The Unexpected Gift of Persecution
07/15/2020 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – If you look at the scope of persecution from a surface level, it’s easy to become discouraged.
However, when I spoke with a pastor in China, he provided an immense amount of perspective. Although he said that he wouldn’t freely choose it, he recognized persecution for the gift that it is.
History has shown us that life’s trials lead to some of the greatest seasons of revival. Thank you for standing by our brothers and sisters in the midst of their pain.
If you could do a quick survey of the world, at least looking at the Church around the world, it’s not that encouraging. And I want to do that as an exercise. This isn’t the whole Church. These are honestly some of the low spots, but look at the Middle East or even Iraq more specifically. So in the last 20 years, there has been a huge Exodus of Christians. And even with Iraq, there used to be one and a half million Christians about 20 years ago. And now there’s about 200,000. You go down to Nigeria, 50 to 70,000 Christians killed in the last 20 years. Millions, literally millions of Christian farmers pushed off their lands by armed Muslim attackers. And then go to China. China is ruled by a brutal dictator. This is the worst crackdown the Church has seen in 40 years. North Korea, enough said. I don’t think I even need to say anything.
And then circle all the way back to the United States where I’m filming from. And what do you see? Terrible division for Christians, you’re seeing a rise of hatred, restriction of free speech, etc. And like I said, if you just look on the surface, it could be a depressing story. But my answer to all that is a message from the persecuted Church. And this happened to me personally. So a whole lot of years ago, I was in China, on one of my trips to China and I asked for a meeting with pastors who had been in prison for 10 or more years. And so I had a long meeting with them and it was just a treasure. And I asked them any number of questions. And one of the questions I asked was I said, “Tell me about persecution.”
And here’s what they said. They said, “Persecution is a gift.” I said, “It’s not a gift of our choosing. We would never choose it.” But it is a gift because it keeps the Church pure. And I asked them any number of questions, which if I had more time I’d go into each of them as a sermon, it’s amazing. But the last one, the last one, I said, “What’s your biggest worry about the Chinese Church? “And here’s what they said. They said that, our biggest worry about the Chinese Church is this and that is that the younger guys coming up after us, they have not been in prison and tortured and hunted and killed, like we were. That was their biggest worry. If you look at Church history, I think that’s so much of what you see that the Church has been under attack continually, for so much of the time, we’ve had a gun to our back and a knife to our throat.
And this is what Jesus told us. He said, “If they hated me, they’re going to hate you. They’re going to persecute you.” He told us that plainly. And so the Church grows not in spite of persecution, the Church grows because of persecution. So we’re going to survive as a Church. The Church is going to survive. It’s even going to thrive.
So our numbers may go up. They may go down. But honestly, I think that needs to happen. There’s a whole bunch of people in the Church that shouldn’t be in the Church, they are there for the wrong reasons. And that’s what persecution does. It just cleans out so many people and creates a pure Church. Do you know what kills the Church? It’s not persecution. It’s wealth. It’s ease. It’s influence. Those are the Church killers. I’ll tell you when I look around our country and when I look at the Church, our country, around the world for the most part, and then I compare it with the persecuted Church, I say, what we need is revival.
Revival is an old fashioned word, but it’s just a word to describe what happens when the Lord visits our culture and our country. And he turns it upside down for himself. It’s the most amazing thing. And we haven’t seen it in this country for a while, but it comes in waves and we’re due, but we have to cry out.
Next week, I’m going to be back and I’m going to talk about a real world example from the persecuted Church of revival and what happens. It all happened because of persecution. The Church exploded because of intense, terrible persecution. So I just want you to look at the world. I want you to look at history through God’s eyes, and these are days that can birth something truly special in the Church. If we cry out to the Lord for ourselves and for our nation, for revival, for purity. All right? I will see you next week.