Fear can be a liar. It can deceive us when we don’t guard our hearts with vigilance (Pr. 4:23) and cast our cares on the One who cares for us (1 Pt. 5:7). Satan, the father of lies (Jn. 8:44), preys on fear. But God’s Word says perfect love casts out fear (1 Jn. 4:18). Sadly, many Christians – even missionaries – live like they don’t believe that truth.
Many self-professing followers of Jesus, including those who have moved to the other side of the world to share the gospel, act like the resurrection never happened. They’re letting fear drown out the voice of the Holy Spirit inside them. They’re not trusting in the promise Jesus made that he will be with us to the end of the age (Mt. 28:20).
Muslim background believers told author and missionary Nik Ripken, “What missionaries teach us most, is to be afraid.”
“That’s not a mistake,” Ripken said. “That’s a sin.”
Ripken added American Christians are terrified, especially since the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
“We’re afraid the economy is going bad,” Ripken said. “We’re afraid we’re going to lose our possessions. We’re afraid our kids are going to turn out wrong. We’re afraid God will call our kids to the mission field. We’re a terrified bunch of people.”
The more possessions people have the more opportunities they have to be afraid. Believers facing persecution, however, can trust God not only with their basic needs but also with their very lives. They know their hope is not in this life, but in the life eternal. They resonate with the words of Paul, “To live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Pp. 1:21).
Ripken said that is not the theology of a western Christian. We have more to learn from persecuted believers than they do from us.
For instance, believers living in persecution understand Jesus sends us out as sheep among wolves. They’re empowered by the resurrection and the promised hope for eternity with Christ. Unfortunately, the idea of sheep among wolves makes believers in the west cower from living as salt and light in a dark world.
The American Christian has made the mistake of thinking the world isn’t broken when it is.
“The question we ask all the time is how do we put you, your wife, your kids on a plane and do what Jesus said and send you as sheep among the wolves and that you will find that God has the victory?,” Ripken said. “Governments don’t do that.
“Can you imagine saying to special forces, ‘I’m going to send you out as sheep among wolves.’? It’s not going to happen. Can you imagine saying to a government, ‘We want you to let the other government win the trade war.’? It won’t happen. Wolves to wolves is the way the world works. Jesus said sheep to wolves.”
What Jesus said is radical. It might even sound scary, but our God is with us every step of the journey.
– Ben Doster, Global Gates Director of Communications, email@example.com
*In case you missed it, you can find the rest of our multi-part series covering important topics author and missionary Nik Ripken spoke on during an interview with Global Gates by reading Nik Ripken, Muslim Background Believers, and the West: “Should Christians Pray for Persecution to Stop?” (Part One of Six) and Nik Ripken, Muslim Background Believers, and the West: “The Pearl of Great Price or a Bucket of Pearls.” (Part Two of Six). Stay tuned for our next segment.