Thanks to the Wednesday Senior Adult Small Group at Emmanuel Enid for their participation in December 4, 2013 effort to #freesaeed.
Back in 2000-2001, there was a Norwegian pastor in jail in Nepal who, I understand, God was using to reach the people in his homeland because while he was in jail, the papers back home were printing his sermons being written while in jail. If my memory serves me well, he was of the AOG persuasion and there were many people around the world demanding that he be immediately released from Jail because “Christians” just should not be locked up in jail.The “church” used their influence to have the Hindu man who had brought the proselyting charge against the pastor, fired from his job with the Red Cross and in my view they acted very badly. Not once did I see any discussion about what God’s purposes were for this pastor in jail. Had God place him in his mission field, be it that it was on the other side of the world to where he was in Jail.Sadly when he was released from jail, the papers stop printing his sermons, and his mission field disappeared.Now I ask you, what is God’s purpose for Pastor Saeed in the Iranian jail? Are there intercessors who are accurately hearing God’s small voice on this matter, or are people just protecting their reluctance to being challenged in a similar manner if they were asked to stand up for their belief in Yahweh ’Elohiym. If you were to travel to Iran, or Tibet, or Nepal, countries where the predominate religion is Islamic, Buddhist and Hindu, would you as a Christian be prepared to die for what you believed in if God allowed you to be in the same situation as Pastor Saeed. What would your response be to God, in that circumstance if you found yourself in jail because you were witnessing about the God that you worshipped.Pastor Saeed has his mission field in that Iran jail and the strength of his character and his religious conviction are eloquently witnessing to the guards and his fellow prisoners much more than the demands that his witnessing brothers in Christ who want him immediately released from jail.I know from personal experience, being isolated in a foreign country, that I would rather have people fall to their knees on my behalf and asked God to reveal himself to me on a daily basis to strength me and to comfort me as I witness to those around me, to the best of my abilities so that God’s Glory can be seen.What sort of God do we worship if God will do our bidding when we demand it? Who in reality in that circumstance is the God that we worship? Who is at the centre of our very existence, God?It is prophesied in Jeremiah 51 that the countries associated with the Coalition of the Willing will be infiltrated by locusts and that these people will begin to oppress the people in those countries and even though their numbers may be small, they will claim our countries as their own and impose their will on us during this time.What will you do then? Berate them because they will be causing you trouble and expect them to back off?When this time comes, your faith and beliefs will be sorely tested. How will you want people in other lands to intercede for you when this happens?Oh it can feel good to sign a petition of demand and believe that we are doing our little bit, but is not God asking us to responsibly intercede for those Christian who are being turned into martyrs every day as we exercise our present liberty to worship the “god/God” of our choice.Wade, they may have done a good thing but what is God really calling His saint to do on His behalf? Oh by the way, I was asked to leave a church because I had a very different understanding of what God wanted His Saints to be doing because it was to “dangerous/uncomfortable” for them to even consider.ShalomTom Ross
Tom,I do not disagree with your premise. When Paul was in jail, he asked not that people pray he be released, but that God might expand the kingdom through his faithfulness in proclaiming the gospel "whether in bonds or free."However, in Philippi, the church met all night to pray for the release of Peter. In April, Rachelle and I were at that very prison. The Lord miraculously released Peter from jail.Whether someone should remain in jail or be released is ultimately a matter of Providence. Jesus said, "We have not because we ask not," and one of the indicators for what we should ask is the request of the kingdom followers who know and love Saeed. His wife, kids, and family have petitioned the church to not be silent, and to pray that their father, husband and family member (Pastor Saeed) be released.We are doing our part for the persecuted church around the world, but I agree with you that God has a purpose whether Saeed is released or not.But we will not stop doing our part to make his release happen.
And he went forward a little, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass away from me: nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will." Matthew 26:39 (ASV) Not a bad way to pray when faced with ANY painful, seemingly unbearable issue we face in life. Free the Pastor, but your purpose be fulfilled regardless. Not fatalism but faith in the knowledge and character of the one Who is Himself working behind all things.
Wade,When I was overseas in an oppressive country, I could sense when and how people were praying. When they were being led by the HS in their prayers there was a sense of joy within me and of being able to achieve the impossible. I could also sense heaviness on me when people were praying prays which were not in keeping with the Lord’s desire for me and my difficulties increased.Yes it is natural for the family to want their dear one back home, and they have the more difficult task of understanding what God’s purposes are within the circumstances that the family find themselves in. The family also needs prayer for peace, for an understanding of what God is doing within their circumstance, for patience, protection of their faith, for a deepening of their personal relationship with God, etc. to name just a few of the possibilities of how we should pray.Let me give a personal example. I was in a home group and one night, one of the people there asked for prayer so that his investment house could sell quickly. People quickly implored the Lord for the house to sell and the gentleman was well pleased with the fine word used to meet his request/demand until I prayed led by the HS. I did not pray for the house to be sold but that the gentleman would come to understand what the LORD wanted him to do with the house and with the proceeds of the sale. He became very angry with me that night because it was not what he wanted to hear.A number of months later, he came to me and thanked me for my insight and prayer. Yes he had sold his house without any hassles, but only after he had come to understand what the Lord wanted Him to do. So when we pray for others, it should always be at the leading of the HS.Yes Pastor Saeed may not be making the headlines in Iran or in the rest of the world for that matter, but the witness in that country and the Muslim World of him and his family is having a far greater impact than we could ever imagine. Iran is a country where to become a Christian means that people have to put their lives into the protective hands of their/our Father God. Pastor Saeed is ably witnessing this fact. Praise the Lord.The top twenty countries where Christianity is growing fastest are in countries where opposition to Christianity is greatest. A blog that provides the latest stats on this can be found here http://davidjoannes.com/top-20-countries-christianity/Notice that a number of countries in this list are predominately Muslim and that Honour killing of someone who has “converted” to Christianity away from Islam is acceptable within those countries.It is what we are prepared to give up to receive the treasure beyond measure that becomes the issue in all of our livesChristianity has more meaning when we have to put our lives on the line daily.ShalomTom Ross.
Tom, would your take be the same if it were your son in an American jail, on death row, for something he didn't do? Would yours be a position of thoughtful philosophizing?
Bob Cleveland said...Tom, would your take be the same if it were your son in an American jail, on death row, for something he didn't do? Would yours be a position of thoughtful philosophizing? (Fri Dec 06, 01:17:00 PM 2013)Bob,If you or I were put in a foreign jail with a death penalty hanging over us for proselytising in that foreign country would I or you be in a position to really argue with God over my/your fate and to demand a different outcome to the one pending. If my/your relationship with God is strong does it really become my/your concern if the foreign country should take my life if my future outcome is secure because of my/your present existing relationship with God and the knowledge that the second death will not consume me/you?It is not a position of thoughtful philosophizing as you have suggested but it is a position of faith and belief and trust in the God that I knowingly and purposely worship after careful consideration.Now with regards to your posed question: -I have two Grandchildren who have a disease where the likely outcome is death at a young age, even before they reach adulthood. However, I do not focus on that potential outcome, but instead I give glory because of the response that they hold within their circumstances that has been forced onto them.Recently one of them had her life expectancy doubled by the doctors based on her general overall health.Oh the joy that we had over that little piece of news but the death sentence was still not removed from over her life.Is it not written: - Matthew 10:26-28: - (26) "So have no fear of them; for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. (27) What I tell you in the dark, utter in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim upon the housetops. (28) And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.ShalomTom Ross.
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