01 Welcome the Newborn King
02 Angels We Have Heard on High
03 Away in a Manger/Lamb of God
05 For the Glory of the King Final
by AGWM COMMUNICATIONS on November 3, 2022
Eve* is from Mecca, Saudi Arabia, and came to Jesus at great personal cost. Her journey started when she began to seek out information about Him online. Her father found out and beat her. Eve was then forcibly married to an older man, and he too beat her for her faith. Eve is brave—each time she was beaten she remarked, “Your beatings just prove your faith is flawed!”
One day she went with her family to visit a sick relative in the local hospital in Mecca. The attending nurse was a Christian Filipina who took wonderful, loving care of Eve’s relative. Yet Eve’s family mocked the Christian nurse, calling her a dog and worse. In her heart, Eve said, “Whatever spirit is in this Christian nurse, I want. Whatever spirit is in my family, I want no part of.”
Persecution and beatings followed, including murder attempts. At one point Eve and her young child were locked in a car and pushed off a high cliff. Miraculously they survived, even though the car was totaled.
When Eve’s family couldn’t force her to give up Jesus, they called in Abraham*—the most loving and gentle family member who was also a devout and sincere Muslim. Abraham was tasked with returning Eve to Islam. Unknown to the family, Abraham had his own questions, and brave Eve was used to bring Abraham to salvation in Jesus. Abraham began to protect Eve and her children, risking his life to get her to safety. This did not go over well with the family and great suffering followed.
What Does it Mean to Walk Alongside the Suffering Church?
Abraham was imprisoned and sentenced to 900 lashes, 400 of which were applied. Abraham lost his job, home, personal savings, and reputation. His car was firebombed, his house was looted, and his wife and two sons were threatened. Lawsuits, beatings and accusations became his daily experience.
How can those who do not suffer for their faith understand and come alongside people like Eve and Abraham?
Fear and disunity are favored weapons of Satan, all around the world and across time. He is the enemy of our souls and of the gospel, and wants to keep us silent. Jesus-honoring, gospel-focused living refuses to be silent and refuses to divide.
In the Saudi Arabian context, fear has long ruled and is, unfortunately, what global workers have often modeled to new believers. We are incorrect if we sit in positions of secrecy and safety while challenging new believers to fearless living and faith-filled proclamation. We must walk united with the suffering church, demonstrating that we are just as willing to risk our freedoms, health, visas and longevity as they are.
Very practically, this means we must meet with suffering believers, open our homes to them, be willing to celebrate and participate in their baptisms, visit them, be seen with them, invest in them and in their families, text them, pray with them, and study the Bible with them. We must associate with them at every level—embracing whatever fallout that means.
Very proactively, this means we must model bold proclamation and wide sowing of the gospel, even if that threatens our lives or our ability to live in difficult contexts. We must practice what we preach, especially in contexts of suffering.
Why Does the Suffering Church Matter?
There is no glory before suffering. Because our goal is the glory of Jesus among and from all peoples (Revelation 7:9), suffering should be rejoiced in, not rejected. We rejoice in our sufferings because in them Jesus is lifted up as worthy, and because after them Jesus is exalted as glorious.
When the Church does not suffer, it thrives. But it thrives on itself—its own programs, growth, accomplishments, performance, numbers, power, wealth. A non-suffering church focuses on and celebrates what it can do with its resources, status, connections, privilege and health. The result is usually some form of subtle vanity, and often outright arrogance. Simply put, a non-suffering church tends to glorify self, whereas a suffering church tends to glorify Jesus.
A suffering church is often devoid of all power, wealth, status, program, and human agency. The result is a centering on Jesus, a reliance on the Holy Spirit, and a genuine humility found only through pain and loss.
Suffering matters because it strips all vanity from us, making it impossible for us to glorify man, self or church. Suffering, if we endure it faithfully, magnifies Jesus and His power—a resurrection power that only can be experienced on the other side of death. Suffering matters because it reminds us that the Church needs martyrs, not heroes. Heroes like to be lifted up, but tend to wiggle off the cross. They earn fame but steal glory. Martyrs remain on the cross, and then Jesus gets glory and resurrection power is released.
The suffering church matters because without suffering, there is no glory.
What Does Suffering Mean in the Context of Scripture?
In Philippians 1:29, we are told that suffering is a gift. It has been granted to us. Philippians 3:10-11 explains why: There is a sweet knowledge of God that cannot be gained until we join Him in His suffering for the redemption of the world.
Paul boasts: “I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection.” The non-suffering church agrees with Paul. We are attracted both to intimacy and to power.
Yet Paul goes on: “ … and the fellowship of His suffering, conformity to His death.” The obvious context, so easily overlooked by the non-suffering church, is that Christ’s suffering and death was and is interlocked with His dying for the sins OF THE WORLD. This is missions-related suffering. Jesus suffered so that the Revelation 7:9 missions vision of all peoples worshipping around the throne could be fulfilled.
When we join Jesus in His suffering for the nations, there is a sweet, sweet knowledge of God that cannot be experienced in comfort. The testimony of Scripture is that suffering is both necessary for the fulfillment of the Great Commission and a great gift. The scandal is that so many of us are reluctant to receive and embrace suffering for the nations.
The Invitation of Suffering
Suffering within the context of missions is a gift because it makes Jesus real to us in ways we can never know while living safe, secure lives. Suffering in the global church is intended, in part, to give us a holy jealousy. Those who suffer for Jesus—like my friends Abraham and Eve—glow with His glory and have a joy unspeakable. Their glow invites us to a closer walk with Jesus. It is an invitation paid for at great price and with great love. Let us not be slow or stupid in refusing the gift.
