As we continue to journey through Lent, let us not forget to pray for those who worship Christ at great personal cost. Recently, I was reflecting on the intense persecution of Christian believers around the world and I was reminded of the following story.
About 150 years ago, a group of missionaries traveled to a small village in northeast India and led a man, his wife and two children to claim Christ as their personal savior. Their conversion story spread throughout the village and angered the village chief. He summoned the man before the village and demanded that he renounce his Christ or face execution.
As the man was considering this crucial decision, he began to sing, “I have decided to follow Jesus, I have decided to follow Jesus, I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back, no turning back.”
Enraged, the chief ordered the archers to shoot the man’s two children. As both of the boys lay dying on the ground, the chief asked, “Now that you have lost both of your children, will you renounce your faith? If you don’t, you will lose your wife too.”
The man replied by singing, “Though no one joins me, still will I follow. Though no one joins me, still will I follow. Though no one joins me, still will I follow. No turning back, no turning back.”
The chief became enraged and ordered the wife put to death. He asked for the final time, “Now I will give you one more opportunity to deny your faith and live. There is no one for you in the world.”
The man then sang, “The cross before me, the world behind me. The cross before me, the world behind me. The cross before me, the world behind me. No turning back, no turning back.”
Eventually the courage of this man and his family would lead to the conversion of this chief and the entire village, but he didn’t know that at that time of his death. His call was simply to be unashamed of the gospel. The death of this man and his family was a tragedy, but “what man meant for evil, God can use for good.” Gen 50:15.
Let us remember that an estimated 150,000 Christians are martyred each year because of their faith (17 Christians are martyred per hour).
Please remember to pray for our brothers and sisters around the world who practice a courageous and dangerous faith in Christ. As you pray today, please take the opportunity to watch the following video (the images are powerful).
© [The Center for Prayer & Spiritual Growth; a ministry of First Presbyterian Church in Norfolk,Virginia] and [www.thewayofprayer.com],