Christianity Today named as one of its top ten 2007 news stories the torture and killing of three Christians in eastern Turkey. And recently in a Dallas Seminary chapel during our World Evangelism Conference we heard a behind-the-scenes perspective on that story from one of our own—DTS’s first-ever student from Turkey.
This student, Yuce Kabakci, told of how three employees of a publishing house that distributes Bibles were slain in an attack that targeted Turkey’s Christian minority. The three victims—a German and two Turkish citizens—were found with their hands and legs bound. But that’s not all. When the attackers heard police entering the building, they exited through the window after slitting their victims’ throats.
One of those martyred Turkish citizens was the spiritual mentor of our student. Imagine knowing someone you love has endured that kind of horror for the sake of Christ. (How Jesus must have felt when He learned that His cousin, John, had been beheaded!) After recounting the trauma, our student left us with a challenge: “When you preach the gospel, do not say ‘God has a wonderful plan for your life.’ Tell people, ‘Jesus is worth dying for.’ ”
At times, it is possible in our Westernized view of the faith to get the idea—and export it—that the Christian life is only peace and joy and love. Too often we forget what it might mean to so many around the world to follow the One who was kicked out of Nazareth and unwanted in Jerusalem. As He Himself said, “The Son of Man has no place to lay his head” (Luke 9:58).
If our motives are only safety and security we’ve missed the point. Is it possible that at times we don’t want to sacrifice, to persevere—in spite of the outcome? We can fall prey to desiring that even “the ministry” bring us comfort in this life rather than enduring hardship for the next one. The abundant life of John 10:10 must be balanced with the realism of the present suffering on the way to eternal glory described in 1 Peter 5:10.
In this issue of Kindred Spirit we’ll consider the need to persevere—to pace ourselves, laboring in the power of the Spirit, so we don’t burn out. We’ll look at our need to press on in the midst of a rising number of unbelieving voices. And we’ll think about the qualities that God’s Word promises will keep us productive in light of an eternity full of peace and joy and love.
We press on not because of the short-term benefits but because the One to whom we devote our lives is Christ.