Persecution and Martyrdom Lead to Increased Boldness

In a region of Africa where Islam thrives, movements to Christ are rapidly accelerating.  Despite severe persecution and martyrdom, new disciples boldly share their faith and experience miracles. Thousands are coming to know Jesus as Savior, experiencing His transformation, love, and forgiveness.

Though the rapid growth is exciting, it certainly isn’t easy.  Movement leaders face daily threats and constant danger. Those who oppose the work of God often target them.  There is much to learn from how one movement in that area approaches the issue of persecution.  It is similar to what we see in the Book of Acts.  Instead of persecution causing them to hide and grow fearful, disciples in this movement are growing bolder about sharing the good news of Jesus with their people.

How It All Began

A DMM trainer went to a new region in their nation and ran a small training.  Along with discipleship and movement training, they shared the Gospel and our need for Jesus as Savior.  Unbeknownst to the trainer, there were Muslims present.  Hearing the teaching about salvation, conviction was strong in several of them.  One of their relatives was already a Jesus-follower. They had also been present in the training. One man, in particular, began to ask questions of his relative. For the protection of those involved, we will call him M.

M. was from a terror group.  His father was a mosque leader.  As M. asked questions, his relative shared many scriptures with him.  He saw that what they said was true. His relative also spoke about how much their people needed Jesus’ salvation and how they must share this good news with others.  Finally, M. believed and committed to becoming a disciple of Jesus.  Baptism followed.  M. had several wives and many children.  In a short time, he led his wives and children to Christ.

Later, one of his wives shared the gospel with M.s mother who also put her faith in Jesus.  His father, however, became extremely angry.  He wanted to kill M.  M. told his father he was going away for work.  He left for about six months and prayed diligently for his father’s salvation. 

Serious About Prayer

The movement leader there says, “If you want to see a movement, you must be very serious about prayer!” M. was! He prayed constantly for his father to know the living Christ.

During his six-month absence, M.’s father tried many types of witchcraft to bring him back. He wanted to kill him.  Nothing worked.  Finally, M felt God was sending him home to his father again.  When he arrived his father said, “I tried everything to make you return, but it didn’t work.  The God you are serving is very powerful. I want to know Him too.”

After M’s father believed, he and the family became a target.  Radical jihadists attacked. M. and others who were with him were set on fire and left for dead.  Most died, but M. miraculously survived this severe persecution, though he was badly burned.  Hearing about this, the movement leadership removed M.’s wives and children from the area to protect them. They were sent to other villages to be safe but still live among their people so they could continue to evangelize.

M.’s relative and disciple-maker wanted to go to him.  He told them not to come as they were also a target and people were searching for them to kill them.  Instead, three people were sent to him to care for him and help him with those he was leading to faith.  Though confined to his bed due to the terrible burns, from his bedside he continued to share about Jesus and led over 300 people to salvation.

It’s Better to Die for Christ

After several months, M. developed terrible bed sores and was in excruciating pain. He called his disciple-maker to ask for help.  They sent him to a hospital, but by the next day, M. went to be with his Savior in Heaven.  He left behind him almost 400 disciples.  What was the result of his death?  These new disciples became even bolder.  M. had told them “It’s better I should suffer and die for Christ who I know to be true, than to suffer and die for what I didn’t know.” 

His relative and disciple-maker was heartbroken!  This was the fifth key fruitful leader brought to Christ and trained who had been martyred.  Crying and grieving, she mourned for a few days.  Then, the movement leader told her. “Stop crying.  Focus on those who haven’t yet heard the gospel.  Those we have lost like M. are in Heaven.  Think about the millions who will go to an eternal hell if they don’t hear about Jesus.” 

Persecution is Part of Christianity

It can seem harsh to say something like this to someone who has recently lost such a dear friend.  And yet, as this disciple-maker refocused her attention on Jesus and the lost, she experienced great joy.  It was visible to those around her.  Hope was restored.  She will see M. again.  “Persecution is part of Christianity.  We may cry, but then we fix our eyes back on those who don’t yet know the Savior,” says the leader of the work in that area.  “We comfort those who are mourning, but then we bring the focus back to those who are still alive but need to know the good news.”

For others in that nation, persecution makes them fearful.  But for those in the midst of it, it makes them bolder and more on fire for Christ.  As Paul exhorted the church in Philippi, “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).

Disciple Makers Increase (DMI) commits to taking the good news of Jesus to the least, last, and lost, no matter the personal cost involved. We believe the cause of making disciples among them is worth dying for. It’s worth giving up comfort, freedom, and selfish desires. Learning to step outside what we feel at ease about and to start Gospel Conversations with those around us is well worth it. Then, we must learn to help those new disciples grow in Christ’s love until they too can lead others to Jesus.

Launching a movement and seeing God’s kingdom rapidly grow among the unreached is a pearl of great price (Matthew 13:45-46).  Are you ready to give everything to gain it?

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