I will try to be sensitive in the way I give the details of this story. A few name and detail changes to protect the innocent. It comes from an e-mail that I received in this past year after speaking outside the state.
I had finished my second talk to this group, stressing the sovereignty of God in suffering and even martyrdom. One of the women at the conference (call her Mary) discovered that evening that a friend she had not seen for 10 years (call her Rachel) was staying in adjacent conference housing. They reconnected. Rachel told Mary that 10 years ago, when they went their separate ways, she moved to France (not the real European country), met and married an ex-Muslim, now turned Christian (call him Ahmed). They had come back from France 3 years ago.
This year, the week before the conference where I was speaking, Ahmed went back to his homeland in Northern Africa for a family matter and also with some Bibles he wanted to smuggle in to believers. To make a complicated story short, suffice it to say that he was discovered, arrested, jailed and tortured. Mary e-mailed me and said, "His trial is today, and if guilty, he will be executed." I have returned the e-mail, wanting to know what happened, but have not heard yet. But that's not the point.
The point is what she said about Rachel in this crisis. She said that Rachel was a living example of faith in God's sovereign care as she waited to hear the outcome of her husband's trial three thousand miles away. Her words were: "She is screaming God's sovereignty just with her demeanor. I am so very humbled to watch her walk through it, contemplating that I would, most likely, be UNlike her. However, by God's grace, He is changing me so that I can glorify Him through the trials He has for me and my family to go through."
What's the point? The point is that I am praying for God to raise up Rachels and Ahmeds during Missions Fest this year. O God, give us men and women who count everything as loss for the surpassing value of spreading a passion for your supremacy for the joy of unreached peoples - Somalis here and Maninka in Guinea. Lord, raise up radical disciples who know the "dark side of missions" and count it all joy.
What do you mean "dark side"? Well, take the phrase "all the nations" (panta ta ethne). We usually think of this phrase in connection with the great commission in Matthew 28:19, "Go and make disciples of all the nations." But there is another use of the phrase in Matthew 24:9, "You will be hated by all the nations because of My name." That's the dark side of missions.
My prayer is that God will raise up real Christians this year, hundreds of you - Christians who not only are willing to love the nations, but also to be hated by the nations. That's how Jesus accomplished his mission. That is the only way ours will be accomplished. "If the world hates you," Jesus said, "you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you" (John 15:18-19).
Would you pray with me that hundreds among us would embrace being hated for the sake of love? If your driving motive in life is to be liked and loved, you will find it almost impossible to be a Christian. Missionaries are people who have decided that being loved by God is enough to enable love. We don't need to be loved by others. It feels good. But it is not essential. Loving, not being loved, is essential.
O Lord, put your Spirit of love in the hearts of hundreds for the sake of the nations.
pastor JOHN PIPER