Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.
“If they kill me, they kill me,” he said with a smile. The young man is a refugee now living in the country I’m visiting, forced out of his native land because of his faith in Christ. He was telling me and some others gathered in a living room not only his story but the story of many Christians the world over who understand what it means to count the cost of discipleship. The recent story in our news about the Iranian pastor facing the death penalty because of his faith in Christ is the reminder to us that belief in Jesus is costly. The good news is that he and many like him have counted the cost and have found the grace of Christ far exceeds whatever loss they may suffer here. Please pray for these brothers and sisters Dale and I met today. Ask the Lord to bless them and the people of their land. May they see the day that the Gospel sweeps across their country(ies) like a fire and captures the hearts and souls of many.
Dale and I have been so encouraged on this trip. We have had the chance to pray with our workers, to offer words of encouragement to them, to see the work that the Lord is doing, and to be encouraged by them in Him. Work in a foreign country can be a very challenging calling. Not speaking the language or looking like everyone else or having the cultural background that everyone else has can be exhausting. Being a Christian in this society if you are a national can be incredibly costly. Ostracism and reviling and persecution are the norm for such believers. But God is faithful and He is doing some wonderful and amazing work for the glory of His name. He is calling new believers to Him in Christ, through the ministries of the faithful. Pray for them to continue to live in His grace that the Lord might do mighty and awesome works in and through them for His name’s sake.