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Friday, 27 September 2013

Real treasure.

This morning, my personal devotions were centred on Matt.10:16-41 - a passage that concerns the persecution that the disciple of Jesus will face.  Then, in my mail, I received a communication from Open Doors (see My Favourite Links, below) that contained a drawing by a 13-year-old Syrian girl, which she produced during trauma counselling.  In the drawing, she expresses the dreadful situation in that country with harrowing images of death and violence.  However, she also brings out her trust in the protection, and the promises, of the Lord.  Alongside the drawings of tanks, and of dead bodies and blood, was one item that particularly caught my eye.  It is the drawing of an open treasure chest, filled with gold - and with a copy of the Bible sitting on the top!  This child is obviously well aware that the written Word of God is of more value than all of the gold that this planet Earth contains.

I also received my copy of the bi-monthly International Prayer Bulletin (issue 320 - meaning that it has been faithfully published for more than half-a-century!).  In it, I was advised of the current amazing move of God among Muslims.  For example, over the past seven years, some 6,000 new Christian communities have been established in 18 African countries - among Muslim tribes!  Missions expert Jerry Trousdale, in his book Miraculous Movements (Thomas Nelson, 2012), reckons that upward of 200,000 Muslims have come to a saving faith in the Lord, Jesus Christ, in that time.  Hallelujah!

Trousdale also tells the story (one of many!) of a group of Christian leaders who were gathered for a meeting in a mountain retreat.  While they were praying at mid-day, several Muslim leaders suddenly appeared and surrounded them.  The group was justifiably concerned - but kept on praying.  When they had finished, the group surrounding them approached.  They were from a distant region, and they had come with their Imam (a spiritual leader) with a request.  

"Please," they said, we have not come to harm you.  But we have a request.  Please send us the Storytellers!"  These Muslim leaders had observed other communities in their area in which many had become followers of Jesus, and they had noticed a dramatic change in people's lives - broken families now in unity; a sense of love and compassion among the people; an ending to old hostilities and vendettas - and they wanted the same thing in their own community.

Jerry Trousdale says, "It's not about telling them, 'this is the wrong thing' or, 'that is the right thing'.  It's about sharing the Word of God with them, letting them discover God.  And, once they want to obey it, they have no choice.  It is the true freedom of God; it is the whole freedom. ... You just teach people to obey Him, and they will then make their choices."

So, the bottom line seems to be that the people stop doing what they used to do because they want to obey the Lord Jesus; not because they want to be religious people.  It is true Gospel transformation!

Of course, one doesn't have to be an African Muslim in order to experience this life-changing miracle.  It's available to all who will come to Jesus, confessing their sins, and their inability to do anything about them; repenting; accepting the wonderful offer of salvation that He won for us on the cross at Calvary; and living our lives in obedience to Him, Whom to serve is freedom indeed!

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