Imagine a scene that took place in Asia not long ago: A room in an ordinary house, dimly lit, all the blinds on the windows closed. Twenty leaders from churches in the region sit quietly in a circle on the floor, their Bibles open. They speak in hushed tones or not at all. Some still glisten with sweat; others’ clothes and shoes are noticeably dusty. They have been walking or riding bicycles since early morning when they left distant villages to get here.
Whenever a knock is heard or a suspicious sound drifts in, everyone freezes while a burly, tough-looking man gets up to check things out.
These men and women have gathered in secret, arriving intentionally at different times throughout the day so as not to draw attention. In this country it is illegal for Christians to come together like this. If caught, the people here could lose their land, their jobs, their families, even their lives…
I was in that dimly lit room that day, a visitor from America. I huddled next to an interpreter, who helped me understand their stories as they began to share.
The tough-looking man—our “head of security”—was the first to speak up. But as he spoke, his intimidating appearance quickly gave way to reveal a tender heart.
“Some of the people in my church have been pulled away by a cult,” he said. Tears welled up in his eyes. “We are hurting. I need God’s grace to lead my church through these attacks.”
The cult that had been preying on his church is known for kidnapping Christians, taking them to isolated locations, and torturing them, my interpreter explained. Many brothers and sisters in the area would never tell the good news again. At least not with words. Their tongues had been cut out.
A woman on the other side of the room spoke next. “Some of the members in my church were recently confronted by government officials,” she said. “They threatened their families, saying that if they did not stop gathering to study the Bible, they were going to lose everything they had.” She asked for prayer, then said, “I need to know how to lead my church to follow Christ even when it costs them everything.”
I looked around the room. Now everyone was in tears. They looked at one another, then several said at once, “We need to pray.”
Immediately they went to their knees, and with their faces on the floor, they began to cry out with muted intensity to God. Their praying was not marked by lofty language but by heartfelt praise and pleading.
“O God, thank you for loving us!”
“O God, we need you!”
“Jesus, we trust in you!”
“Jesus, you are worthy!”
One after another they prayed while others wept.
After about an hour the room grew silent, and the men and women rose from the floor. All around the room, on the floor where each had prayed, I saw puddles of tears.
The brothers and sisters in that Asian country have shown by their sacrifices just how much Jesus is worth to them. He is worth everything to them.
And they are not alone.
They are joined by brothers and sisters in Sudan who believe Jesus is worthy of their trust, even amid pain and persecution of genocidal proportions.
They are joined by brothers and sisters in India who believe Jesus is worthy of their devotion, even when they face threats from Muslim extremists in the north and Hindu extremists in the south.
They are joined by brothers and sisters all over the Middle East who believe Jesus is worthy of their love, even when their family members threaten to kill them for professing belief in him.
They are joined by brothers and sisters around the world who believe Jesus is worthy of all their hopes, all their dreams, all their desires, all their possessions, all their plans, and all their lives.
But are they joined by you and me?
From the Trade Paperback edition.