As Common as the Sun Rising in the East

The Sun rising in the East is to humanity as suffering and persecution is to Christianity. Do you believe this statement?

I recently attended Secret Church: The Cross and Suffering at The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Alabama. I cannot even begin to unpack all that I learned and that I am continuing to learn from my time there. Suffice it to say, David Platt could be a professional auctioneer and we covered 220-something pages and 75 key texts in 1 night. Now, we all know that I am a Nerd (yes, that’s “nerd” with a capital “N”), but whoa Nelly! my mind was so moving so fast that night that I think a little bit of it is still spinning trying to comprehend everything that I learned. Perhaps that is why I took no less than 4 trips to the main office building today at work in 20 minutes because I kept forgetting something. Yes, that sounds like a good excuse.

Now, my last post was about my love of old hymns, more specifically I reposted a montage of old hymns and their lyrics as they display the Gospel message. The reason I love old hymns and the reason I love Secret Church are one in the same. They both speak concentrated truth that penetrates my mind and soul. There is something unique about the eloquence and unabashed lyrics in old hymns just as there is something unique about uniting with 50,000 people in 70 countries to learn together, pray for the persecuted Church, and worship God by devoting ourselves to His Word.

One of the highlights of Secret Church is the opportunity for believers around the world to learn about a specific region or country where believers face persecution. This time Nik Ripken enlightened us on the Horn of Africa and his 20+ year experience working there. I highly recommend reading some of Nik’s written work like here and here.

Previously, I would pray that persecuted believers would stop being persecuted. Dumb. They are persecuted because they are proclaiming Jesus’ name. Jesus never promises that we won’t be persecuted, he actually promises that the best we can hope for is to die on the cross like Him (John 15:20). The only way to prevent persecution and suffering is to stop talking about Jesus. I know this is already a long post, but please read this story below as I cannot tell it any better:

[…]After hearing story after gripping story, he was compelled to ask this group of pastors and lay leaders, “Why have you cheated us in the West? Why haven’t you written these stories down? Where are the books that chronicle your faith and persecution? These stories are worthy of a movie. These are Bible stories come to life! Why have you not shared these lessons learned?”

As Common as the Sun Rising in the East
His outburst was greeted with confused silence. The pastors and lay leaders were dumbfounded. Most of the people simply ignored the embarrassing questions and the harshness of the challenge. Finally, one brother stood up, took the interviewer by the arm, and drew him to the end of the large room by the eastern window of the dwelling. Looking out at the horizon, the man spoke calmly to the interviewer: “Sir, when your sons were growing up, how many mornings did you take them to the window of your house and say to them, ‘Look, boys, the sun is coming up in the east this morning?’”

The interviewer found the question silly. “Well, I never once did that,” he answered. “Had I done that, my sons would have thought I had lost my mind, because the sun always comes up in the east!” Gently, the wise brother made his point: “Sir, that is why we talk little of our persecution and suffering. That is why we have not written our stories down. And that is why we have not made a movie. Our persecution is always with us. It simply comes as we walk with Jesus. It is like the sun coming up in the east.

“Besides,” he continued, “when did you Christians in the West stop reading the Bible? Our stories have already been told. God has already told all of us what we need to know about persecution and suffering.”

To say the interviewer was deeply humbled belabors the obvious. But the truth found a way into his heart and he was changed that day.

What kind of person sees persecution as biblical, expected, and hardly worth mentioning? Clearly, a person steeped in the story of scripture and well-acquainted with God. We would be wise to listen and learn the lessons. Source/Full Article

Wow. Needless to say, my view and my approach of prayer with the persecuted church has been changed. My understanding of missions work in unreached and unengaged people groups has grown, but with that comes a weight to support them in their work in ways that I do not yet understand fully – How do I pray for someone to lead another person to Christ knowing full well that it means their death?

The simple, yet oh so very complicated answer is because He is worth it all.

What is Secret Church?

