Be Courageous!

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Many readers will be familiar with the inspiring story of John and Betty Stam who were American Christian missionaries to China with the China Inland Mission, during the Chinese Civil War. 

The couple were murdered by Communist Chinese soldiers in 1934.  Before they were martyred, John and Betty spent their last night in captivity with their little baby daughter.  During those hours John wrote a letter to the China Inland Mission leaders explaining their situation.

My wife, baby and myself are today in the hands of communist bandits.  Whether we will be released or not no one knows. May God be magnified in our bodies, whether by life or by death. Philippians 1:20

Stories like this could be multiplied, telling of faithful servants of God who stood courageously under severe persecution and trial. Their confidence and trust in God should truly inspire us in days of adversity and uncertainty. In Eastern Europe, under the communist regime, many believers experienced long periods of solitary confinement, physical torture, and constant suffering from hunger and cold.  Added to this almost unbearable suffering was the anguish of brainwashing and mental cruelty.

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There are many amazing accounts of courageous endurance and resolute faith and while we may not experience such suffering, it is possible that we will face dangers, disappointments or even despair during this year that we have entered.  We all need courage to face the future so that we are not debilitated by fear or paralyzed by anxiety.   Courage is about how we face life’s everyday challenges. Today courage is imperative so that we do not compromise our convictions in the face of difficult circumstances.  The Apostle Paul exhorts us by reminding us that God has not given us a fearful spirit, but rather power to face our fears. (2 Timothy 1:7)

Do we believe that we can be courageous Christians like Paul, or do we feel more like Joshua when he was replacing Moses as leader of the children of Israel?  Three times the Lord said to Joshua, “Be strong and of a good courage”.  Joshua was on the threshold of a new era of responsibility and it would seem that the Lord was aware of a fear within Joshua.  Could it be that Joshua felt weak and incapable of this task, contemplating giving up? Could this be the reason why God gave Joshua courage so that he could fulfil his purpose and calling? 

We need to step out with courage and confidence, taking our example from the lives and actions of our brothers and sisters in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.  They have courageous hearts and strong faith in the Lord.  These are critical days for them; directions set now will greatly affect the future presentation of the Gospel for years to come.  Courageous servants are needed.  We trust that the mission school graduates in Moldova will be strong and courageous as they serve the Lord.  May the Bread of Life team have courage as they minister in a society that considers them a ‘cult’.