“I knelt, and placed my hands on the door to pray. For two-and-a-half hours I prayed for Jesus to deliver us. We then prepared to die.”
Of what worth is our faith in those moments when you and I seem to have been forsaken by the very One “we have left everything” to follow? That’s the restless question haunting the deep places of my heart lately, particularly since receiving the faith-wrenching testimony of “Nora”, a Heaven’s Family-supported undercover missionary, in my inbox recently. Other questions follow closely… How strong is my faith? Could I affirm that Jesus is my Lord while staring down the barrel of a gun?—or endure chains, imprisonment…even torture?
Millions around the world lay claim to a belief in Jesus. But is our faith a selfless devotion to divinity, or simply a hollow cultural Christianity designed to soothe one’s conscience and please family and community? One true test reveals all—persecution.
That test came to Nora. Not surprisingly, since she was working to lead Muslims to a relationship with Christ in the Middle East—a “crime” punishable by immediate death, without due process. Nora was targeting cities near the Afghanistan border with the gospel, and working to establish house churches. Muslim extremists, ready to kill upon mere accusation, walk the streets of her world. Their unrelenting devotion to their twisted creed, which so easily goads some to unspeakable acts of terror, have caused some Christians to fail that test when it comes, forsaking their faith in Jesus in exchange for the bitter life of a betrayer.
Nora became almost numb to the continual threats on her life, and she refused to stop telling others about Jesus. But one day she walked right into a lion’s den. “We were in a city we did not know, sharing the gospel from door to door,” she explained, “and unwittingly knocked on the local Taliban leader’s door.”
Urgent, angry arms quickly overpowered Nora and the two others with her, dragging them inside what they soon realized was a Taliban safe house. “Wait here until I come back and decide what to do with you,” the leader ominously ordered them as the door to their new confines slammed shut, followed by the metallic clanking of a padlock. They were prisoners…and helpless.
It was in that small room that the three missionaries faced a true test of their faith. Nora knew that forsaking Jesus was not an option. She also knew she served a God capable of opening any prison door. Shoring up her faith, Nora began praying for the miracle she trusted would come—but she didn’t know when, nor if that “miracle” might mean meeting her Lord face to face that day.
Hours later, the men returned. Without a word, the hostages were hustled out of the building and into the back of a waiting car. It was a critical moment for the young evangelists. Are they taking us to a remote location to be tortured or killed? Will God rescue us or are we bound to a martyr’s fate?
Their time for reflection quickly ended when the car came to a halt. The driver exited, opened the back doors, and yanked the trio out—right at the doorstep of a Catholic church. Taking a moment to pause before climbing back behind the wheel, the driver, trying unsuccessfully to hide his bewilderment, hissed one last threat. “I don’t know why he’s letting you go, but you must leave this city and never come back!”
Nora and her friends had been prepared to die. They passed the test that day. They also rejoiced in the reassurance that their faith was real, and, like the Apostles in the book of Acts, that they were counted worthy to suffer for the name of Jesus. It would have been easy for Nora—or any of us—to feel forsaken by God during such a test, but pure gold poured forth from the fires she endured that day. “Sometimes I fear for those standing in opposition to her rather than for her,” a friend of Nora told me!
I pray you and I may never have to experience that kind of testing of our faith. But if we ever do, I pray we will, like this brave hero, stand firmly on the Rock of Jesus Christ.