Pray for the Horn

Postgrad life continued in 2012

Here is a quick view of what has been going on in my life the month of January:

  1. Mauldin Soccer Conditioning started January 1. I am coaching for my 4th year in a row (more about that later).  We have tryouts this week and I must say, it is probably harder being on this side than being a player.
  2. My church hosted a simulcast of The Elephant Room, a 1-day event where 7 influential pastors gather together to discuss controversial and difficult topics facing the (C)church. Blog coming soon.
  3. I was in charge of food for said event so I had my first experience planning and coordinating food for over 100 people. Overall, I wasn’t really too stressed, which surprised me, but I had a lot of great people helping me.
  4. I am still training for a half-marathon and marathon, but my runs have been lacking. I definitely have Season Affective Disorder (SAD), though very mild, which makes it hard to run consistently in the winter. Fortunately, I have MANY running buddies who get me out of my own funk.
  5. Work is going really well, we will hopefully announce 2 new entrepreneurs in the next few weeks!
  6. A few nights ago, some of the staff got together for a night of encouragement and prayer over dinner. It was wonderful, encouraging, and humbling. I am so excited by what God is doing at Grace and cannot believe I get to be a part of it and serve with such a wonderful and incredible group of people. Sorryfortherunonbutitisalltrue. I will probably blog more about this later, until then you can read about the last leader dinner we had.
  7. I also hosted a mini Secret Church with some friends at another friends house. While we were all tired at the end (we began at 7pm and finished at 1am), it was very interesting and worthwhile.
  8. On top of all of this, I have been reading up a storm. (Now there’s a good southern expression, if I ever heard one) I sense another book review coming too, if you’re lucky.

Now hopefully you see why I haven’t blogged. No, not because I don’t have time, but if I stop for a while, there is so much more to write about in order to catch up. I know that I don’t have to, but I am genuinely excited about what is going on in my life and I want YOU to know about it! OK, so maybe it also has to do with the fact that I am sometimes OCD and I obsess over random and unimportant details. Maybe.

What to do with a million dollars?

It all started with the question, What business would you start if you had a million dollars? K posed this question to me this summer and I almost immediately replied that I would start a human trafficking/sex slavery awareness and rehabilitation program. This issue has captured my heart and until recently, there was hardly given any attention to this reality:

  • A child is trafficked every 30 seconds. – UNICEF
  • The average age of entry into commercial sex slavery in the United States is 13 years old. – United States Department of Justice
  • Human Trafficking occurs in 161 out of 192 countries. – The United Nations
  • Pornography is a 96 billion dollar per year industry. – The Internet Filter Review
  • Human Trafficking is a 32 billion dollar per year industry. – The United Nations
  • Over 27 million people are enslaved around the world. This is more than double the number of Africans enslaved during the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. – Kevin Bales; Free the Slaves

In light of this, the D family invited me to see the documentary Nefarious: Merchant of Souls that was shown in Greenville this past Tuesday. In learning about this documentary, I was able to reconnect with my FRAD  (Freshman Resident Advisor), L, from my days at Furman because her husband was one of the people responsible for bringing the documentary here.

Side note: If you have not seen the documentary, please watch it. It is an incredible portrayal of the reality of the sex traffficking industry.

L invited me to their home for Secret Church the Friday before Nefarious. Secret Church is a gathering of believers world wide to worship, learn, and pray for the persecuted church. It usually lasts about 6-7 hours and is hosted by The Church at Brook Hills (Also known at David Platt’s Church). This time about 50,000 people world wide tuned in via simulcast to learn what the Bible says about Family, Marriage, and Sex. Full disclosure: I am a nerd. After 7 hours of intensive teaching, I left L’s house (at 2am) energized and with my mind racing. We took about 30 minutes to pray specifically and intensively for the church in Egypt. I got chills thinking that in one moment, 50,000 people were praying for a nation. Awesome. Needless to say, I will be attending or maybe hosting??? the next Secret Church on April 6 (Good Friday). I am also planning on hosting another showing of the most recent gathering, so if anyone is interested, let me know.

Isn’t it astounding that all of this came about because of 1 question this summer?