Friends, what can we say? The darkness is thick. The threat of evil is more real now than it has been in this generation. Previous generations remember Mao Se Tung’s rage against Christians in China, Stalin’s hatred of anything holy in the USSR and the jealous way Hitler’s deranged mind viewed Christians and Jews, but this is the first time this generation of believers has seen it with our own eyes. We’ve all witnessed covert operations where mass killings resulted, but this is the first time I can remember where the enemy is anything but covert. The evil that is being propagated in Afghanistan right now seems to be the very heartbeat of Satan. Are we nearing the end? Is Jesus coming back soon? I am not smart enough or divine enough to answer that question. We are certainly closer than we were yesterday, but I have no idea if that means we are looking at the return of Christ in our lifetime.
These happenings do not mean God has stopped moving or the Light of Christ is too dim to see. Quite the contrary, the Church in Afghanistan is reportedly one of the fastest growing Churches in the world, second only to Iran! People are coming to Jesus en masse, partly because of the empty words and hateful actions of the ruling parties and mostly because life with Jesus is sweeter than anything we can experience elsewhere.
Believer, you realize that we do not just pray for Jesus to come quickly. This is a major prayer, but it is not the only one we are called to allow pass our lips. We are also called to pray for the lost to respond to our Creator’s invitation for life and purpose. We must not ignore this prayer! It is because of this prayer millions of people in countries closed to the Gospel are hearing and responding to God’s invitation. It is because someone prayed this prayer that YOU and I are even reading this article with interest right now! Please don’t stop praying for the lost. The fields are ready for the harvest NOW. But there is at least one more prayer we are asked to pray. When a person responds to God’s invitation to join Him in His work the enemy immediately begins trying to steal the truth that has been planted in that life. Often he is successful for lack of prayer and attention on the part of believers. When we drop the ball here we end up with large groups of ineffective, muted, powerless, joyless, Christians. These paralyzed followers of Jesus watch with fear and dismay as the Church moves on without them. They feel completely helpless against the enemy’s tactics and often find themselves back in the same lifestyle they left to come to Jesus. These last two prayers are how we can pray for Afghanistan (and its neighbors) and the seekers in our own country.
The Church in America has a large deficit to pay when it comes to this final prayer. For far too long we have relied on the UN, the benevolence of the US government and the scant few mission agencies available to bring aid and spiritual food to our brothers and sisters around the world. We’ve rationalized, “We pay taxes and our taxes are bringing food to hungry people. We give our tithes and offerings. Those are being utilized by missionaries and humanitarian aid groups. Why should we have to do more?” Therein lies the deficit. Money IS NOT the biggest, most pressing need our persecuted brothers and sisters have. Prayer is. Money is not the second biggest, most pressing need either. Hands are. Money might be a distant third.
We think because we give we are ‘covered.’ This couldn’t be farther from the truth. But even if it was, our giving statistics are ridiculous. On average we spend 85% of our tithe dollars on ourselves (personnel, utilities, building upkeep, copy paper…), 13% on ministry we can see and touch ourselves and a scant 2% goes to touch both evangelism and discipleship overseas. Granted, these are averages, but I believe they are fairly accurate…and it breaks my heart. I am convinced it breaks God’s heart as well. We rationalize it takes time to shift dollars around, but every day we choose to drag our feet people are dying without Jesus. Every day we wait is another day for the persecuted Church to make it on their o wn. It is not the job of the government to care for the Church. The UN doesn’t have a line item for evangelism in Muslim nations…and they shouldn’t. These tasks belong to us.
I don’t know how you define quickly. Whatever the timeline, I pray with the Apostle John for Jesus to come. But in the mean time we have work to do. I do not want Him to come and find us enjoying our air conditioned sanctuaries, padded chairs and well-stocked freezers while our brothers and sisters around the world are faithfully pursuing the Lord out in the elements, sleeping on the ground with no food in their bellies. Together, the Church in the Middle East and the Church in America, bear the burden of reaching the lost in our world. On top of that, we are family. We are called to lift each other up. Our time to lift is now.
Will you pray for your family in Afghanistan today? Pray for their physical protection and food. Pray for their spirit’s to be fed by the Lord. Pray their desire for a gospel advance will be satisfied in the wake of the Taliban’s work. Pray the Psalms over them. Pray for Jesus to come when He is ready and us to be found with our hands to the plow.