In 2000 I have the privilege to travel with Christina and our two sons to Burkina Faso. Burkina is one of the poorest countries in the world and is in sub-Sahara West Africa. I was invited by Joel Gray, a missionary that Hope supports (but this was before Hope had started), to teach 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus at the Bible school where he taught. Ever since then I have had my news “antennae” up regarding Burkina. So you can imagine how heavy my heart has been lately. Over the last few years Burkina has experienced several major terrorist attacks in the capital, Ouagadougou, with numbers of people being killed. And over the past five weeks three different churches have been attacked by Islamic extremists. Sadly, during at least two of these attacks, the church’s Pastors have been martyred. The gunmen literally held a gun to the Pastor’s heads and demanded they convert or die. When they refused to renounce Christ, they died. Hard to imagine in the 21st Century.
Our own country isn’t exempt from acts of violence at places of worship, which is even harder to imagine in our 21st Century. But amid my bewilderment I have determined to learn some spiritual lessons. And the first one I am committed to learning all over again is this – prayer matters. The stuff you and I would love to change about our world is not going to be transformed by some nifty slogan, educational strategy, political party, or non-profit organization. It is going to take the moment of God unleashed by the prayers of His people. In short, we need to be far more faithful in praying for God’s people and God’s activity around the world.
Second, as Jesus so clearly warned us, Christian’s need to be continuously alert to the reality that faithfulness comes with a cost…a cost we must be ready to pay. The Pentecostal Pastor in Burkina Faso who refused to abandon the church he had planted three decades before was ready to pay the price. We should be no different. We might not face martyrdom, but faithfulness will never be within our grasp if we are unwilling to pay the price of being different for Christ. If we aren’t willing to miss out on some things, be misunderstood from time to time, or lose a relationship or two along the way, faithfulness to Christ will never be possible.
Living out these lessons takes REAL FAITH, so what we will learn this Sunday will matter. See you then, hopefully with a friend in tow.