Matthew 10:18-20 – “You will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles. When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.”
Revelation 12:10-11 – “And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.”
A young Christian Filipino woman graced me with permission to share her story with one condition, that her real name would not be used. I will call her Grace. This young woman’s courage and loyalty to Jesus Christ in the face of great adversity inspired me.
Grace moved to Canada for the sole purpose of supporting her mother and younger brothers in the Philippines. One day, she received the devastating news that her beloved mother had an aggressive form of cancer and faced immediate surgery and chemotherapy. Although Grace longed to fly home; she could not afford to do so. Her mother’s medical treatment depended on every dollar she sent. Being the only Christian in her family, Grace fasted and prayed for their salvation.
Despite medical intervention, her mother’s condition worsened. A family member suggested they send for a local witch doctor who promised that he could cure this disease for a fee. He had one stipulation. He would not heal her mother unless every family member swore their allegiance to the powers that he invoked. As a Christian, Grace could not agree to the witch doctor’s terms, and several family members chastised and berated her for being so unloving and uncaring. They reasoned that family should come first. They asserted that it didn’t matter to whom or to what they prayed; God wouldn’t mind. After all, didn’t Grace tell them that God loved her mother? Maybe God sent the witch doctor to heal her.
Grace steadfastly refused to worship the gods the witch doctor served. The rest of the family gave more ‘gifts’ to the witch doctor until he agreed to go ahead with his treatment plan. When his treatment failed, and her mother’s cancer progressed, Grace’s family blamed her. After all, Grace was the one hold-out; it wasn’t the witch doctor’s fault that his medicines didn’t work! For over a year, family members barraged her with phone calls, demanding that she pledge allegiance to the witch doctor and his gods. Her mother, heavily influenced by the witch doctor, disowned her. Although her family cut ties with her, she continued to send money, and they continued to accept those funds.
Grace received word from a distant relative that her mother was near death. Her mother was bitter and paranoid. She was full of darkness. Family members fled for their safety as their mother was now mentally unstable and violent. As both her mental and physical health deteriorated, Grace’s mother was hospitalised.
Although Grace made it a habit for years to pray for her family, she now intensified her efforts. She spent days in concerted and focused fasting and intercession. For over a week, Grace fought for her mother’s salvation and healing. She only left her prayer closet to go to work.
A couple of days after her fast, Grace’s phone rang. It was her mother! Her voice was once again full of love and light. One afternoon, during Grace’s fast, Jesus appeared to her mother as she lay confined to her hospital bed. He told her that He was the God of her daughter. He had come to rescue her, but only if she gave Him permission to do so. Grace’s mother surrendered her life to the Lord. Within days, she was home. Although she was not yet physically healed, God restored her mind. Weekly Bible studies took the place of animal sacrifices at household altars built to gods and idols. Her children returned to her side. Her neighbours no longer scurried past her house in fear. Her home became a peaceful sanctuary for her community.
Western Christians do not yet face such overt persecution such as Grace faced. However, as our nations embrace the gods of tolerance and political correctness, we face increasing pressure to bow our knees to the gods of our age. You probably are feeling pressure to compromise. Perhaps you have been passed over for promotions in your workplace because you would not go against your convictions.
All though you love them unconditionally, family members consider you narrow-minded because you don’t support their lifestyles. You’ve lost friends because you can’t accept their adamant assertion that all spiritual paths lead to enlightenment.
Perhaps you are a pastor who faces the threat of criminal charges because you refuse to perform ceremonies that go against your faith. If you are a business owner, you live with the same threat of legal action.
Now is not the time to retreat. Now is the time to keep your eyes firmly fixed on the Lord; God’s promises have not changed. His hands of compassion have not weakened. Jesus’ sacrifice and his resurrecting power continue to transform thousands of lives every day around the world. He still leads, He still strengthens, He is still very much active. Be encouraged dear hearts, His light dawns on the horizon.
“You are leaving port under sealed orders and in a troubled period. You cannot know whither you are going or what you are to do. You cannot know whither you are going or what you are to do. But why not take the Pilot on board who knows the nature of your sealed orders from the outset, and who will shape your entire voyage accordingly? He knows the shoals and the sandbanks, the rocks and the reefs, He will steer you safely into that celestial harbour where your anchor will be cast for eternity. Let His almighty nail-pierced hands hold the wheel, and you will be safe.” Peter Marshall
We live in an upside-down world that is increasingly intolerant of Biblical morality. A strident, retaliatory push back against this bullying worldview will not get us very far. However, a firm and gracious refusal to bow down to the gods of our age gives God permission to work on our behalf. Grace continued to love her family and be a much-needed financial support for her mother even as she refused to compromise her faith. It cost her dearly. Her health was affected, her heart was broken. Grace’s support system turned against her. She had nowhere to turn but to God, and she threw both the destiny of her family and her own at the feet of Jesus. Jesus did what only He could do. He did so in a dramatic fashion, toppling false gods from the altar of a tormented woman’s heart through a supernatural encounter.
As you face intolerance, religious bigotry, and outright persecution in the workplace and at home, ask yourself this question. Are you defending yourself or are you allowing the Lord to be your defender? I speak on the subject of allowing the Lord to be our shield in this short YouTube video.
All Bible verses, unless otherwise attributed, are from the English Standard Version (ESV).
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Until Next Week
©2018 Katherine Walden
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