Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Deanna dressed in traditional garb of North Africa.

One of the freedoms that we enjoy and even take for granted in our country is that of worship! One of the most difficult things I have experienced outside of our borders was in North Africa. The level of bondage there is intense.

It is such a spiritually dark country. Morning after morning, I would awake with intense feelings of oppression. There is no ability to come together to fellowship or celebrate your relationship with Christ. It is in fact, illegal.

We got so unbelievably hungry to worship while there. We would steal away to the desert or mountains to praise our Savior. The longing was similar to what one feels when incredibly thirsty. The enemy rules there. He rules and it can be such a desperate feeling.

We always have our hope in Christ. They do not. They do not know the truth. They only have the joy of being together as people, and the depth of their relationships is lacking significantly as they hunger for more! Our discussions would reveal how ignorant the people really are. The lies they believe are unfathomable. Yet, they walk in them everyday, accepting them as truth because no one is telling them any different.

This same level of desperation exists in many countries outside of the USA. Especially those where Christianity is illegal, or believers are persecuted heavily for their faith.

I often wonder how we would fair as believers in those countries. What they have to withstand is so incredible that we tend to not talk about it in our Christian circles. It is too painful to realize. Many of exist in cocoons of unreality. We walk in the belief that those who suffer elsewhere, do so because of their own sinfulness.

Our Christian brothers and sisters who are being persecuted...even killed... are not being punished for their sinfulness. They are being punished for their obedience to Christ.

One believer we met while there survived solely on the few Christians that came to his country. He had been beaten and imprisoned on many occasions. He had a very small shop in which he created some leather goods. He would sell these to others like us who would find out about him through our missionary contacts.

He was not open for business on a regular basis. He would only open up when believers would come. In spite of his beatings, he continued to sew scripture verses into his work. This act alone may cost him his life.

We do not understand that kind of obedience in our culture. We consider life hard when there is a traffic jam that makes us late for work.

One man there continues to hoe a small plot of ground on a mountainside that has been handed down for generations in his family. He carries water from the valley below to moisten the seed bed. He has done this for many years. Each time with the same result. The sering hot sun wilts the plants when they begin to sprout. They die due to lack of moisture.

When asked by our missionary contact why he would continue to plant seeds in dry parched ground where there has been no measurable precipitation in years, his reply was, "perhaps it will rain!"

He held out hope that his work would somehow yield different results this time, though history revealed something different. He had HOPE!

I walked a graveyard on a mountainside that was filled with thousands of markers. Not one of them was a believer. Not one of them will reside in eternity with our Savior.

Perhaps it will rain.

Perhaps we will awake from our "sleep of lethargy" and begin to take the 'cool drink of water' we possess to nations who are ravaged by thirst.

We can offer a drink from a well that will cause them to 'thirst no more.'



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