06/30/2022 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – I was told about “Ruth” years ago when I worked with the families of imprisoned Christians in China.
Ruth was involved in the underground printing of Christian books and Bibles. This was incredibly important work. So important that the government searched diligently for the source of those printed materials. They swam upstream and eventually made their way to Ruth.
Ruth was arrested and sentenced to several years in prison, but she was determined to use her prison time for God – and boy, did she!
We received reports from believers imprisoned with her about Ruth’s ministry in prison. They said Ruth would beam with constant joy in a situation that would break most people. That joy opened the hearts of her fellow prisoners. She constantly shared the gospel and brought others to Christ.
In her one to two years in prison, she composed over 30 Christian songs, which she then taught to those around her.
A released fellow inmate said she had only seen Ruth unhappy three times in two years.
That’s all pretty incredible, but there’s more to the story.
When Ruth was sentenced, she was the mother of a toddler. But she said to the Lord, “If my assignment is a prison, I will go and minister there.” Her husband had to care for their son alone. He wasn’t angered or upset about it, though. He said, “Compared to what Christians have suffered throughout history, we consider this almost nothing. If you want to work for God, this is quite reasonable.”
This is another example of how the persecuted church is a gift to the “free” church. It is like a mirror held up to our faces. We look and say, “If that is a Christian, then what am I?” This is part of why we serve this amazing group of believers around the world.
If you are like me, you’re struck to the core by Ruth’s example. I am not like Ruth. My “spiritual gift” tends to be grumbling. I feel sorry for myself at the slightest discomfort.
But the persecuted are dedicated, selfless, and full of love and joy. They point to the way we should go and the way we should live. They have abandoned the world and are “all-in” for God.
Oh, what a lesson to us in the free church, where we have been captured by busyness and the tyranny of the urgent, where our goals have become so underwhelming, like making our churches “popular” and full of people rather than full of the Holy Spirit’s presence.
We desperately need their example. We all need to be Ruths.
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