Are You Willing to Suffer for the Gospel?  

Posted by Mike Sharrow

I met with a native pastor from the ranchlands of Argentina recently, David. David and his wife are sold out seekers of God and His Kingdom. Their stories of ministry in their home country were amazing. More than 40 churches planted in a region that had never had an evangelical Gospel presentation - all planted within the past 10 years. Not a lot of funding, programs, or resources - just relentless sharing of the Gospel, discipling families to Christ and then an exponentially growing "rinse, lather, repeat" movement.

In many of the villages they plant churches, colonial-era Catholic parishes are dominant. To entertain David and his wife and then engage in Christian community usually involves loss of jobs, social persecution and other resistance. People throw stones and bricks at them as they walk down the streets sharing. Are they discouraged? No! They are excited about the power Christ is demonstrating despite the opposition.

Most moving was how God used a season of suffering to grow His Kingdom. David had gone to a Bible institute in Buenos Aires to prepare for a life of ministry God had called him to in the early 1990s. Near completion, amidst getting ready to go where he knew God had called him to he begins to lose his eyesight. A retina disorder dooms him to rapidly deteriorating vision, with inevitable blindness in a matter of months. Learn braille quickly was the only advise local medical professionals could offer.

"Tragic! Why God? You call me to minister, I go and learn and now you take my eyesight? How am I supposed to do anything now?"

It turns out the only hope is a hospital in Cuba that has expertise with the dangerous surgery he needed. God opens the doors and he's able to go to Cuba, but after the surgery he must spent 3 weeks in a hospital room with his eyes wrapped. While in that room a nurse finds his Bible and begins asking questions about it. He can't read - so he has her read the Bible out loud and then he teaches about what she reads to him. Quickly his days are full of 6+ hours with 8-10 locals gathered around his bed as he shares the Gospel and preaches the Word. Many were saved, some even went back to Argentina with him to continue being discipled and then returned to lead others in this new life in Jesus back in Cuba.

God used blindness and getting "derailed" from the course David saw to spread His Gospel message in places David could not have gone under his own will power. God used the suffering of his servant, David, to spread hope and love to people in darkness. David was obedient. He wasn't clear on the "why" just yet and was sincerely frustrated at the change in plans, but was obedient and faithful to seek "what would you have me do now, God" in the situation.

Discipleship to Jesus is obedience, and that obedience is life-long. David's story gave a fresh picture of the Biblical principle of suffering for the sake of the Gospel. Are we willing to suffer for Christ's sake if He would have us? Are we looking at situations that seem like a "pointless delay" with eyes seeking to discern God's bigger purpose?

This entry was posted at Thursday, June 12, 2008 . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

2 thoughts and responses

Saint Cheryl de Martin  

Wow, what a truly awesome story to hear. It sounds wonderful at the tail end but I know there must have been a tremendous amount of uncertainty even while in Cuba reading a Bible to the unsaved. That's the part that is amazing, reading a BIBLE to the unsaved in CUBA. Living this life, with it's twists and turns, leads me to be looking for what God is doing. Although the majority of the time I don't know, I love to see the surprises.
Thanks for the inspiration!

June 12, 2008 at 3:25 PM

James says, "Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors."

Amazing how God shows up. He sensitizes your heart and then fills it with His presence. It seems everywhere I go physically or virtually I run across the concept of suffering as a good thing intentionally used by God.

In the 1600's Brother Lawrence said, "I am in pain to see you suffer so long. What gives me some ease and sweetens the feelings I have for your griefs is that they are proof of God's love toward you."

Then, I ran across a series of blogs talking about suffering and God's work in their lives. It is obvious that God is at work. He is a jealous God and is bringing us into His presence.

June 14, 2008 at 7:30 AM

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