I was blessed to be raised in a country where Christians have full freedoms and worship as they please.
I was raised in a place where most all know the name of Christ.
I grew up never being persecuted for my faith, in any way that could really be counted, in comparison to so many.
By Gods grace, I was born into a family who loved God and never pressured me to worship another god or follow along with evil traditions.
I was one of the many on American soil to attend a Christian school. Humanism, idolatry and evolution were never shoved down my throat during my schooling. Every aspect of education was presented from a biblical perspective. My school never expected me to skip church to come to school. My school didn't gather all the students on a regular basis to worship a false idol or to celebrate a gods birthday.
Even as a teenage I worked at a Christian daycare where for the most part Christ was lifted up:) lol. Anyone who has worked at a daycare I think can understand that things can get a little crazy at times on the parents, child or teachers part. I was never asked to work on a church day. I never had that fight.
As you can see my life was full of numerous blessings and I couldn't be more thankful, nor would I change a second of it. However as you move to an idolatrous country, where Christians are tested and tried everyday at every moment it can be quite surprising. Christianity is new. Period. Everything about it is new. And many times when Christianity comes to a place for the first time it is hard for them to fathom how God can possibly expect them to truly follow these commands he has written. Don't get me wrong they believe in God fully, they know his Word should be followed. But if they are not properly taught and encouraged they can slip into a sector of Christianity that believes faith is "mil Dina" ( the Nepali phrase for 'doesn't match' ") in their culture. Holiness is "mil Dina". Evangelism is "mil Dina". Having good friends is "mil Dina". It just isn't possible!
Now here is where I have run into a very crucial problem. If we as missionaries, or leaders of any people, do not trust that despite our blessed backgrounds that Christs mercy, grace, commandments and truth are true everywhere at all times WE CRIPPLE new Christians. Now that is a strong statement so let me explain some more of how God has continuously taught me this over and over and over again.
As a young person raised how I stated above, when I hear about people's struggles who are so strong and drastic compared to my own I am tempted to be overhwhelmed with pity and doubt. I pity them for being in a more difficult situation than I could have ever imagined at a young age or as an adult. And ashamadely doubt creeps in that God could deliver them and comfort them in this trial. Doubt that His Word will NEVER return void and his principles WILL ALWAYS yield good fruit.
But what God has taught me many times over is (1) To trust His Word. Not only His commands to be faithful, holy and true to one God, but to the tons of stories that reveal so many who did exactely that in extremely challenging situations.
I think of Daniel who stood in a very wicked and dangerous land. He stood for God over something as small as eating something he knew was wrong. Did God take care of him? YES! He was by his side every second, enabling and empowering him.
I think about Daniel years later, refusing to not pray to the one true God when he was commanded not to at the threat of death. Did God take care of him? YES! He cared for him in a way no other could have.
I think about Shadrach, Meschah and Abendego. While surrounding by thousands who bowed to a false god they stood strong and refused to bow. Did God see their faith? YES. Did he leave them in their time of need? NO
I think of God telling Paul sooo many times to preach His word, however controversial and enraging, in very un-friendly places. And yes, he suffered for the gospel sake. Yes he endured affliction. But should he have not done it? Should he have balked at the sacrifice? Should he have ignored the lost because of the persecution he must have known would come? So many were saved not just by his words but by his grace in suffering and obedience no matter the outside pressure.
Now the question I have to ask myself is: If Daniel had come to me and said what should I do when I go to this wicked land and they try to force me to obey Gods commands? Would I overcome with pity and doubt tell him, God understands, you just pray and do the best you can. Or would I trusting Gods word lead him to trust God, pray for grace and always obey His Word? Think of the blessings I would have stolen from him had I encouraged him to doubt Gods ability to care for him and bless obedience. Think of how I would have stunted his faith if I had encouraged him to not step out and SEE what the one True God can do!
The same is true when people come to you in a pioneer mission field and ask you?
Should I skip church when school asks me to? They say they will punish me.
Should I skip church when family says I should? I want to love and respect my family.
Should I stay faitfhful to church when I get a new job and I REALLY need money and they want him to work on church days.
Should I tithe? I'm really poor!
Should I be a part of religious ceremonies? I'm terrified of what they will do to me.
Should I continue to strive to be in the ministry in a country where I won't get paid, even though I feel called?
We have heard all these questions many times over. Are there times as children or wives we must submit to our God given authorities? Yes. But not if those requests cause us to sin! And honestly, I have found the majority of our tests are in areas we DO have the choice and choose not to make it. I'll be honest I haven't always responded with the confidence in Gods word I should have and big surprise in result they didn't either! But by Gods grace I'm striving to learn to boldly promote Gods power and ability to guide their paths, diffuse hard situation and give abundant grace to trials that must come. No one can make someone else do right but it's amazing how much leading with confidence in Gods Word makes a difference. The results in their lives is amazing! We are growing in faith together and we are both 100% happier when we don't live in doubt, that is from Satan, of Gods ability.
Sometimes as Christian coming from a blessed background and country who rarely sees persecution or pain inflicted due to religion we can doubt God expects obedience when suffering is involved. There must be a clause for "tough situations". But if we are reading the same Bible, we will find it isn't there. And if we remember although we may have never faced persecution or constant spiritual in your face battles, anyone who has grown in faith has had to CHOOSE to put Gods word to the test. Even in the blessed environment I was raised in I still was forced to choose God.
Do I allow myself to be friends with those kids I know don't want to follow the Lord (even in a Christian school)?
Do I live for myself and my comfort or do I serve others and give?
Do I trust Christ for salvation or do what's cool?
Do I share the gospel to those who may mock me or stay quiet?
Do I choose to work somewhere where they expect me to skip church or do I put God before money?
Do I respond to the flirtations of boys I know care nothing for the Lord or do I wait for Gods intended?
In every environment God will push us to follow him and build our faith and SEE his hand work and provide in our lives. I'm so glad my leaders and parents didn't rob me the opportunity of trusting God for myself. I pray that although I hate to see my children suffer, that I trust Gods Word more than my emotions and allow them to see The Almighty. And even though I haven't always acted on strong faith that I will continue to grow and trust that Gods word is true in every culture and the very struggle I long to protect my "spiritual children" from is generally the very thing that will build them and shine the brightest light to their fellow countrymen. In pioneer mission fields where the foreigner will probably never share the gospel with every person, city or house he can empower his converts with faith that in the future can impact the whole country and definitely many souls for Christ. On the other hand, missionaries can come to a dark land and fill their few converts hearts full of doubt and the gospels reach will be forever diminished.