In the 1970's when this author was studying in Southern Asia Bible College, Bangalore, along with another fellow student we went to a village near Hebbal. As we were distributing Christian literature and sharing the gospel with the people, a group of radical Hindus surrounded us. They grabbed our bags, and destroyed the literature and dragged me inside a private place in their village. I looked around to see my friend, but he had escaped. They were speaking in Kannada language, and I was so terrified. They were planning to hurt me. As I was speaking in English, they were getting angrier. They hated English and hated Christianity. They did not understand me and I did not understand them. As this confusion was going on, one gentleman appeared from nowhere. A tall handsome middle-aged man, and he spoke in Kannada fluently. He spoke to them with authority and commanded them to let me go. I rejoiced in the miraculous deliverance, and somehow I found my way back to Hebbal A.G Church. When I reached there, to my great surprise, I found my friend snoring, as if he did not even care what happened to me. He ran away from the battle field, and with great regret let me write that he went into a secular profession and died few years later.
The call to the ministry is a tough one. Our Master called us to follow Him and be His witnesses (Grk. word martures, from which the word martyr came), carrying our cross and be willing to die for Him. Jesus declared if we don't carry our cross and follow Him, we are not worthy to be His disciples (Matthew 10:38). Apostle Paul declared: "But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God" (Acts 20:24). After the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples, none of the disciples deserted Jesus. All of them died as martyrs, except apostle John. It is believed that, John was put into the burning oil, but he did not die, then he was banished to the Island of Patmos, where he had the revelation of the resurrected Christ, and the things that will happen in the future.
Christians will face persecution when they take a stand for Jesus Christ. Satan works through people and they come against Christians. In India, some calculate that at least 3 Christians are killed or persecuted every day. John L. Allen Jr. in his book "The Global War on Christians" (NY: 2013, Intro.) wrote: "Christians today indisputably are the most persecuted body on the planet." He gives the stories of Christians being oppressed, imprisoned, vilified and slain around the world each day. Recently In Iraq, Christians are persecuted and exterminated by ISIS. When the enemy comes against a believer, he/she should not be afraid. Stand your ground (Ephesians 6). Be faithful to the one who loved you and saved you. We have no right to turn back and run. Apostle Peter although he denied Jesus three times, he deeply repented and he was restored and was commissioned. He boldly stood before the rulers of that time and said: "Whom shall we obey God or you".
Those who have the freedom to worship and propagate the gospel must be thankful for the freedom. We have a great responsibility to pray for Christians undergoing persecution. When one part of the body suffers, the whole Body suffers. Everyone who falls on the ground for the Lord is a seed that falls to produce great fruits. Graham Stains and their two boys Timothy and Philip were burned alive in their Jeep in Orissa, India, when they were sleeping. But Glades and her daughter Esther did not run away from India. They continue their ministry among the poor lepers in Orissa. In the funeral of her beloved husband and the two boys Gladys sang the song “Because He Lives”. "She announced her forgiveness of those who had murdered her family. Because of these events, Christ has been proclaimed from the front pages of the newspapers of India. In the face of persecution, many are coming to Jesus from families that have rejected the gospel for years". (http://ibsresources.org/articles/staines.shtml. Accessed on September 9, 2014). No doubt, their death invigorated the Christians and Christian mission in India, and many more souls were added to the Kingdom of Jesus Christ. They could only kill their bodies, but not their spirits. Jesus told his followers, "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever would save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's shall save it" (Mark 8:34, 35). Dietrich Bonhoeffer in his book The Cost of Discipleship wrote that "suffering is the badge of true discipleship" (Bonhoeoffer, 1959, Page 91). He also wrote that "cheap grace is the grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate" (Bonhoeffer, 45). Martin Luther also reckoned suffering among the marks of the true Church, and he defines the church as the community of those "who are persecuted and martyred for the gospel's sake" (Bonhoeffer, 45). This is so contrary to the "health and wealth, prosperity gospel" which is another gospel. Whether we live or die we belong to the Lord. It is His Kingdom, and its mission that is our priority. Through our life and even our death will cause the furtherance of the gospel and the cause of Christ.(email@example.com)