to start living like it.
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.” – Matthew 16:24-25
- Gospel For Asia -supported missionary Samuel stands beside his wife. A jail term on false accusations has kept them apart for more than five years.
Jharkhand, India, is home to thousands of insurgent Naxalites fighting for communist control. After a vicious fight that left 19 policemen dead, authorities were on the lookout for the Naxalite rebels behind the attacks. They believed they found one in 2004, and this “rebel” has been serving time in jail since then. But this man wasn’t one of the Naxalites. He was Gospel for Asia-supported missionary Samuel.
When it first happened, Samuel’s leaders tried everything they could to get him released. But the police were convinced Samuel was the man they wanted. With continued appeals and court cases, time dragged into years. But Samuel has remained firm in his faith—and his calling as a missionary—the entire time.
“Many of our missionaries face extremely difficult and unexpected circumstances,” said Gospel for Asia President K.P. Yohannan. “But they know these are normal challenges for servants of God working in such unreached areas where the powers of darkness are so strong. These missionaries are willing to face these unexplainable circumstances and continue on. And God is blessing their sacrifice.”
During his time in jail, Samuel has brought his ministry there. Today he leads prayer meetings for the criminals, also worshiping with them during Sunday and Friday gatherings. The jail authorities have come to trust and appreciate Samuel, whose influence has changed many prisoners’ lives forever. Nearly 20 inmates found new hope in Christ.
“I was totally depressed in this situation, but the Lord helped me to realize He has a special plan for me to be in the prison,” Samuel wrote. “The Lord is helping me to share the love of Jesus with the prisoners. Through my ministry, I see the transformation that is happening in the lives of the prisoners.”
However, Samuel’s wife and daughter are still on the outside, waiting and praying for Samuel to return home to them. Gospel For Asia leaders are making sure his family’s needs are met during this time of separation.
“These missionaries are willing to face these unexplainable
circumstances and continue on. And God is blessing their sacrifice.”
—Dr. K.P. Yohannan
Gospel For Asia correspondent writes that the court situation seems to be turning in Samuel’s favor. They continue to hold out hope and pray for his release.
Gospel For Asia leaders and Samuel’s family request prayer that in God’s timing, his innocence will be proven and he can go home. Samuel desires to reach as many people as possible during his time in jail, and he prays the new Christians’ faith will grow strong. Samuel and his family need prayer for the Lord to be near them during these difficult years.*
I can’t imagine being thrown in jail just because I’m a missionary. Samuel’s story reminds me of Hebrews 13:3 “Remember the prisoners, as though in prison with them, and those who are ill-treated, treated, treated, treated, since you yourselves also are in the body.” Wow, I am not sure what it is like in prison or jail but it doesn’t seem very nice. There are hundreds, if not thousands of brothers and sisters around the world who are in prison and are ill-treated on a regular basis. Man I am so blessed to be in America where I can have a Bible and go to church and pray and share my faith in public. Please pray with me for our brothers and sisters around the world. Specifically pray for Brother Samuel. He has a court date at the end of this month. If the courts will hear his case, he has a good chance of being released as a free man and will be united with his wife and daughter. Also, pray for the men he has led to the Lord in the prison that their faith will grow strong.
* You can read more stories of what the Lord is doing on the mission field