During World War II two men met in London to transact business. One of them was full of the story of how the train in which he had traveled had been attacked from the air. He couldn’t stop talking about the danger, the excitement, the narrow escape. The other man listened in silence, but in the end he said quietly, “Well, if you don’t mind, let’s get on with our business. I’d like to get away fairly early because my house was demolished by a bomb last night.”
The one thing I have noticed about the church in Ethiopia is how it is content to suffer in silence, and alone. We who have suffered so much less should follow their example. Below are the remains of a hut that was burned down by Muslim agitators. It was destroyed because its owners were Christians. The most extraordinary thing about this picture is that we would have had no information about this terrible experience had we not made enquiries. I complain about the smallest inconvenience, but the Ethiopian church makes no parade of its sufferings.
No amount of opposition will break the Ethiopian church or make it turn back. This is the work of all-sufficient grace. It is the glory of suffering that it is in our weakness that we find this wondrous grace, for man’s extremity is always God’s opportunity.
In the early days of Christianity the man who chose to follow Christ chose to face trouble. It is so today in Africa. There might well come a time in America when persecution will descend upon the church from the official powers. Then it will be a costly thing to be a real Christian.
If and when this happens we may be sure that God will not leave us to face this trial alone. When the perilous persecution comes, the Christian can say, as Polycarp the aged pastor said when they bound him to the stake, “I thank Thee that Thou hast judged me worthy of this honor.”
October 23, 2006
David Alan Black is the editor of www.daveblackonline.com.