Today begins Week 7 of MTS classes. That means it’s my final week of Christian Apologetics and marks the midpoint of NT Greek II. The latter is becoming predictably more challenging, but mostly I’m finding I don’t have enough time to learn it as well as I’d like, but so far, at least I think I’m understanding it.
My apologetics professor, D.N. (I will not reveal his name, just in case safety is an issue) is a tremendous example of faith and godliness. I cannot say enough about his boldness as a witness for Christ. He was born in Pakistan to parents who left Islam to follow Christ. They were outspoken evangelists for the cause of Christ for many years. His brother was an evangelist as well for some time after D.N. had left Pakistan to pursue his studies. I don’t know the timeline well, but at some point, his brother was murdered for his faith and witness. A true martyr for Christ.
D.N. directs a ministry on the northside of Chicago that is reaching Asians (including Muslims and Hindus). After his brother’s death, he was told to never return to Pakistan because he too would be killed. I noticed that he is preparing to leave the very day after our class ends next week (“Week 8”) for a two week trip to minister in Lebanon to Syrian refugees, and then he will also minister for a time in Pakistan, defying the threats and human risks.
In our house church services, we’ve been studying the topic of the Church and reading through Acts. However, a few weeks ago we diverted to a subtopic concerning suffering and persecution and seeking to find some answers as to why God allows us to suffer and be persecuted.
We looked at some of Jesus’ statements in Matthew 5 and 13 which let us know that we can expect persecution. We then looked at Romans 8 and discovered that we can be sure that since there is no condemnation for us who are united with Christ, and since God loves us so much and our salvation is so secure, we do not (or will not) suffer persecution because God doesn’t love us or because he is mad at us. Christ suffered for us and we are united with him. We are heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ. As Christ suffered out of necessity for our salvation, so might we suffer as we identify with Christ and as we also suffer in some way to help others come to the knowledge of the truth. That’s simply the reality of living as bearers of the gospel of light in a dark, sinful world.
D.N. is a great living reminder of following Christ and being a vocal and active witness for Christ regardless of the cost or the risk of suffering persecution. His example of boldness should encourage us to witness boldly as well.I must say here that this is the kind of seminary teacher I was hoping I would have while studying at MTS. Not just a professor full of knowledge and biblical learning, but one who puts it into practice. I want to be that kind of educated follower of Christ too…not just a Week 7 Christian seminary student, but a Week 8 Christ-follower who has counted the cost of being a disciple of Jesus and concluded that the possibility of suffering for him, indeed with him, is not a thing to be feared.