This weekend, I made some new friends. Sam and Amy (names have been changed) are church planters from Belarus, and they are in the States for several weeks as they seek to raise money for their church plant. Amy doesn’t speak much English, so Sam did most of the talking. I don’t know if it was harder for me to decipher his Russian accent or for him to understand my Southern slang. Let’s just say our backstage chat took a lot of concentration.
Nevertheless, Sam not only shared his story on stage at Mountain Lake, he shared more personal details in the privacy of my husband’s office. He explained how difficult it is to be a pastor in Belarus. The KGB can prevent a church from obtaining a registration permit (necessary for a church to meet; without it the church cannot gather). He described the atmosphere of their culture….the freedoms they don’t have and the persecution they face. His story…..his experiences…..challenged me and my view of my own life. Oh, how I take my freedom for granted.
So many pastors across our world face struggles just like Sam and Amy. Many face much more intense persecution. Some churches are closed down by the government, some pastors are arrested, some believers are tortured and killed…..all for proclaiming faith in the One, True God. While we here in America are hesitant to share our faith because we fear being labeled Jesus-freaks, our brothers and sisters around the world take far greater risks for our Lord.
In comparison to Sam’s story, our first-world problems aren’t really problems, are they? We have freedoms and privileges that millions of people around the world will never experience. And with those privileges come great responsibilities.
What will you do with your freedom today?
*Invite someone to church this weekend
*Talk about your faith
*Praise God for the church you attend
*Commit to volunteer in your church
*Become a leader in your church
*Pray in public
*Teach your family about God
Don’t allow yourself to shrink back from your faith! Take a stand today….because you CAN!