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Thinking Inside the Box

Case Study #1: Creative Access

“I am regularly harassed by the police during gospel outreaches,” Brother Y. reports. It’s just part of the job.

Brother Y. serves in a Creative Access nation that is extremely hostile to the gospel. Ministering in such a nation can feel like working within a box of ridged regulations while the civil or religious authorities continually draw the lines of the box smaller and smaller, trying to trap you in a crime.

Brother Y.’s situation is like the prophet Daniel’s (Daniel 6:1-28). King Darius’ advisors made the central practices of Daniel’s faith illegal, creating grounds to imprison and execute Daniel.

The enemies of God’s people have not changed their methods much in the last few thousand years.

Recently, the authorities confiscated Brother Y.’s cell phone. When the police found nothing incriminating on the phone, they took Brother Y. into custody and interrogated him for 48 hours straight.

“Despite their threats, they did not get a thing from me,” Brother Y. relates. “They did forbid us from holding any services. In fact, they said not to preach the gospel at all.”

The policeman told him, “It is good that you believe in Jesus. If we have faith, our country will have hope.”

The authorities told Brother Y. he would have to register with a government office.

Many people would see these restrictions as insurmountable obstacles or would be intimidated into inaction. Some might be incited to rage toward their persecutors.

Brother Y., however, sees the confining box of persecution as an opportunity from God.

“Although men wanted to harm me, God’s intent is good!” Brother Y. says. “In the interrogation room, they made me read the gospel message aloud and took video of me doing it. But I was not afraid. I preached the gospel to those who persecuted me! I shared about Jesus and how he was nailed to the cross for sinners. And I told them about forgiveness.”

Courage like this is only possible in lives that are already forfeit to the One who gave his life for us. Love of our enemies, love that would trade our freedom or our lives to share everlasting life with them is, perhaps, the most radical declaration of the gospel we can preach.

“I did not grumble during my interrogation,” Brother Y. continues. “Rather, I submitted to the Holy Spirit’s guidance and grabbed hold of God’s blessings. My heart did not have any hatred… Just as Jesus pardoned us, we must also forgive others. When we forgive people, the love of Jesus is demonstrated in us.

We don’t know what the authorities intend to do with the recording of the gospel message. Brother Y., however, is confident that God intends to use it to seed the gospel in the hearts of his persecutors.

“We know God works all things together for the good of those who love him,” Brother Y. quotes. “In this case, the policemen recording my message had the opportunity to hear the gospel.”

Upon his release, as Brother Y. was leaving, one of the policemen told him, “It is good that you believe in Jesus. If we have faith, our country will have hope.”

That policeman is right. One man of fearless faith can transform an entire nation, even from inside a lion’s den. The power of God and his gospel are not trapped by persecution; they are concentrated.

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