What if I told you a story of God bringing a pagan man to salvation through the reading of His Word. What If I told you that God spoke to this man in a vision, protected him through an onslaught of persecution, performed miraculous signs by his hands and though he was stripped of all his belongings, abandoned by his family and brutally tortured at the hands of his enemies, sparked a gospel movement of underground believers across his city in a place where no previous churches existed. Would you ask me which chapter in the Bible I got it from?
What if I told you this is happening right now?
Last week, I was blown away to hear this story of faith and persecution, first hand, from a brother serving on the front lines in North Africa. I would encourage you to take the time to listen as well. The story is given over three, thirty minute episodes from a podcast by Snowbird Wilderness Outfitters, the summer camp where our students will be heading in just a few short weeks. Brody Holloway, the camp director and podcast host, is also the pastor of Red Oak Church, a Southern Baptist congregation who have been actively supporting both the missionaries involved and “Amir,” the brother at the center of this riveting narrative that continues to unfold.
As I continue to process and think through the implications of this story, a few things have challenged me.
- It is one thing to say we believe in the God who used Peter to raise the dead and Paul to cast out demons, but it’s another to fully take Jesus at His Word when he says,
“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.” (John 14:12-14)
There have never been any limits on what the Spirit can accomplish through us other than our faith. Do I live and move each day knowing that the God of wonders (Psalm 136:3-4) is with me? Am I bold enough to believe that God can do the impossible, if I step out in faith?
- There is a ferociousness to the faith and evangelism in this story that makes my Western experience seem tame by comparison. Though we must remember that the Spirit is like the wind that blows where it wishes (John 3:8) and it is wrong to specifically seek signs other than those already given (Matthew 12:38-39), God’s power seems to uniquely accompany those that empty themselves of everything else. Amir was forced to find out just how much he was willing to lose – and has gained more than he could have ever imagined.
And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. (Luke 9:23–24)
Can we stand beside Amir and confidently say, “I, too, have left everything to follow Jesus”? What do we stand to gain by letting go of the comforts we cling to? I wonder if we wouldn’t see a movement of God like the one currently sweeping a Muslim community just across the ocean.