“But the Lord said to Ananias, ‘Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.’” – Acts 9:15-16
“To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.” – I Corinthians 9:22-23
“Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church.” – Colossians 1:24
When God called Paul, He called him to a life of suffering. This was not some kind of cruelty, nor was this done primarily for Paul’s personal benefit. God called Paul to imitate Christ, whose mission on earth was to suffer in order to bring redemption to all those who would trust Him for salvation. In the same way, Paul suffered in order to bring the Gospel to all those who were ready to trust Jesus for salvation. In doing so, God used Paul as a seed of the Church, despite his prior actions against Christians.
Hearing stories like Paul’s encourages us when we hear of persecution in India. We’re reminded that the most violent people can dramatically turn around and plant seeds in the name of Christ. A great example is a man named Tej. He came from a Christian background, yet he never attended a church or heard the name of Jesus mentioned in his childhood. When he was 21 and ran into a childhood friend who invited him to join a rebel military group, he joined, thinking he had nothing better to do, having only a first grade education.
Tej quickly began to enjoy the power and authority he was given as part of the group, instructed to collect taxes—beating and killing people who didn’t pay after an initial warning. Tej shares, “When I was 24, I killed a man. I didn’t know him. I was just following orders—but it is the biggest regret of my life.” Weighed down by his actions, Tej would cry in secret.
Then, Tej met a Mission India Church Planter named Haady, who developed a friendship and started encouraging Tej with the Word of God. Through these conversations, Tej resigned from his position in the rebel military group. About four months later, Haady invited him to attend a Christmas event. There, Tej surrendered his life to Jesus! The next month, he was baptized, and now serves Christ under Haady at the worshipping group. He sweeps and cleans the building where the worshipping group meets, rings a bell to call people to services, leads prayer meetings, and accompanies Haady as he shares the Gospel in nearby villages. Tej has brought nine new believers into the worshipping group!
Jesus’ servants in India are desperately chasing after his call on their lives. Praise God that the result is many more people putting their faith in Him!
Have you lost hope that God could change the heart of a certain person in your life? How can your faith in His power to transform be restored?
God, thank you for changing the hearts of persecutors to grow the greater body of believers. Please restore my faith in your ability to transform the people I know who don’t follow you.
– Todd VanEk, President & CEO of Mission India