*Names have been changed for security. Sunday, November 6, is International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. This article originally appeared in Worldview magazine. Used with permission.
And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus…
COLOSSIANS 3:17 NLT
You can’t just go where you want to go, do what you want to do, or say what you want to say. There are limits. There are limits that are, obviously enough, limiting. There are limits beyond which you cannot go or should not go. If you do, then bad things will happen. You can’t violate a limit with immunity. You will have to pay a price for going beyond it. The price may be small or great depending on the nature of the limit and the degree of the violation.
That’s just the way it is.
But why is it that way? Why are there limits? There are limits because this is God’s world, not your world. God is the one who has established the limits. God is the one who has set the boundaries. There are limits because God made the world the way that He made it.
However, there is trouble in the world. There is trouble because people violate the limits. They want to go where they want to go; do what they want to do; and say what they want to say. Although they know God and know there are limits (Romans 1), they violate them anyway—even though there is a price to pay. When people do this, God calls it “sin.” The trouble in the world is that people are sinners, people are violators of God’s limits.
Can anything be done about this? As a matter of fact, something has already been done about it. God has already provided a way for violators of His limits to get back on track. All they have to do is accept Jesus Christ, the very Son of God, as their Lord and Savior. They must acknowledge that Jesus came to the world from heaven, lived a life in compliance with God’s limits—a sinless life—yet paid the penalty for our lack of compliance by dying on the cross for us. When you accept Jesus, you become a Christian. You become a follower of Jesus Christ.
That’s why as a Christian, in whatever you do or say, you should do it as a representative of Jesus Christ.
Written from our National Superintendent DOUG CLAY on October 27, 2022
The battle for the heart, mind, soul, and future of our children is real. Many of us could have never imagined how quickly and aggressively the transgender revolution would target our children. My heart is broken.
I was absolutely stunned and deeply alarmed to watch an interview given by a TikTok artist — a biological male, who is identifying himself as a “girl.” The interview was with the president of the United States.
The event was known as the NowThis Presidential Forum. The forum was upsetting on many levels, but what disturbed me most was the congratulatory manner in which the president affirmed the interviewer’s gender transition along with his suggestion that the reason why people are not supportive of transgender ideology is because more exposure to the ideology is needed.
It’s important to be reminded that God loves all people and we are all created in His image. In fact, the Bible tells us in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.” This should help frame any compassionate response to individuals struggling with gender dysphoria.
However, to advocate and celebrate a twisted plan of human sexuality that deviates from His divine design is not healthy. Researcher Jason Thacker of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission says, “Our culture is at an interesting crossroads today, representing an especially crucial moment for our kids and families. On one hand, our society champions complete moral autonomy under the guise of throwing off all moral boundaries and pursuing our own versions of realities at all costs. On the other hand, we all recognize that truth cannot actually be relative and that our moral choices have profound consequences for us and our society. We may seek to deny objective moral truths in the name of liberation and revolution, but these false notions of reality will not and cannot last.”
To say that the American public needs more exposure to trans ideology in our daily lives is disturbing. God help us! We are witnessing numerous school districts that have policies to not inform parents when children begin identifying as another gender, change their name to another gender, or switch their pronouns. Additionally, in some cases, doctors have been given the choice between performing gender transition surgeries on minors or losing their careers. This is horrifying!
That’s why I am urgently calling Assemblies of God ministers, churches, and congregants to pray for our children.
PRAY FOR THE HEARTS OF OUR CHILDREN
“I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called — his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance. I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him” (Ephesians 1:18-20).
We’re living in an age where social media has created feelings of inadequacy, loneliness, and hopelessness. Let’s pray that the hearts of our children will be guarded from the shifting winds of emotion and culture. As we build lasting foundations in their hearts through the Word, pray that God will protect their hearts in the hostile culture in which we live.
PRAY FOR THE MINDS OF OUR CHILDREN
“Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures (Luke 24:45).”
From entertainment to school curricula, there is a battle for the minds of our children. We have a responsibility to protect our children from harmful influences, but that can be difficult when we live in a time of inundation. Let’s pray for our children, grandchildren, or those within our influence, that God will protect their minds with His truth and that their worldview will be shaped by His Word.
PRAY FOR THE SOULS OF OUR CHILDREN
“And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37, ESV).
Our kids are hearing many voices, with each claiming to have authoritative solutions to their struggles. We know that salvation and hope are found only in Christ. Let’s pray for our children to put their faith in Jesus and keep looking to Him for answers to life’s difficult questions.
PRAY FOR THE FUTURE OF OUR CHILDREN
“So, we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better” (Colossians 1:9-10).
Let’s pray that the seeds planted in the hearts of our children will grow into fruit that will last. Pray that God will bring the right influences into their lives as we take the necessary steps to raise them according to His plan and His Word.
Our children are growing up in a culture that is inundating them with messages about sexuality that are untrue and damaging. Let’s continue to point our children to the Bible’s teaching about human sexuality. Let’s model for them how to love people, even those with whom we disagree. Let’s stay true to the message of the gospel and stand against every form of sexual inappropriateness, upholding biblical standards without compromise.
Let’s demonstrate to our kids the power of the gospel, and how it can transform people into His image. Let’s stand on God’s promise that says, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6, ESV).