Yesterday I met a good friend of mine again after not seeing each other for several years. It was a great re-union. He is a servant of the Lord who is starting new churches in Indonesia and going to other countries to share the gospel similar to what I do. He is from the country of Indonesia, the largest muslim nation in the world. I think it is better I not tell his name nor where he works specifically.
Anyway, he operates in the boldness of the Lord and constantly lives by faith and the constant guidance of the Holy Spirit. He told me a story which was very surprising, shocking and interesting all piled into one. He and his team was working to reach a village in Indonesia which was 100% muslim and never before had a Christian witness. They were there because they had been victims of a natural disaster and only Christians showed up to help them. For a few months they helped the people in the village with the Love of Christ and several families wanted to believe in Jesus. They faithfully worshipped the Lord and the new believers shared their faith. For most, they were neither aggressive nor angry, but in Indonesia they have seasons of burning out Christians. In fact in the last decade more than 10,000 churches have been burned down in Indonesia. While it has a large muslim population of more than 150 million people, it also has some of the biggest and vibrant Christian churches in the world. Some of the churches are as big as several hundreds of thousands of people in a single congregation!
One day they heard rumors spreading around the village that soon they would be burned out and chased out of the village by a militant group in the village. They got together to pray, fast and to seek God in what they should do. This was praying for their very lives. The pastor was frustrated. After so much work, effort and love shown to the people, why would they try to burn him out. As he prayed, he became more and more bold. He felt he heard from the Lord so he asked the people to consider his idea. He told them, that they needed to stand strong for their village believers. I want you all to go and pray with your families and consider going with me to confront the militants and government leaders directly, but you need to pray and ask your families because he told them, “it could go quite bad for us.”
The next day, all the men who were the new believers in the congregation came and said, “we will stand with you and our congregation.” So they all went together to speak to the head of the village. When they spoke to village leaders he found himself saying, “If you burn us out, we will burn you out of your office too. And, once we burn your government office, we will burn your house down too.” After that comment, there was no going back!
The leaders of the village quickly apologized to the new believers, in fear of getting their own office and homes burned down. They also gave written permission for the Christians to work in their village. They still have a vibrant congregation in that village today.
I don’t think that we should use violence for anything, however, I know that God lead them and God new the future. He knew they would not have to act on the threat and he knew they would be greatly strengthened in their faith. I am reminded of the words of Jesus when he said, “11 When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, 12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.” (Luke 12:11-12)
I wouldn’t recommend every trying that as a strategy, but it is a great testimony of how the Holy Spirit gave them to the boldness to stand up to those who wanted to persecute them and their boldness caused the militants to change their behavior.