Shortly after graduating from Bible school, Mali* would be captured and forced to spend three weeks in prison. The tiny wooden cell she’d be confined to was impenetrable by light. There, shackled by hand and foot, she would sit immobilized as mosquitoes pierced her skin day after day. Her only interaction with the outside world would be the brief exchange that would happen as she would be given her daily ration of rice with a pinch of salt.
What was her crime? Preaching the Gospel to her fellow villagers to the tune of 20 new Christian converts.
Ultimately, with permanent damage caused by the beatings she received, Mail would be released from this very same jail some three weeks later, for fear that the jailers were turning to Jesus as well. Amidst death threats from angry villagers and the local witch doctor who had “lost his power to control the people” since they started turning to Christ, she’d make the long trip back home convinced that Jesus would be her shield.
"Mali wasn’t intimidated by the darkness. She was compelled to step into it."
From a modern American vantage point, it’s hard to believe that these kinds of stories are commonplace in many parts of the world. But right now, even as you read this, brave men and women are facing these realities. The invitation to follow Jesus around the world is quite literally an invitation to face death. It is a total abandonment of any sense of security or comfort. Contrary to what we tend to believe, following Jesus isn’t a safe endeavor at all.
Let that settle in…
When faced with their own threats of death, the first-century believers gathered together to pray. But they didn’t pray the way that we would be tempted to pray. They didn’t pray for protection. They didn’t pray for their persecutors to stop pursuing them. They didn’t ask for any kind of an “out.” They asked for boldness: boldness to keep preaching, to keep talking about what they had experienced, and to keep moving towards the darkness one step at a time.
Your story may never be the same as Mali’s or the first-century Christians. The threat of death isn’t a constant in the United States. But there are parallels. Darkness abounds both here and around the world. And maybe instead of praying it away, God would ask you to boldly step into it today, to be a conduit of the Kingdom and to make Him known through your courage.