By Daniel L. Akin and Bruce Riley Ashford
We Americans could learn a lot from our brothers and sisters around the world. I am reminded of a story Nik Ripken tells in his book The Insanity of God. Ripken, a global missionary who is known for his research on Islam and on former Muslims who have embraced Jesus as Lord, asked one woman in China how believers were able to serve Christ in an environment with so little freedom. He recorded her response:
The security police regularly harass a believer who owns the property where a house-church meets. The police say, “You have got to stop these meetings! If you do not stop these meetings, we will confiscate your house, and we will throw you out into the street.”
Then the property owner will probably respond, “Do you want my house? Do you want my farm? Well, if you do, then you need to talk to Jesus because I gave this property to him.”
The security police will not know what to make of that answer. So they will say, “We don’t have any way to get to Jesus, but we can certainly get to you! When we take your property, you and your family will have nowhere to live!”
And the house-church believers will declare, “Then we will be free to trust God for shelter as well as for our daily bread.”
“If you keep this up, we will beat you!” the persecutors will tell them.
“Then we will be free to trust Jesus for healing,” the believers will respond.
“And then we will put you in prison!” the police will threaten.
By now, the believers’ response is almost predictable: “Then we will be free to preach the good news of Jesus to the captives, to set them free. We will be free to plant churches in prison.”
“If you try to do that, we will kill you!” the frustrated authorities will vow.
And, with utter consistency, the house-church believers will reply, “Then we will be free to go to heaven and be with Jesus forever.”1
Nik Ripken, The Insanity of God: A True Story of Faith Resurrected (Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2013), 262–63.
Excerpted from I Am Going by Daniel L. Akin and Bruce Riley Ashford. Copyright 2016 B&H Publishing Group, www.BHPublishingGroup.com.
Daniel L. Akin is the president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina. He holds a Ph.D. in Humanities from the University of Texas at Arlington and is the author or editor of numerous books and Bible commentaries.
Bruce Riley Ashford is Provost/Dean of the Faculty of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he also serves as Professor of Theology and Culture. He is a Fellow in Theology at the St. George’s Center for Biblical and Public Theology (Ontario, Canada) and a Research Fellow at the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. He is the co-author of One Nation Under God: A Christian Hope for American Politics, author of Every Square Inch: An Introduction to Cultural Engagement for Christians, and the editor of Theology and Practice of Mission.