Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.
~ John 12:26 (NIV)
I’ll never forget my first visit to the house church of Pastor Samuel Lamb in Quangzhou, China with my wife Dianne. That night we were introduced to his twenty-four-year-old assistant pastor. We soon learned that she had no danwei or work-unit. This was how all people in China were identified and registered. Even some shopping required a danwei.
When asked, “Isn’t it risky for you to work full-time in a house church and not have a danwei?” she simply replied, “It’s the way of the cross!”
One of our Canadian couriers to Cuba asked a leading pastor who received many needed Spanish Bibles from us, “We’re placing you at risk, aren’t we?” He answered with his hand on his heart, “Risk? What risk? I took a risk when I accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as my Savior and became a minister. And if they want to shoot me, so much the better. I’ll go into glory sooner.”
Rinaldo Hernandez is a Methodist pastor in Cuba. His father spent five years in prison for political subversion and wanted the family to escape to Miami. But Rinaldo decided that staying in Cuba was a cross he must bear:
“I remember my father told me that I would pay a high price for that decision,” he says. His price was to come later when his seminary education was disrupted by assignment to compulsive military service in a work camp. There conditions were primitive and most of the men were hardened criminals.
He and seven other Christians met secretly at night in the sugar cane fields to pray, read the Bible and encourage one another. “I became a pastor in that work camp, not in seminary,” he concludes.
A Chinese Christian brother from the north-west province of Xinjiang was released after serving twenty years in prison. He shared this poem written by his wife just before her death in prison:
As a real disciple I have dedicated my life hoeing the fields energetically,
Begging for food shamelessly,
Wearing worn-out clothes as if they were formal dresses
Freezing to death at the windy station yet uttering not a word of complaint.
Only if the Gospel would be widely spread
Am I willing to be hung upside down on the cross…with no regret.
The late Jamie Buckingham made this memorable statement: “The risk-free life is a victory-free life. It means life-long surrender to the mediocre and that is the worst of all possible defeats.”
RESPONSE: I will not surrender to the defeat of mediocrity but follow Jesus whatever the risk.
PRAYER: Lord, help me to truly follow You – even to the cross!
1. Jamie Buckingham, “Best Quotes,” Charisma (August, 1995), p. 51.
Standing Strong Through The Storm (SSTS), a daily devotional message by SSTS author Paul Estabrooks. © 2011 Open Doors International. Used by permission.