September 27, 2007
Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. John 15:20a
When I was last in Asia, I had the extraordinary opportunity of preaching to the members of the Lutheran Church in Hong Kong. During that same visit, I attended a conference of teachers, missionaries, and volunteers from throughout Asia. They are an extraordinary group of individuals: multi-talented, visionary, and absolutely committed to sharing the Savior’s story of salvation with the souls of the Far East.
As they visited, many of them talked about a dream they had for China. With the 2008 Summer Olympics taking place in Beijing, it was their hope and prayer that the eyes of the world would force the Communist government to become more open to a powerful Christian witness. My missionary friends knew the Holy Spirit could bring in a great harvest, if it were ever possible to share the Gospel freely.
According to a story that was carried last week by the BBC, that dream may be in jeopardy. Referring to the 800-page report on religious freedom put together by the U.S. State Department, it appears the leaders of China are not ready to let their people hear the Gospel message. Rather than opening up to the work of foreign missionaries, China has decided to go the other way and are expelling some non-native witnesses.
A few moments ago, I said Christ’s missionaries have an amazing faith. They do. Although I have not received any e-mail from Asia, I have a fair idea of what they might say under these circumstances. First, they would refer to the words of the Savior that serve as the text of today’s devotion: “If they persecute Me, they will also persecute you.”
Next they would gently remind, “No person has ever entered the missionary field thinking the job would be easy. Even as sin, Satan, and the world once tried to stop the Savior when He was on earth, so the forces of evil will continue to try and silence the Savior’s representatives today.”
Our missionaries might also add this: “Two thousand years ago, on Calvary’s cross and at Joseph’s empty tomb, the Savior won the ultimate victory over humankind’s enemies. Although Jesus had been persecuted, condemned, and murdered, the Father used the actions of unbelievers to accomplish His plan of salvation. Over the centuries the Lord has shown that He remains in control. This is why we ask that our brothers and sisters in the faith join together in prayer and ask the Holy Spirit to open the doors of closed countries and hardened hearts to the Savior’s message of salvation. It is a request we are glad to honor.
THE PRAYER: Dear heavenly Father, You can accomplish far more than we can imagine. We, who have been redeemed by the Savior, ask that others may also be brought to know of His love. Protect those who are under persecution, and let Your Word be preached, so lost souls might be saved. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries